To recap: comedian Hari Kondabolu made a documentary, The Problem with Apu, that addresses how Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an Indian immigrant voiced by a white man, is symptomatic of a bigger issue: how people of color are depicted in pop culture.
The show responded. At the end of the April 8 episode, Marge is reading to Lisa when she realises that the book, The Princess In The Garden, is full of stereotypes. Lisa looks into the camera and replies: "It's hard to say".
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The Simpsons showrunners waited nearly five months before addressing the controversy during an episode of the show in which Lisa Simpson notes, "something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect".
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So has Groening given any thought to Apu as a stereotype? I'm proud of what we do on the show.
"When we first started, we were part of the downfall of civilization". I felt that the controversy at the beginning of the show was, again, people pretending to be offended by Bart's very mild sassiness. It's a well-reasoned film, which The Simpsons dismissed with a joke that did not go over well. "They drive each other insane but they do love each other". And Groening can hardly claim that people are "pretending" to be offended, since there has been debate over the Apu character for at least a decade or more. While the show's affection for Apu - and all its characters - is honest, and he doesn't seem to be portrayed in a deliberately cruel manner, it's also clear that changing times may demand that even long-running shows like The Simpsons need to adjust and evolve. Is it time for the character to change, and should an ethnically appropriate actor take over as his voice?
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