Should writers from “The Simpsons” remove Apu as a character from the long-running cartoon? That’s what many people are asking after a documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” aired on truTV.
The documentary, written and produced by comedian Hari Konadabolu, looks at the recurring character Apu, an Indian who owns a Kwik-E-Mart convenience store on the show. Many have argued that Apu exemplifies a negative stereotype of Indians in America. His last name on the show, which has been running for over 25 years, is Nahasapeemapetilon, and he frequently can be heard saying on the show, “Thank you, come again,” as customers finish a transaction at his store. He has a hard work ethic and is almost always seen inside the store, sometimes selling expired food and ripping off customers.
Konadabolu’s documentary questions how Apu was created and found his way to “The Simpsons.”
“This character — the only representation that we have — led a lot of kids who were born and raised here to feel non-American,” Kondabolu told The Chicago Tribune. “If you don’t nip racism in the bud from the beginning, it mutates and finds other ways of surviving.”
So, do you think that the Apu character should be written off of “The Simpsons?” Vote in the poll below:
Konadabolu took to Twitter to address the meaning of his documentary, saying that the character doesn’t offend him. Instead, it “insults” him and his community.
Konadabolu added in another tweet that he doesn’t want writers to kill off Apu because that would be “lazy writing and an insult to the show’s legacy.”
The man who voices Apu, Hank Azaria, was asked about his thoughts on the documentary by TMZ. He said that producers and writers on the show have taken the recent criticism of Apu “seriously,” leading to speculation that a drastic change to Apu may be in store. Azaria apologized to anyone that may be offended by Apu.
“I think the documentary makes really interesting points and gave us a lot at The Simpsons’ to think about, and we definitely are thinking about it,” Azaria said. “And definitely anybody that was hurt or offended by any character of vocal performance … it’s really upsetting that was offensive or hurtful to anybody. And I think it’s an important conversation and one definitely worth having.”
Previous episodes on “The Simpsons” have documented Apu’s life and upbringing. According to The Simpsons Wiki, he lived in India during the 1960s and became a friend of Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney. So much so, that an episode featuring Paul revealed he was referred to some as “the fifth Beatle.” He graduated from a college in Calcutta and was the top of his class of 7 million students, earning a scholarship to study at Springfield Heights Institute of Technology. There, he earned his master’s degree in computer science and designed a tic-tac-toe program that only the top human players could beat. In order to pay back his student loans, he took a job at the local Kwik-E-Mart, and the rest is history.
Apu and his wife Manjula have eight children and “are devotees of the Hindu gods Shiva, Ganesha and Vishnu.”