Is Apu an ugly ethnic stereotype? If so, has he always been?
In the long-running Fox animated series “The Simpsons,” Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is the congenial owner of the local Kwik-E-Mart — and a rare depiction of an Indian-American immigrant on network TV. But the character, voiced with a heavy accent by non-Indian actor Hank Azaria, unsettles comedian Hari Kondabolu, who once described Apu as “a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.” In Kondabalu’s documentary, “The Trouble With Apu,” prominent South Asians recall being taunted by bullies who invoke the character.
Last Sunday, the show’s creators responded with a shrug. “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect,” muses Lisa Simpson, the brainy girl who represents the show’s voice of reason, as the focus shifts to a picture of Apu. “What can you do?”
On social media, the show’s implicit argument went over badly with critics.
Defenders argued that Apu is more than a stereotype.
Others questioned the premise that nobody objected to the decades-old character until now.
Folks have always found Apu offensive. These voices just haven't had the power to garner a response until @harikondabolu made an entire documentary about it for tv.— Jenny KIDCCINO Yang (@jennyyangtv) April 9, 2018
Or. You chose to not listen and not care.
And from the looks of this episode, that's what you'll continue to do.
Honestly, the worst response is always ?It was good back then; it should be good now.? Nope. Norms evolve. Societies grow. We learn. We acknowledge mistakes as a society. Something that was acceptable in the past may not be acceptable now. That?s not such an absurd notion.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) April 10, 2018