Comedian and writer Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem with Apu” made headlines in recent months with its genuine and interesting questions about the character of Apu in “The Simpsons” and how the portrayal reaffirmed problematic views of western stereotypes of people of Indian descent.
The writers of the series responded using the show’s most progressive central character, Lisa, to deliver a bizarre message that made light of the issue. People were not pleased with the response, to put it lightly, and now the man at the center of all this – voice actor Hank Azaria – has spoken about the issue with Stephen Colbert.
The very caucasian Azaria offered his response and has made a gesture which has actually scored much praise. He said:
“I have given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened. I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel, how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been.
Listening to voices means inclusion in the writer’s room. I really want to see Indians, South Asian writers in the room. Not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take. Including how it is voiced, or not voiced.
I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what ‘The Simpsons’ does, it not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”
Kondabolu is in full support of Azaria, responding to the interview with “Thank you, @HankAzaria. I appreciate what you said & how you said it.”
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) April 25, 2018