Hank Azaria Says He’ll Stop Voicing Apu on the Simpsons

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  • The actor who does the voice of Apu on The Simpsons says he understands the criticism facing the show’s representation of the character and would be willing to stop voicing him.

    Hank Azaria has voiced Apu since his first appearance in Season 1 of the Simpsons in 1990. He appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to discuss the return of his IFC show Brockmire, and addressed how he believes South Asian and Indian-American writers should be included in The Simpsons writers room to inform what happens with Apu.

    Now, Apu has been offensive as a stereotype to many Indian-Americans since his introduction in 1990. It’s just that the world was different back then and we didn’t frequently have these national discussions about race and representation. So, it was pretty easy for the mostly white male Simpsons writers room to ignore.

    The issue was made much more pressing with the release of Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem With Apu, which used the character to start a discussion about the lack of representation of South Asian characters in film and television. The Simpsons itself eventually addressed the controversy in a recent episode. In case you missed it, it shows Lisa looking at a picture of Apu on her bedside table, which reads: “Don’t Have A Cow”.

    Kondabolu was not pleased with that response. He said: “Wow. “Politically Incorrect?” That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad.” And: “In “The Problem with Apu,” I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.”

    But others including comedian Bill Maher say there’s no use getting offended by things from 30 years ago that the creators didn’t know would be offensive. But Azaria now seems to be on Kondabolu’s side. He says he’s opened his eyes to the matter and doesn’t seem to be thrilled with how The Simpsons responded. Current showrunner of the The Simpsons Al Jean hasn’t responded to Azaria’s appearance on Colbert yet.

    What do you think The Simpsons should do with Apu? Let us know in the comments below.

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