Filmmaker Adi Shankar is crowdsourcing a “cure” to The Simpsons‘ Apu problem, asking fans to write their very own episode.
Last year, comedian Hari Kondabolu’s The Problem With Apu documentary looked at the problematic nature of the Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, arguing that the character perpetuates a racial stereotype.
In response to the initial criticism, The Simpsons aired an episode last month (titled ‘No Good Read Goes Unpunished’) that saw Marge and Lisa approach the issue, with Lisa asking viewers, “What can you do?”. The show’s handling of the subject was labelled “toothless” by some fans.
But while actor Hank Azaria said that he would be willing to stand down from voicing Apu, the show’s creator Matt Groening has said that he’s “proud of what we do on the show” and dismissed a culture “where people love to pretend they’re offended”.
"Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect… What can you do?" pic.twitter.com/Bj7qE2FXWN
— soham (@sohamberlamps) April 9, 2018
Indian-American filmmaker Shankar has now launched a contest for a “screenplay centering on the character Apu set in the world and canon of The Simpsons that takes the character of Apu and in a clever way subverts him, pivots him, intelligently writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a mean spirited mockery and transforms him into a kernel of truth wrapped in funny insight aka actual satire”.
“This contest is open to people of all ethnicities and cultures, however, if you don’t have any experience with Indian culture in America then you may not have the perspective and experience to write well on this topic,” Shankar explains.
Shankar has promised to “take the winning script to The Simpsons writers’ room and Fox Broadcasting Company, to make it an official episode of The Simpsons‘ upcoming season, and recommend that they hire the winning writer into their room for the next season”.
“If The Simpsons writers’ room rejects the episode,” he adds, then Shankar himself will “finance the winning script and produce it as an unofficial fan film that looks identical to an official Simpsons episode”.
You can enter the contest here. The closing date is June 30.