By Lakshmi Gandhi
After a year of controversy around the character of Apu, the successful animated show "The Simpsons" will soon leave the character of the program aside.
The impact and the lasting legacy of the fictional Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (expressed by Hank Azaria), has been much debated since the debut of the documentary "The Problem With Apu" by comedian Hari Kondabolu, in November 2017, which examined the stereotypes about American Indians that embodied Apu. The documentary featured several celebrities and news creators from South Asia, including comedian Aparna Nancherla and actor Kal Penn, as they recalled the way Apu made them reflect on their own identities.
Social networks began to sound on Friday when IndieWire published an interview with film producer Adi Shankar, who told the site that he had listened to several people close to "The Simpsons" that Apu would soon be removed from the animated show. While Shankar is not affiliated with "The Simpsons" or his Fox network, he began a contest in April inviting creators to write scripts in which Apu's character reimagines himself beyond his current portrayal of a stereotypical Indian immigrant.
"I have verified from multiple sources now: they are going to abandon the character of Apu completely," Shankar told IndieWire. "They will not make a big problem with that, or anything like that, but they will abandon it completely just to avoid controversy."
Shankar did not give details about his IndieWire interview when he was contacted by phone on NBC News, stating that he did not want to reveal his source. A Fox spokesman posted a statement from "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean to NBC News that says: "Apu appeared in the episode 10/14/18 & # 39; My Way or the Highway to Heaven & # 39;".
In response to rumors that Apu might be written in "The Simpsons," Kondabolu said he was not necessarily excited. "There are many ways to make Apu work without getting rid of it. If it's true, this sucks, " he tweeted.
Since its premiere last year, Kondabolu's "The Problem With Apu" has opened an extensive conversation about stereotypes, pigeonholing and the lack of diversity in comedy. Azaria, who has voiced the character since "The Simpsons" debuted in 1989, told presenter Stephen Colbert in April that he was willing to "deviate" from the character.
In April, "The Simpsons" tried to sneak up on the controversy through a story that saw matriarch Marge of the Simpsons trying to share her favorite childhood book with her daughter Lisa, only to realize that it was more offensive of what he remembered.
"Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive now is politically incorrect. What can you do? ", Asks Lisa before a picture of Apu appears on the screen.
"Some things will be discussed at a later date," says Marge.
"In any case," Lisa adds.
That episode was criticized for missing the point of the conversation started by "The Problem With Apu."
As for Kondabolu himself, he has always said that he does not find the character hurtful, but that he saw Apu as a lazy representation of a whole culture.
"I do not find Apu offensive, I find him annoying and insulting," he said. "But for me, one: it's inaccurate, two: It's an insult to my parents, and three: When that's the only description you have, it's how the world sees you."
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