“The Simpsons” Addresses Its Apu Controversy… Badly
The Simpsons will in my heart always be the greatest TV show of all time, but any show made by a mostly, if not all, white staff in the 1990’s will have some egregious details. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is one of those. Although Apu has starred in a couple of key episodes (an especially memorable one dealing with immigration law, and another with Lisa), he is also a pretty terrible stereotype of an Indian person. Between the cartoonish accent (voiced by a white person — Hank Azaria), the stereotypical job and so, so, so much more, Apu has been a stereotypical white person’s portrayal of an Indian for years — and comedian Hari Kondabolu addressed the issue brilliantly in his documentary, “The Problem with Apu.”
The Simpsons knew they had to address the issues with their long-running character, and they did… condescendingly and badly. In a clip aired in last night’s episode, Marge tries to read Lisa ancient fairy tales from long ago, and Lisa balks at Marge’s censorship of them. Marges asks, “Well, what am I supposed to do?” and Lisa answers, “It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect.” The camera then pans to a portrait of Apu with the words, “Don’t have a cow, man” on Lisa’s bedside.
The people on Twitter — including Kondabolu — have expressed annoyance with the clip, feeling that it brushes aside their concerns as an issue of “political correctness” rather than the reality that this was never really okay. Said Kondabolu —
Others added —
One would think a show with a history of self-awareness as The Simpsons — which has done episodes as willing to play with the characters and what they represent as “The Principal and the Pauper” and “Homer’s Enemy” could have addressed this issue with a sense of intelligence and grace. Alas, this was a major slip up for a show that has meant a lot to people, and whose early years are still very meaningful for many.
What do you think of how The Simpsons dealt with this though? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.