Makers of ‘The Simpsons’ fail to understand the crux of ‘Problem with Apu’

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Makers of 'The Simpsons' fail to understand the crux of 'Problem with Apu'

Kondabulu’s documentary tried to explain how the character Apu is spreading harmful and widespread stereotyping of south Asians on American television.

In his documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu criticized the racial blind spots of the long-running Fox animation show The Simpsons — especially that of the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. On Sunday night, The Simpsons responded to the criticism in its latest episode. 

But critics, including Kondabulu, aren’t pleased with the reply that was aired through the show on Sunday as the makers of the widely popular animated show seem to have missed the point that Hari Kondabolu tried to make in his documentary. 

Hari Kondabolu in his 2017 documentary titled “The Problem with Apu” had criticized the makers of The Simpsons for employing a white man named Hank Azaria to give a highly Indianized accent for the Indian American character in the animated series by the name Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. 

The Sunday’s show of The Simpsons, though aired to give a befitting answer to Kondabolu, seems to have completely missed the shot as the show ends with the character Lisa saying, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect… What can you do?” 

“Wow. “Politically Incorrect?” That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad,” Kondabolu tweeted soon after watching the show. 

Monday’s The Simpsons started with Marge reading a bedtime story to Lisa that she narrates with a few political buzzwords, which Lisa complains lack emotion. “What am I supposed to do?” Marge asks when Lisa complains. 

The girl character Lisa then turns on to the camera and says, “It’s hard to say something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” 

One can notice the photo of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on the table with words “Don’t have a cow,” written over it. 

Marge looks directly into the camera and says, “Some things will be dealt with at a later date.” She concludes saying “—If it all.” 

In his documentary, Kondabulu tried to explain how the character Apu is spreading harmful and widespread stereotyping of south Asians on American television. He says in the documentary that the character “reflected how America viewed us: servile, devious, goofy,” pointing out that the popular culture is also one of the reasons for increasing number of bullying and racist incidents in the US. 

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