A Hindu-American organisation has said it’s “disappointed” over The Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s defence of the show’s controversial character Apu.
This week, Groening said that he is “proud” of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon following criticism of the character. Original voice actor Hank Azaria stepped down from voicing the role last year, which came after a 2018 documentary called The Problem With Apu argued that the role was a racist stereotype.
Speaking about the criticism of the character and whether he would change anything, Groening told USA Today: “I think the Apu stories are fantastic, and he’s one of the most nuanced characters on a silly two-dimensional cartoon show.
“So, yeah, I’m proud of Apu. I’m trying not to open up another chasm of criticism, but it doesn’t matter what I say. I’ll get it anyway.”
In response to the comments, Hindu-American.org spokesperson Shereen Bhalla told TMZ that Apu’s presence in the show has made the Hindu community in the United States feel “marginalised,” and discussed repercussions for children growing up Hindu in the country.
Bhalla added that Apu’s status as a frequent punchline on the long-running show means Hindu children may not feel proud of their identity, and that the stereotypes presented on the show have led to increased bullying, both online and in schools.
In his new interview, Groening confirmed that they were yet to recast Apu, though said of their plans going forward: “We’ve got plans for Apu, but we have to see if we can make the stories work.
“We’re working on something kind of ambitious. That’s all I can say,” he added.
The Simpsons also announced last year that non-white characters would no longer be voiced by white actors on the show, Groening explaining that the decision was “not [his] idea”.