Hank Azaria, the voice actor known for his work in long running animated sitcom The Simpsons, has said that the show will address the Apu controversy in future. Azaria voices the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. The character has been quite popular, but members of the Indian-American community had issues with it. It was a caricature and was voiced by a American with an exaggerated Indian accent.
Hari Kondabolu, an Indian-American comedian, had last year made a documentary called The Problem With Apu, in which he had alleged that the character created negative stereotypes against Indians in the United States. In a Television Critics Associationpanel discussion, Hank Azaria said, “The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu … it’s distressing. The idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a hard time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally.”
“As far as what is going to happen with the character going forward, it’s really not just up to me,” he continued, adding that the show’s producers have also “given it a lot of thought.” “They will definitely address — maybe publicly, but certainly within the context of the show — what they want to do, if anything, with the character,” he added.
Despite all the controversy, Apu remains a very popular character, and a fan-favourite. Azaria has played the character for nearly 30 years and got three Emmy awards for his work.
He continued, “The Simpsons exists on that fine line between what’s funny and what’s insulting. The Simpsons over the years has been pretty humorously offensive to all manner of people Republicans, Brazilians, presidents, high school principals, schoolprincipals, Italians, you name it. And they take a lot of pride over there in not apologizing for any of that. I think, over the years, they’ve done a really good job of being, shall we say, uniformly offensive without being outright hurtful.”