Indian-Americans and TVLatest 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 Thursday 7/12/18 at 5:29PM EDT
More people of color were nominated for Emmys this year than ever before
Source: TV Guide
According to TV Guide's tally, 38 people of color were nominated in the top categories, form Lin-Manuel Miranda to Sandra Oh to Trevor Noah. That's nearly double from 2016, when 21 people of color were nominated. ALSO: Sandra Oh and Darren Criss' nominations show the two ways to diversity casting.
# TOPICS: Emmys, 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Darren Criss, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sandra Oh, Trevor Noah, African Americans and TV, Asian Americans and TV, Diversity, Indian-Americans and TV, Latinos and TV
Posted Saturday 5/12/18 at 12:41AM EDT
Katie Holmes' FBI drama, Cagney & Lacey and The Greatest American Hero are among the most surprising rejected pilots
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
"We just found out that network tv isn't ready for the first brown female superhero on tv," New Girl star Hannah Simone tweeted when she learned that her Indian-American reboot of the 1980s ABC superhero series failed to make next year's ABC schedule. CBS' rejection of the Cagney & Lacey reboot pilot means Grey's Anatomy star Sarah Drew has lost two jobs in as many weeks. Fox's passing on Katie Holmes' FBI drama marks the second time that she has been passed over for her first regular series role since Dawson's Creek. According to The Hollywood Reporter, there's a possibility of reshooting the pilot if Holmes approves. The most surprising rejected pilot is Bad Boys spinoff L.A's Finest starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony wanted to package L.A.'s Finest with Norman Lear's passion project Guess Who Died and bubble shows Timeless and The Blacklist. Now both pilots are being shopped, while a decision hasn't been made on The Blacklist and Timeless.
Posted Tuesday 5/08/18 at 1:23PM EDT
The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu thinks it's "too late" for Hank Azaria to step aside from The Simpsons' Apu role
Source: The Daily Beast
Kondabolu says he doesn't think The Simpsons writers or Matt Groening saw his truTV documentary -- but he thinks Azaria did -- because his film made clear that he didn't think Apu was made with nefarious purposes. "The Simpsons’ writers’ response is a response of people who didn’t see the film," he says. "That’s what I mean about fragility. I’m trying to have a nuanced discussion and they’re acting like the trolls on the internet who don’t read or watch anything and then question it." As for Azaria saying recently he'd step aside from the role, Kondabolu says: "I mean, personally, I think it’s too late. I think he can have the voice, but what can you do to make it more current, to make (Apu) more upwardly mobile? How about his kids’ voices? I think it would be funny if Apu’s kids were made fun of at school because of their father. Ultimately, there are creative solutions they haven’t explored and it’s bullsh*t to say they can’t change."
Posted Friday 5/04/18 at 1:53PM EDT
Priyanka Chopra says The Simpsons' Apu "was the bane of my life, growing up"
The Quantico star said she personally experienced the ramifications of the controversial Indian-American character, telling The View: “A lot of people are talking about, ‘oh, the show was so successful for 30 years, why are we suddenly waking up and being offended by a character that everyone loved.' The population of Indian-Americans in America has tripled … so the voice is louder, the representation and the demand for representation for people of color is louder.”
Posted Wednesday 5/02/18 at 1:17PM EDT
Longtime The Simpsons writer says Apu is practically already gone from the show
Source: Vanity Fair
Mike Reiss says he's puzzled by recent The Problem with Apu controversy because the writers were aware three or four years ago that the Indian-American character was problematic, which is why they came up with the 2016 "Much Apu About Something" episode. Apu “has barely been in the show since then. People are saying, ‘Get Apu off the show.’ Well, he’s not on!" says Reiss, who's promoting his new Simpsons book Springfield Confidential. “There is all this hoopla about Apu," he says, "and the fact is we were cued into this three or four years ago. We did an episode then to address it." Reiss adds: “Though there’s a lot of discussion on Apu, he’s barely had a line in the past three seasons. Hank Azaria saying he won’t voice the character anymore is like Val Kilmer announcing he won’t play Batman again—no one’s asking him to.”
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 Monday 4/30/18 at 2:02PM EDT
Indian-American movie producer Adi Shankar is crowdsourcing a plan to fix The Simpsons' Apu
Source: The Verge
The Dredd and Lone Survivor producer has launched “Crowdsourcing the cure for The Simpsons," a free competition open to everyone, but it offers the following warning: “If you don’t have any experience with Indian culture in America then you may not have the perspective and experience to write well on this topic." Shankar says he'll take the winning script to The Simpsons' writers' room and Fox and ask them to run it, and hire its writer full-time.
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 Monday 4/16/18 at 11:31PM EDT
The Simpsons' Apu controversy is what happens when a show is stuck in an eternal 1990
"The show seems to take pride in the way it hasn’t changed since 1989, even as change is a fact of life," Todd VanDerWerff says of "the horrible way" showrunner Al Jean has reacted to the controversy over Apu. "And for a show that likes to satirize everything, its inability to talk about aging, about shifting political opinions, about how different America has become, ends up miring it in a past it could so easily escape." With the Roseanne revival in mind, VanDerWerff wonders what would've happened if Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge and Maggie had grown up? What if they were 29 years older? "I keep thinking about a Simpsons where everything had changed, and just by its very nature, such a show would have had to deal with Apu slightly better (though (Hank) Azaria would probably still be playing him)," he says. "When things can change within your fictional universe, it’s only natural for the characters to grow and change with them. "
Posted Saturday 4/14/18 at 12:07AM EDT
A journalist of South Asian descent says "most of us happily embraced Apu" in the 1990s, but The Simpsons can fix its most controversial character
Source: The Washington Post
"For those of us with low expectations, starving for any representation, Apu was a breath of fresh air," says Wajahat Ali, the son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants who grew up near Silicon Valley. While other portrayals showed brown people as cab drivers or terrorists, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon "was an integral character in the Simpsons universe who was able to be a co-protagonist of several episodes," he says. "Only in a cartoon, we thought, could people who look like us achieve such a feat." But that doesn't mean Apu or The Simpsons "get a lifetime pass to perpetuate lazy stereotypes," he says. "Any piece of art, no matter how well intentioned, harmless or silly, is not above reproach or critical examination... Instead of engaging with the issue of representation, which would have made for a more satirical and topical show — you know, the type The Simpsons used to do years ago — the writers responded with the worst creative sin: laziness." What The Simpsons shouldn't have done, he says, is "hijack your show’s most intellectual and empathetic voice, Lisa, as a foil for the writers’ unwillingness to be self-critical and engage their blind spots when it comes to listening to people of color who feel silenced and misunderstood. Thus, the show engages in another major sin: omission. After Lisa’s finger-wagging, the camera pans to a photo of Apu with the inscription 'Don’t have a cow!' Apu, who is a supporting character, is robbed of lines, rendered mute and frozen in a suffocating frame, smiling as a token prop. That’s exactly how so many people of color feel in real life — all the time." Ali adds: "What The Simpsons should have done was a stand-alone episode centered on Apu, who, after becoming a citizen many years ago, is confronted with an immigrant travel ban...Nobody would have a cow. But we would have an intelligent, critical, satirical show that at least confronts problematic issues instead of running away from them."
- Showrunner Al Jean explained why Lisa Simpson defended Apu, but why did she look at the camera?
- Jean criticized for tweeting conservative media in The Simpsons' defense
- Jean tweeted a link to the National Review piece: "Why the Apu Simpsons Controversy Bothers Me as an Indian American"
- Harry Shearer stuck up for the show, tweeting to Hari Kondabolu: "Bart, a pre-pubescent boy, is played by an adult woman. What's up with that?"
- BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg slammed The Simpsons response: "Imagine choosing to describe yourself and your work as 'applauded and inoffensive'"
- Bill Maher defends The Simpsons' response to Apu: "If you spend your time combing through old TV shows to identify stuff that by today’s standards looks bad, you’re not ‘woke,’ you’re just a douchebag"
Posted Friday 4/13/18 at 1:17PM EDT
The Simpsons boss: "I truly appreciate all responses pro and con" to our response to the Apu controversy
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Showrunner Al Jean tweeted this morning that the show "will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right."
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.