Controversial Simpsons character Apu is reportedly being axed from the show after months of debate.
One of the show’s producers confirmed to IndieWire that they will “drop the Apu character altogether”.
“They aren’t going to make a big deal out of it, or anything like that, but they’ll drop him altogether just to avoid the controversy,” Adi Shankar said.
The popular animated show came under scrutiny over its portrayal of convenience store Kwik-owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, who first appeared on the show in 1990. He is voiced by actor Hank Azaria.
Comedian Hari Kondabolu released a documentary in November 2017 titled The Problem With Apu, where he explained how the character and his thick Indian accent was based on hurtful stereotypes.
“Everything with Apu is like this running joke,” Kondabolu told the New York Times. “And the running joke is that he’s Indian.”
The Simpsons addressed the racial controversy surrounding the character in a brief scene of an episode that was described as a “slap in the face” by critics.
The show producers featured a brief scene with Lisa and Marge Simpson, who is reading an updated version of The Princess in the Garden that was edited to make it acceptable for 2018.
At one point, Lisa turns to the camera and says: “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
Lisa then looks at a picture of Apu with the catchphrase “Don’t have a cow!” written on it.
“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge says.
“If at all,” Lisa responds.
Simpsons creator Matt Groening has previously expressed unwillingness to scrap the character, commenting in July this year: “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. It seems very, very clunky.”
Shankar said he views the decision to axe Apu as a mistake. “If you are a show about cultural commentary and you are too afraid to comment on the culture, especially when it’s a component of the culture you had a hand in creating, then you are a show about cowardice,” he said.
“It’s not a step forward, or step backwards, it’s just a massive step sideways.”
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