If you were a kid in the ’90s, it’s extremely likely that you rocked Simpsons t-shirts, wrangled Bart Simpson figurines from Mc Donald’s Happy Meals, and tuned in Sunday nights to FOX for your weekly Springfield fix. With its irreverent script and young bad boy protagonist, no one would say that The Simpsons raised us. But its multimillion-dollar franchises, toy deals, and its two-decade run? Yeah, we did that.
And after all that legacy, The Simpsons creators are still stuck in tone-deaf times and have not come to grips (or owned up to) the racist undertones of its Indian character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Even more cringe-worthy, the writers used the show’s characters to deliver their dismissal. On Sunday night’s episode, Lisa says: “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
With its irreverent script and young bad boy protagonist, no one would say that The Simpsons raised us. But its multimillion-dollar franchises, toy deals, and its two-decade run? Yeah, we did that.
Needless to say, the backlash was immediate, and in all honesty, warranted. In November, comedian Hari Kondabolu examined Apu’s painful symbolism in the documentary, The Problem With Apu. In the doc, we see Kondabolu, of East Indian descent, attempt to contact Hank Azaria, who’s voiced Apu since his inception, and explain just why his exaggerated Indian accent is offensive. Azaria declined to speak with him, but Kondabolu was dismissed by a Simpsons writer in the documentary, who basically wanted him to just get over it.This is why Sunday’s episode comes as no surprise, but does not make it any less horrifying.
But after one viewing of The Problem With Apu, it’s clear just how many Indian actors and children in the ’90s were affected by this grossly racist interpretation of what America could view as a true example of their own families.
This is why Sunday’s episode comes as no surprise, but does not make it any less horrifying. As millennial audiences were raised up The Simpsons, the generation’s power does have the ability to bring it down. As quickly as streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu ascend, there’s virtually no need to tune into FOX Sunday nights for a primetime fix.
If The Simpsons does not grow into modern times and do right by its audience, the show and Apu will be left behind.
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