Will THE SIMPSONS Change Apu? Voice Actor, Hank Azaria, Weighs In
Creatives behind the animated comedy The Simpsons and voice actor, Hank Azaria, have recently voiced their reactions to a documentary which could affect the future of longtime character, Apu.
In the hour-long film, The Problem with Apu, creator and STAR Hari Kondabolu, a South Asian-American comedian, confronts his long-standing "nemesis" Apu Nahasapeemapetilon - better known as the Indian convenience store owner on The Simpsons.
Kondabolu discusses how this controversial caricature was created, burrowed its way into the hearts and minds of Americans, and continues to exist - intact - nearly three decades later.
In this highly-personal, insightful and timely exploration of minority media representation, Kondabolu speaks with prominent South Asian actors about the damaging legacy of Apu - an animated character voiced by a white actor with a heavily exaggerated, stereotypical Indian accent.
Azaria responded to the documentary on a recent press tour, stating: "The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased - or worse - based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, or the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing, especially in post-9/11 America. The idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally."
He continued, "They will definitely address, maybe publicly but certainly creatively within the context of the show, what they want to do, if anything, differently with the character."
Hari Kondabolu has been quoted as saying, "I was obsessed with THE SIMPSONS growing up and it has greatly influenced my comedy. However, as my mother proves, you can criticize something you love because you expect more from it. For the longest time, Apu was the most prominent representation of South Asian Americans - and despite how much our society has changed in the last three decades - the character persists today. I made this film to not only talk about the origin of Apu and highlight the impact of such images in media, but also to celebrate the diversity and complexity of my community."