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Much ado about Apu: Is The Simpsons character a tired stereotype?

Much ado about Apu: Is The Simpsons character a tired stereotype?
From CBC - April 15, 2018

The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean is responding tocontroversy over the series' well-known South Asian character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a heavily accentedIndian immigrant andconvenience store owner.

"I truly appreciate all responses pro and con," he posted on Twitter Friday."Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right."

Theanimated character, whichfirst appeared during the show's premiere seasonin 1990, has been the focus of criticism for being a racial stereotype. In the2017 documentary, The Problem with Apu,Indian-American comedian Hari Kondaboluexamined howthe famed Kwik-E-Martclerk may have negatively affected perceptions of South Asians in North America.

Episodeaddresses controversy

The Simpsons addressed the ongoing debate on an episode April7 called No Good Read Goes Unpunished, when Marge edits the fictitious children's book The Princess in the Gardento make it less offensive.

"Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect.What can you do?" Lisa says directly to the camera before lookingat a framed photo of Apuon her bedside table signed "Do not have a cow."

"Some things will be dealt with at a later date," said Marge. Lisa added: "If at all."

The responsewhich was teased by Jean on social media before the episode aireddid not sit well with a lot of people.

Among the objectionsis that thecharacter's exaggeratedaccentis voiced by HankAzaria. Hiswork has won him several Emmys.

'Nuanced' character

"I am not necessarily a fan of a white guy voicing an Indian character," Orlando-based producer Amar Shah told CBCradio host Brent BamburyonSaturday. "But Apu, to me, started off as a type and as the years progressed, the character became more nuanced."

Shah, whose parents owned a convenience store and gas station, is amongmany fansdefending the comedic nature of the roleincluding those from theSouth Asian community itself.

"Apuwas kind of all we had," said L.A.-basedcomedian Rajiv Satyal about growing up with a lack of South Asian representation on television.

Time's have changed

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