Hari KondaboluLatest News and Opinion
Posted Wednesday 7/18/18 at 1:42PM EDT
The Simpsons creator Matt Groening: Apu debate is "tainted now"
Source: The New York Times
In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, Groening said of The Problem with Apu director, "my guess is I agree, politically, with 99 percent of the things that Hari Kondabolu believes. We just disagree on Apu." Groening said he loves the character of Apu, and "it makes me feel bad that it makes other people feel bad. But on the other hand, it’s tainted now — the conversation, there’s no nuance to the conversation now. It seems very, very clunky. I love the character. I love the show." Groening went on to say he had a "scholarly intention" with Apu by naming the character after Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy. "I am sorry that The Simpsons would be criticized for having an Indian character that, because of our extraordinary popularity — I expected other people to do it. I go, maybe he’s a problem, but who’s better?" said Groening. "Who’s a better Indian animated character in the last 30 years? I’ve been to India twice and talked about The Simpsons in front of audiences. That’s why this took me by surprise. I know Indians are not the same as Indian-Americans." Groening also addressed his USA Today interview earlier this year, where he said of the controversy, "people love to pretend they’re offended.” Groening told The Times that comment "wasn’t specifically about Apu. That was about our culture in general. And that’s something I’ve noticed for the last 25 years. There is the outrage of the week and it comes and goes." As for whether Apu will appear again, Groening said: “If we come up with a good story, we’ll do it."
Posted Wednesday 6/27/18 at 9:42PM EDT
Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell was a show five years ahead of its time
Source: The New York Times
Bell, now host of CNN's United Shades of America, had a Chris Rock-produced FX (and, later, FXX) late-night talk show that ran for two seasons, from 2012 to 2013. Yet its legacy lies in the rising stars it showcased, including comedians Guy Branum (now host of Talk Show the Game Show), Hari Kondabolu (of The Problem with Apu fame) and Aparna Nancherla (who is "everywhere right now") -- not to mention Bell himself. As Jason Zinoman notes, Totally Biased's "legacy has only grown thanks to the success of its on-air talent, particularly its crew of progressive, diverse stand-up correspondents, many of whom got their first major national exposure on the show." Bell's show, Zinoman adds, was unlike other shows at the time: "Less wonky, more polemical and eager to engage in debate. Unlike many hosts, he was not afraid to cede center stage, putting the spotlight on an exchange about rape jokes between Lindy West and Jim Norton, for instance." ALSO: W. Kamau Bell discusses his new Netflix special, Private School Negro.
Posted Saturday 6/23/18 at 3:55AM EDT
The Simpsons writer calls Trump "a shot in the arm for the show," defends calling The Problem with Apu "a nasty little documentary"
"I'll get right to it: I mean, the Trump years have been a shot in the arm for the show," says longtime Simpsons writer Mike Reiss, author of the new book Springfield Confidential. "They've really been great for us. The show's quality or its creativity have always pegged to how weird the news is and how crazy society has gotten and it's never been better. The proof of this is, Donald Trump was elected President on November 8, 2016; on November 9 Fox called us and said, 'You're picked up for two more years.' He really is a job creator." (Actually, The Simpsons was renewed for two seasons on Nov. 4, four days before Election Day.) As for Hari Kondabolu's documentary The Problem with Apu, Reiss says: "First up, I agree with him. I have no problem with this point; it's given us great pause. It's a nasty documentary. The documentary ends with them stabbing a picture of Apu. I just think that's gross and weird and a little sick. He's just a cartoon character. Don't stab him; don't stab anyone." He adds that Apu was addressed two years ago and "for all the outrage about Apu, he hasn't had a line in three years."
Posted Monday 4/30/18 at 8:42PM EDT
The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu: "Matt Groening finally responded & sounds like every other troll on the internet who didn’t see the documentary"
The Simpsons creator told USA Today last week when asked about the Apu controversy, "I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended." Kondabolu responded to Groening's comment, tweeting: "Well, that seals it. Matt Groening finally responded & sounds like every other troll on the internet who didn’t see the documentary. No one is offended by this character. It was, at times, insulting & was frustrating to many of us who were solely represented by that one image." ALSO: Groening's remark is "the height of willful ignorance."
Posted Friday 4/27/18 at 1:37PM EDT
Matt Groening on The Simpsons' Apu controversy: "I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended"
Source: USA Today
Asked by USA Today if he had any thoughts about The Problem with Apu criticism, The Simpsons creator said: "Not really. I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended." He added: "We’ll let the show speak for itself."
Posted Thursday 4/26/18 at 1:08PM EDT
The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu on The Simpsons: "Honestly, I wasn’t trying to troll, but if I was, I won"
The Indian-American comedian -- speaking the day before Hank Azaria said he was willing to "step down" from voicing Apu -- said of The Simpsons episode responding to his TruTV documentary: "You’re not supposed to respond to me, you’re The Simpsons! You’re supposed to just keep going, pretend nothing happened. The fact that they buckled like that, to me, is also an indication of, like, white fragility. Oh my god, so somebody on a cable network said something about your show that’s been on for 30 years, and everyone obviously loves you and they don’t really know what my critique completely is, but still, because it damaged you in some small way, all the white writers freaked out and destroyed (the character of) Lisa. What is that? That’s white fragility."
Posted Wednesday 4/25/18 at 4:58AM EDT
Hank Azaria offers to "step aside" from Apu role, calls on The Simpsons to listen to South Asians
Asked by Stephen Colbert about the Apu controversy, Azaria said, “the idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad.” Azaria said he'd be “perfectly willing and happy to step aside” from voicing Apu, adding: “I’ve given this a lot of thought, really a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened. And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country and they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character and what their American experience of it has been.” The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu responded to Azaria's comments, tweeting: "Thank you, @HankAzaria. I appreciate what you said & how you said it."
Posted Tuesday 4/24/18 at 10:40PM EDT
The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu is coming out with a Netflix special
Source: Paste Magazine
The Indian-American comedian and The Simpsons fan/critic will unveil Warn Your Relatives on May 8.
Posted Wednesday 4/11/18 at 5:23PM EDT
The Problem with Apu will be re-aired on TruTV following The Simpsons' "response" to the documentary
Hari Kondabolu's one-hour documentary on the controversial Simpsons character originally aired last November and is available to stream on TruTV's website. But following this week's uproar over The Simpsons' response, TruTV has announced plans to re-air the documentary this Sunday at 7 p.m.
Posted Tuesday 4/10/18 at 7:15PM EDT
Indian-American Simpsons fan relates his story about his Apu-like father
Addressing The Problem with Apu director Hari Kondabolu, Amar Shah wondered if he had talked to actual Indian-American convenience store owners. To which Kondabolu responded that he did, and that that footage was left on the cutting room floor. Shah went on to relate his father's story, saying: "I agree with some of your points @harikondabolu, but this is much more than some stereotype. For some of us, we lived this life. It was our story. It's my story."
Posted Monday 4/09/18 at 6:11PM EDT
The Simpsons' response to Apu is what happens when a show loses its identity after being on for "a long damn time"
The Simpsons was once the rebellious outsider, says Jen Chaney. Now, it's the Establishment, incapable of grappling with Apu. "When it first dominated the pop-culture landscape in the early 1990s," says Cheney, "a lot of the show’s appeal stemmed from its skillful and fearless tendency to jam its thumb in the eye of the American Establishment, by highlighting white male laziness via Homer, the crass privileged class via Mr. Burns, and a whole host of other marks of ignorance — from sexism to intolerance of vegetarians — via the crusading Lisa Simpson, the show’s perpetual 8-year-old voice of reason. For all of the stereotypes he has embodied, even some of the jokes generated by Apu actually pointed a finger at the abhorrent attitudes that Indian-Americans have to tolerate from their Caucasian counterparts." Chaney adds: "One could argue that The Simpsons is now the Establishment, and has been for a while. Once you become the Establishment, there is a tendency become lazy and complacent, while also feeling fiercely defensive of one’s legacy. In my view, that combination of factors plays a key role in the show’s inability to fully own up to the Apu problem."
- The Simpsons was "utterly dishonest" with its response since Apu isn't a central character: "His existence at the periphery — his very flatness, and his definition as a bag of signifiers meant to scream 'INDIAN!' is integral to what it means to write a racist stereotype," says Linda Holmes. "It's galling that writers will force a character to exist as funny scenery and then complain that they cannot change him without upsetting the emotional arc of the series."
- The Simpsons didn't have to address the controversy -- Apu has become "a genuine, multidimensional character" -- but last night's episode amounted to a "glib 'f*ck off"
- The Simpsons made Lisa Simpson sound like a "wealthy middle-aged white male writer"
- Molly Ringwald demonstrated how to address problematic past depictions with her recent New Yorker essay on her John Hughes films
Posted Monday 4/09/18 at 1:45PM EDT
The Simpsons dismisses Apu criticism, sparking backlash
Source: The New York Times
The Simpsons' acknowledgement of the Apu controversy on Sunday's episode came nearly five months after Hari Kondabolu's The Problem with Apu documentary made headlines by delving into the hit cartoon's Indian-American stereotype. "On Sunday night, The Simpsons, a cultural staple and television’s longest-running sitcom, now in its 29th season, finally responded: with a dismissive nod that earned the show more criticism, especially from Mr. Kondabolu himself," writes Sopan Deb, adding: "The writers of the episode — one of whom was Matt Groening, the show’s creator — received immediate backlash. Some viewers found the response tone deaf, and criticized the choice of Lisa, often the show’s moral center, to voice it." For his part, Kondabolu sent out a series of tweets last night saying "The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress." This morning, he added: "TO THE JOURNALISTS WHO HAVE ASKED ME FOR A PUBLIC STATEMENT ABOUT LAST NIGHT’S SIMPSONS EPISODE, I JUST WANT SAY: 'Congratulations to the Simpsons for being talked about & being seen as relevant again.'"
- W. Kamau Bell: Having Lisa Simpson make this "argument" was what it made it most ridiculous and toothless
- The Simpsons' response was petty and remarkably regressive
- It was a surprisingly glib response considering Hank Azaria's thoughtful response to the controversy
- It was remarkably tone-deaf and callous response
- Asked to comment, Showrunner Al Jean said: "No the episode speaks for itself"
- On Twitter, Jean defended Apu by noting that Hank Azaria won an Emmy for voicing the character
- Jean also retweeted a Twitter user who tweeted "I'm Indian" and "Loved how you guys handled this non-issue"
Posted Friday 1/12/18 at 6:58PM EST
Hank Azaria: The Simpsons will “definitely address” criticism over the Apu character
Source: TV Guide
Azaria didn’t say if The Simpsons reached out to comedian Hari Kondabolu to discuss Apu after his The Problem with Apu documentary made headlines. But Azaria said at the TV press tour, while promoting Brockmire for IFC, that “they will definitely address, maybe publicly but certainly creatively within the context of the show, what they want to do, if anything, differently with the character.” Azaria also said he’s been thinking a lot about the criticism about the Indian immigrant character. "The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased — or worse — based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, or the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing, especially in post-9/11 America," he said. "The idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally."
Posted Monday 12/04/17 at 9:35PM EST
The Problem with Apu’s Hari Kondabolu wants The Simpsons to make Apu more interesting, not drop the character
Kondabolu tells TMZ he doesn’t want to see Hank Azaria discontinue the Indian character or the accent. He would just like Apu to stop being so one-dimensional and predictable. ALSO: It seems like Azaria missed the point of Kondabolu's film.
Posted Monday 12/04/17 at 7:43AM EST
Hank Azaria: The Problem with Apu “gave us a lot of things to think about and we really are thinking about it”
TMZ asked The Simpsons star about Hari Kondabolu’s recent documentary. Azaria responded that “I think it’s an important conversation worth having. We’re still thinking about it. It’s a lot to digest.” He also said: “Definitely anybody that was hurt or offended by it, or by any character or vocal performance, it’s really upsetting that it was offensive or hurtful to anybody.” After TMZ posted its video, Kondabolu tweeted: “Apu doesn’t ‘offend’ me, he ‘insults’ me...and my community. I’m an adult with bigger things to deal with. My film was meant to tell you to go f*ck yourself & discuss why I want you to go fuck yourself & how we can prevent future incidents of people wishing others ‘self-f*ckery.’”