The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean has hinted that major changes could be made to Apu, amid continuing controversy surrounding the character.
In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Jean said that the Kwik-E-Mart owner has “made South Asians very proud”, but change could be on the way after 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu accused the show of perpetuating racial stereotypes through the character.
“As a writer, I always wanted to make Apu an original character – more noble, more hardworking, and more intelligent than the average Simpsons character,” Jean explained.
“When we were doing Episode 4, there was a big joke that Reverend Lovejoy didn’t even know what religion he was, and Apu was just being this wonderful volunteer fireman, and there was an article in the Guardian recently by a South Asian writer who said that moment made him feel really proud.
“So I think there are a lot of things about Apu that have made South Asians very proud, and it’s a very complicated issue.”
At the same time, Jean understands the negative effect of the character and apologised if it led directly to either bullying or discrimination.
“I apologise for anyone who was bullied because of Apu,” he added.
“I hate bullies. I was bullied, and if you’re a bully I’ll kick your ass, so certainly that was wrong.”
When quizzed on whether there was plans to change Apu’s character, Jean said it was a “work in progress”.
“That’s all I can say,” he teased.
The bold comments came during the same discussion where Jean admitted his belief that Michael Jackson used his Simpsons cameo to groom young boys.
This comes after the show pulled Jackson’s cameo episode from circulation last week, in the wake of allegations against the star which featured in Leaving Neverland.