It's proving pretty divisive...
Fans of The Simpsons have criticised the show’s response to recent accusations that the character of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is responsible for promoting racist stereotypes.
Last year, comedian Hari Kondabolu hosted The Problem With Apu, a documentary that saw him interview figures from the world of entertainment including Aziz Ansari, Whoopi Goldberg and Kal Penn to look into the problematic nature of the iconic shop owner.
“Kids in the playground would always mimic the accent and say ‘Thank you, come again!’ or ‘Hello, Mr Homer!’” Kondabolu told the BBC at the time.
“Sure, growing up in New York City everyone tries to be funny. If you grow up there you learn to make jokes and how to make comebacks, but it’s hard to counter an accent – what’s your comeback for an accent?”
Kondabolu also described Hank Azaria’s portrayal of the character as “a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.”
Now, The Simpsons has been criticised for their response – which seemingly appeared to dismiss Kondabolu’s concerns.
In last night’s episode ‘No Good Read Goes Unpunished’, the issue of Apu is tackled head on as Marge and Lisa discuss the portrayal of the character.
Lisa Simpson is heard to say “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
Later on, a framed photo of Apu is seen with the words “don’t have a cow, man”.
But the seemingly flippant response has angered fans, including Kondabolu himself.
“Wow. ‘Politically Incorrect?’ That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad”, Kondabolu wrote.
“In “The Problem with Apu,” I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress”, another tweet from Kondabolu said.
Another user said: “I think the fact that they put this “argument” in the mouth of Lisa’s character, the character who usually champions the underdogs and is supposed to be the most thoughtful and liberal, is what makes this the most ridiculous (as in worthy of ridicule) and toothless response.”
The Simpsons are yet to respond to the latest criticism.