American voice actor Hank Azaria, has recently announced that he would be wiling to “step aside” from his role voicing Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons. The controversy surrounding the characters was followed by a documentary, The Problem With Apu, by Indian-American comic Hari Kondabolu. He argues that the character of Apu is based too heavily on racial stereotypes.
While distancing himself from the show’s response to this (which in itself was also controversial), Hank Azaria spoke on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and said his “eyes have been opened” by the debate, and that he never intended to cause offence.
While not of Indian heritage himself, Hank has voiced Apu since 1990, putting on a brilliant Indian accent in order to voice him. However, even if he does step down, he still voices other characters such as Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy and Moe Szyslak (none of which have a stereotypical accent), so worry not, he won’t be disappearing from The Simpsons completely, even if Apu ends up getting axed.
When asked about the future for the character, Hank said he was open to change, and actually called on for the South Asian community to be represented better, and more respectfully, in the industry.
“I’ve given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened,” he said. “I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it.”
“I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room… including how he is voiced or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new.”
“It not only makes sense, it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”
Following the interview, Hari Kondabolu tweeted to the actor and thanked him for his words. Hank also discussed the show’s response for the first time during the interview, and said that he had “nothing to do with the writing or the voicing” in that episode.
“I think if anyone came away from that segment thinking they need to lighten up… that’s definitely not the message that I want to send.”
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 25, 2018
So what does this mean for the beloved Apu Nahasapeemapetilon? Will the show continue with a new actor to voice him, or will he face getting killed off in a Simpson murder mystery, to placate those offended by a comedy cartoon? Perhaps, after so many years and new episodes only said to be declining in quality, it’s time for The Simpsons to finally be laid to rest. However, uber-fans of the show would insist that The Simpsons only gets better, and that it is in fact educational. So maybe Apu will just be phased out of the show entirely, or offended people will just have to deal with Apu being a first generation immigrant to Springfield, with a heavy Indian accent.
Please do let us know your personal opinion on this Apu controversy in the comments section down below.
<Story by Emily Clark>
Featured Photo Credit: IFC.com