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12.04.2017

The voice of Apu responds to 'The Problem with Apu'

"We're just really thinking about it. It's a lot to digest."



Comedian Hari Kondabolu's truTV documentary The Problem with Apu set out to explore the impact of casual racism in The Simpsons in the form a racist, broadly offensive stereotype that has plagued South Asians for decades: Apu, the show's Indian convenience store owner.

The film got a lot of people talking, which was great, though I'm guessing that most of Hari's fans were aware of said problem with Apu. If you watched The Problem with Apu and it was all totally mind-blowing news to you, congratulations; you were part of the film's target audience.

But here's the big question: have the folks at The Simpsons seen The Problem with Apu? And how about Hank Azaria, the white actor who provides the super-stereotypical voice Apu? (Or, as Hari puts it, "a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.") One of plot points of the documentary concerns Hari's attempts to interview Azaria and talk about the character on camera. It doesn't happen.

However, it seems that Azaria has indeed seen the film. Speaking to a reporter from TMZ, who asked for this thoughts on the documentary, Azaria said that Kondabolu "made some really interesting points" and "gave us a lot at The Simpsons to think about, and we are really thinking about it."



He also offered up something resembling regret regarding the character's negative impact... actually, no. At best, it was simply an acknowledgment that some people may have found Apu offensive or hurtful.

"And definitely anybody that was hurt or offended by it -- by any character or vocal performance -- it's really upsetting that that was offensive or hurtful to anybody," Azaria says. This is such a weird thing to say after performing the voice of this character for nearly thirty years.

Wait, does that mean the show intends to address the problems with the character?

"I think it's an important conversation, and one definitely worth having, so thanks for asking," Azaria says. "We're just really thinking about it. It's a lot to digest."

So... maybe don't hold your breath.

Kondabolu responded to Azaria's assessment on Twitter. In short: "Go fuck yourself."



The comedian also clarified that he didn't wish for Apu to get killed off, which would be just lazy.


If you haven't seen The Problem with Apu, it's streaming on truTV, On Demand, and available from iTunes.