Matt Groening, the creator of US show The Simpsons, has finally addressed the controversy surrounding Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a character on the show, questioning the outrage.
Quite a number of people, especially of Asian descent, have come forward claiming Apu represented a racist stereotype.
In a recent chat with USA Today, Groening said people should stop pretending they were offended. “I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended,” said the show’s creator.
Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu was among the first to talk about issues with Apu, an Indian American Kwik-E-Mart owner in Springfield. Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem With Apu has actors such as Aziz Ansari, Kal Penn, Samrat Chakrabarti and Hasan Minhaj among others relating childhood anecdotes of being called “Apu” and bullied due to their perceived heritage.
“After a while, you’d watch The Simpsons on a Sunday and you’d get a sense of how you’d be made fun of at school on Monday, based on what Apu did in the latest episode,” Kondabolu told BBC Culture in 2017.
Kondabolu responded to Groening’s recent comments on Twitter, saying he “sounds like every other troll on the internet who didn’t see the documentary. No one is offended by this character. It was, at times, insulting and was frustrating to many of us who were solely represented by that one image.”
A few days back, actor Hank Azaria, who provides the voice for Apu, told Stephen Colbert that he was willing to give up the role and be replaced by an Indian or south Asian actor.
Azaria said: “I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it. Listening to voices means inclusion in the writers’ room. I really want to see Indian, south Asian writers in the writers’ room, genuinely informing whichever direction this character takes.
“I’m perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me.”