The Simpsons has been on the air for almost 30 years. It’s still a beloved series with a huge fan base. Yet, Apu is a problematic character that needs to be addressed. Comedian Hari Kondabolu first addressed his concerns with the character of Apu with a segment he produced for W. Kamau Bell’s show Totally Biased. It detailed the Indian American’s issue with the character of Apu. In 2017, Kondabolu took his argument to the next level and produced a short documentary called The Problem With Apu. The doc, which airs on TruTV, outlines why Apu is a problem for the Indian American community.
Kondabolu talks with several successful South Asian American celebrities like Aziz Ansari and Mindy Kaling. Those actors have had the opportunity to play three-dimensional characters that are not just an amalgamation of Indian stereotypes. And while the landscape may be changing and better roles are now cropping up for South Asian actors, Apu on The Simpsons is stuck in the past and continues to promote racist stereotypes.
Perhaps it is time for a change? We wouldn't accept these stereotypes on TV today if they surrounded an African American or gay character. The portrayal of Apu goes past the dark humor for which The Simpsons is known.
1. The Show Can't Change Apu's Accent Now
The Simpsons has been on the air for almost three decades. Although we can all agree that the accent is not authentic and offensive, Azaria cannot just start voicing Apu with a more precise dialect. If the show can't change the accent, then perhaps it should find a way to write Apu out of the series?Agree or disagree?
2. Perhaps Apu's Character Can Evolve
Yes, it's true that many Indian Americans hate Apu. They had to experience racial bias and hear taunting things like, "Thank you, come again" repeatedly throughout their childhood. Yet, for many, Apu is a beloved character.
Kondabolu's doc does not provide answers on what the writers should do with Apu. The comedian does not even think that the character should just be killed off the series. However, Kondabolu argues that characters like Ned Flanders and Mr. Burns' right-hand man Smithers have evolved over the near 30 year run of the show, so why not Apu? Just because it's a cartoon, doesn't mean that a character cannot learn and grow.Agree or disagree?
3. The Same Stale Stereotypical Jokes Are OldVideo: YouTube
The Simpsons has been on the air for nearly 30 years and through its creative ups and downs, the series still remains relevant and funny today. However, Kondabolu believes that the Emmy Award winning show is brought down by what he sees as Apu's fundamentally flawed stereotypes.
"Everything is through the lens of a white person’s perception of an Indian immigrant. It’s the same jokes: India has over a billion people, something about curry, gods with many arms and elephants’ heads, arranged marriage," argues Kondabolu.Agree or disagree?
4. Apu's Name Has Become A Racial Slur For Indian Americans
Many young Indian Americans have had to live with being called "Apu" as a racial slur against them. Actor Utkarsh Ambudkar says that he hates Apu because bullies at his school began calling him "slushie boy." One of the actor's friends had to explain the joke to him, "He was like, ‘Dude, there’s this guy on this show. He runs a Kwik-E-Mart. Thank you, come again.'"
"It totally f*cked with my childhood,” adds Ambudkar. "You’re not going to catch me selling hot dogs or working at a 7-Eleven."Agree or disagree?