The creator of a documentary about whether Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon can be considered racist has confirmed that he doesn’t want the Kwik-E Mart owner to be axed from the show amid mounting speculation about his future.
Last month, US documentary The Problem With Apu followed comedian Hari Kondabolu as he interviewed figures from the world of entertainment including Aziz Ansari and Whoopi Goldberg and Kal Penn in order to gauge if the portrayal of the animated character can be considered offensive.
Now, Simpsons fans are mulling the possibility of Apu’s permanent departure from the show after voice actor Hank Azaria responded for the first time and admitted that the show’s producers are “really thinking” about how to respond to the criticism.
“It’s really upsetting that [Apu] was offensive or hurtful to anybody”, Azaria told TMZ.
Azaria, who also voices Chief Wiggum and Moe Szylak, added: “we’re just really thinking… it’s a lot to digest.”
But while there is no official indication that Apu could face the axe, Kondabolu has confirmed that he doesn’t want Apu to leave – but instead wants the character to be portrayed in a more progressive light.
“To @TheSimpsons Writers: Please do NOT remove Apu from The Simpsons. Killing him is lazy writing & an insult to the show’s legacy”, he wrote on Twitter.
“Let him be upwardly mobile & own multiple Qwik E Marts. Let his kids talk. Plots have been repeating for years & tweaks provide tons of new stories.”
To @TheSimpsons Writers: Please do NOT remove Apu from The Simpsons. Killing him is lazy writing & an insult to the show’s legacy. Let him be upwardly mobile & own multiple Qwik E Marts. Let his kids talk. Plots have been repeating for years & tweaks provide tons of new stories.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) December 4, 2017
In the original documentary, Kondabolu described how many elements of Apu’s character could be seen as racial stereotypes – including his status as a convenience store owner who has fathered many children.
“The Simpsons is an important work of art that has influenced so many, including myself. Apu was the only Indian we had on TV at all so I was happy for any representation as a kid. And of course he’s funny, but that doesn’t mean this representation is accurate or right or righteous”, Kondabolu said.
“It gets to the insidiousness of racism, though, because you don’t even notice it when it’s right in front of you. It becomes so normal that you don’t even think about it. It seeps into our language to the point we don’t even question it because it seems like it’s just been that way forever.”