April of this year we covered how The Simpsons tried to slyly reference the controversy that had erupted regarding the character Apu on the show. It all started when an Indian filmmaker made a documentary by Hari Kondabolu blasting the show for the stereotypes surrounding Apu and how the character was being voiced by a white man.
First off, all The Simpsons is a collection of stereotypes. Much humor is and has been mined from stereotypes about various groups, racial, ethnic and otherwise. The stereotypical drunk, the stereotypical factory worker, the stereotypical overprotective mother, the stereotypical deadbeat dad, the stereotypical nerd, stereotypes abound in Springfield and an argument could be made that nothing but stereotypes and caricatures exists in the show.
In the April episode, Marge buys a children's book for Lisa that she realizes is horrifically outdated and racist by modern standards. By the end of the episode though, she realizes that a bowdlerized version would be inoffensive but pointless. At one point the self-referential humor hits a high note when Lisa mentions "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" Marge then jumps in with a bit of what now appears to have been foreshadowing saying that it would be "dealt with at a later date, if at all."
Apparently, that later date has come.
Blogger and Glitch CEO, Anil Dash took offense after the April episode on Twitter:
"Look, I get it man. You think it’s great for white people to put on accents mocking people they refuse to hire, & then lashing out if we’re uppity enough to object. Hopefully, there are people in your life who care enough to tell you supporting brownface or blackface is awful."
Ironic considering Asians, in general, have higher median income than whites in America and Indian Americans are, on average, the highest earning Asians in America with an average of around $100,000. Apparently folks from the sub-continent are doing just fine without needing to be hired by white folks. Many are successful business owners, far many more per capita than white Americans. This reminds me of a joke that I won't tell here now, my Bengali buddy found it hilarious but some white person would certainly find offense on behalf of Indians if I "went there."
Apparently, the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon will be silently written out of the show entirely. Apu hasn't had a single line of dialogue for over a year now, but the show has decided the safest bet would be to just drop the character from the show's roster entirely.
Matt Groening told Entertainment Weekly his thoughts, “I love the character, 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.” Hank Azaria who voiced Apu said he'd be willing to step down and let an Indian take over the role but
Indian producer Adi Shankar launched a script writing contest encouraging entrants to come up with a story that would help evolve Apu "into a fresh, funny and realistic portrayal of Indian Americans." Right sure, and make sure we have respectful and realistic portrayals of alcoholics and overweight people and Christians and… you know what, if you want respectful, realistic portrayal maybe look outside the realm of cartoony caricature.