The Problem With ApuLatest 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 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 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 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 Wednesday 4/11/18 at 1:11PM EDT
The Simpsons predicted its "bad response" to the Apu controversy in a 1994 episode
Source: The Daily Dot
Animator Hamish Steele points out that this week's Lisa Simpson was unlike the Lisa Simpson of 1994. As Ramon Ramirez notes, "Twitter users have pointed out that the Apu controversy is basically that time Lisa wanted a less-patronizing Malibu Stacy doll for young girls. In 1994’s 'Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy,' Lisa fights for institutional change by pointing out that the popular, Barbie-esque Malibu Stacy doll is stuck in 1950s gender roles that emphasize homemaking. In the end, the toy manufacturers she protests respond by releasing a new Malibu Stacy: It’s the same doll, but this time she comes with a new hat."
- "The tragedy of The Simpsons is not just that bad episodes now far outnumber the good ones," says Village Voice film critic Alan Scherstuhl. "It's that when called out by a brash smart younger generation, the Simpsons writers exposed themselves as just as fuddy-duddy clueless as George HW Bush did when he called out The Simpsons."
- "Hands off Apu Nahasapeemapetilon": "Indeed, Apu is now problematic," says Kyle Smith. "Apu has been appearing on the show for 28 years, but only in the last ten seconds did he become offensive. There may be a bit of opportunism at work here. It’s easier to cry racism than it is to get laughs."
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 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"