The Simpsons has been on the air over thirty years, so why is Apu suddenly so controversial?
A lot of the recent focus probably has to do with the 2017 documentary made by comedian Hari Kondabolu The Problem with Apu, a feature that tackled the stereotypical Indian character on The Simpsons.
Though Kondabolu, who is Indian-American, loves the classic comedy series, Apu upset him for years, so he used the doc to explore the tone of the character in addition to broader issues about representation. In an interview last year, he told Vanity Fair that Apu is fatally flawed for a number of reasons, but predominantly because it’s "a white person’s perception of an Indian immigrant."
Azaria himself told TMZ that he watched it and thought it made “some really interesting points.” And that, essentially, was that—until now.
Last night, The Simpsons addressed the Apu controversy into the latest episode, titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” In one scene, Marge is seen reading a book called The Princess in the Garden to her daughter Lisa. Though the book used to be considered offensive to some, it's been re-written to meet "modern standards." Despite the effort, Lisa isn’t impressed by the new version. "Well, what am I supposed to do?" Marge says, frustrated.
Apparently, the people who were unhappy about the Apu controversy are mad at The Simpsons' response. So what's she solution? Kill off Apu? Reshape the character? And what about the Mexican Bee Man? What about the Fat Tony and his Italian mobsters? What about Willie the groundskeeper? Where does it end and what has to be done to make EVERYONE happy?
#TheSimpsons completely toothless response to @harikondabolu #TheProblemWithApu about the racist character Apu:— Soham (@soham_burger) April 9, 2018
"Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect... What can you do?" pic.twitter.com/Bj7qE2FXWN