The actor who voices Apu on The Simpsons is willing to step aside from the role having considered the negative impact the character has on the South Asian community.
Hank Azaria — who provides the voices for at least 30 characters on the show including Chief Wiggum and Moe — told Stephen Colbert he understands why there has been a push back in recent years against the politically incorrect Indian-American Kwik-E-Mart owner.
“The idea that anybody young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad,” he said.
“I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character, and the idea that it’s brought pain and suffering in any way, that it was used to marginalise people, it’s upsetting – genuinely.”
Azaria said it’s time, after 29 years, for The Simpsons to evolve.
“I really want to see Indian, South Asian writer or writers in the room – not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take, including how it is voiced or not voiced,” he continued.
“I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new.
“I really hope that’s what The Simpsons does. It not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”
The blowtorch was applied by comedian Hari Kondabolu, who looked at South Asian representation in his 2017 documentary ‘The Problem With Apu’.
In the film, which explores Apu’s impact on other well-known Indian-American actors and comedians like Kal Penn and Aziz Ansari, Kondabolu describes the character’s voice as “a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father”.
In early April, The Simpsons launched its defence in a recent episode when Lisa responded to a question by Marge, saying: “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
Lisa then turns to her nightstand where a photograph of Apu has the line: “Don’t have a cow”.
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) April 9, 2018
Kondabolu blasted the response as “sad”.