The Simpsons remains one of the most popular TV series in the world and is still a huge part of modern-day pop culture. However, it is not without its fair share of issues, namely its racist undertones and stereotypes. Apu, one of the most important characters in the show, has been largely criticized for being a blatant stereotype of Indians and a bad representation of Indians in general.
While speaking to Dax Shepard on his podcast “Armchair Expert,” Apu’s former voice actor Hank Azaria stated that he felt really bad about voicing the iconic character. The voice actor revealed that he took extra steps in order to fully understand why his portrayal was offensive toward the Indian community.
“I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input. A 17-year-old … he’s never even seen ‘The Simpsons,’ but knows what Apu means. It’s practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country,”
Azaria felt very apologetic about his voice acting work and felt that he should apologize to every single Indian person in the USA.
“Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize,” he said. “And sometimes I do.”
Since Monday’s podcast, Hari Kondabolu, an American comedian of Indian descent who first called out The Simpsons” over their problematic depiction of Indian immigrants in his 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu, gave a lot of respect to Azaria for owning up to his mistakes.
.@HankAzaria is a kind & thoughtful person that proves that people are not simply “products of their time,” but have the ability to learn & grow. Nothing. But. Respect.
We sincerely hope that Apu’s character will undergo a major change and he becomes a well-rounded character instead of a stereotypical representation of Indians all over the world. The first step towards betterment is always acknowledging one’s own mistakes and we applaud Azaria for admitting his own mistakes.
Thanks to New York Post for the quotes.