The Simpsons showrunner and executive producer Al Jean has responded to the feedback surrounding a recent episode that attempted to address the controversy over the depiction of character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
The Simpsons features a South Asian character called Apu, who has had to grapple with the troubling stereotype of a convenience store clerk with an exaggerated, fake Indian accent since the show’s existence. The character is voiced by Hank Azaria.
Jean tweeted: “I truly appreciate all the responses pro and con. Will continue to try and find an answer that is popular and more important(ly) right.”
.@TheSimpsons I truly appreciate all responses pro and con. Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right
— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 13, 2018
A recent episode of the animated series addressed the criticism that Apu represents a racist stereotype through a line from the character Lisa, delivered while Marge reads her a bedtime story, reported variety.com.
“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” said Marge, another character from The Simpsons.
Lisa then looks over at a framed photograph of Apu, which has the line: “Don’t have a cow!” written on it. Marge responds: “Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” to which, Lisa says: “If at all.”
#TheSimpsons completely toothless response to @harikondabolu #TheProblemWithApu about the racist character Apu:”Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect… What can you do?” pic.twitter.com/Bj7qE2FXWN
— Soham (@soham_burger) April 9, 2018
Though the episode was well-received by some, many felt the attempt was half-hearted and underdone.
Hari Kondabolu, an American comedian and filmmaker with roots in India, who is behind the documentary The Problem with Apu, wrote: “Wow. ‘Politically Incorrect?’ That’s the takeaway from my movie and the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad.”
In order to make it clear they weren’t going to change Apu in any way, The Simpsons changed Lisa. That’s some serious spite.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 11, 2018