‘The Simpsons’ finally addressed the controversy surrounding Apu, but missed the point.

In November 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu released a documentary called “The Problem With Apu.”

The TruTV feature was a pretty powerful look into the life of Kondabolu and other South Asian actors who’ve struggled to sidestep the stereotype of “The Simpsons”‘ Kwik-E-Mart proprietor, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon( a character was put forward by Hank Azaria ).

Throughout the documentary, Kondabolu tries and fails to get Azaria to agree to an on-camera interview about the character.

Nearly five months after the film’s release, “The Simpsons” finally issued a reply of sorts — though it’s still unclear whether they actually understand the issue.

In the April 8 episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished, ” Marge is assured reading a tale to Lisa, struggling to update an outdated passageway for the modern age.

“Well, what am I supposed to do now? ” Marge asks.

Lisa answers, rolling her eyes, “Something that started decades ago and was praised and inoffensive is now politically incorrect … What can you do? ”

The shot pans out, depicting a photo of Apu next to Lisa’s bed.

“Some things will be dealt with at a later date, ” says Marge.

Lisa answers, “If at all.” The two look directly at the audience. The segment seems to be a clear dismissal of Kondabolu’s criticism.

In other words, the stereotypical Apu wouldn’t be so bad if there were other diverse South Asian voices and characters in the media. “The Simpsons” didn’t create their own problems, but they could help solve it by taking steps to add additional characters that better represent and humanize those who are underrepresented.

The show’s response suggests that won’t be happening.

“If you merely have a handful of images, and that’s what defines a large group of people, ” Kondabolu said in an interview around the time of the documentary’s release, “then each time you have a negative image or you go after that particular group, that’s a big thing.”

“We only have to control our narratives to the best of our ability, ” he said. “That part’s on us. I think that we need to call out portrayals when they are inaccurate, when they are homophobic, when they are transphobic, when they’re racist and sexist, and when there’s fundamental things about them that are not true about an experience.”

Kondabolu is not “offended” by Apu. That needs to be made clear.

The backlash to the backlash( which, sadly, seems to be a thing these days) over Apu seems to hinge on the debate that people are just too easily offended these days, or something about “PC culture run amok! ”

“Imagine get butthurt about a cartoon character, ” one person tweeted at Kondabolu.

Again, though, it’s not about offense.

People are frustrated the present wouldn’t so much as engage in this discussion without distorting it to be about “political correctness.” Kondabolu didn’t call for Apu’s banishment, for him to be scrubbed from past episodes, or anything of the sort. He simply wanted to have a discussion about the role pop culture plays in our lives and how we find others.

The reason people are upset with how “The Simpsons” reacted is that they sidestepped the issue altogether and tried to reframe it as being about offense. It’s not.

W. Kamau Bell, host of CNN’s “United Shades of America, ” broke down why he stands with Kondabolu in trying to have these tough conversations.

We can never stop having debates just because they’re challenging, and we are capable of never permit issues of representation be reframed as unimportant. This discussion matters — and Kondabolu was brave for trying to start it.

Bell’s entire Twitter thread is worth reading, but these three tweets sum up the argument well 😛 TAGEND




“The Simpsons” may have fell the ball on their reaction, but that doesn’t mean Kondabolu and others will give up in the fight for better, more accurate media representation.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com


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