‘Simpsons’ Star Hank Azaria Is ‘Willing to Step Aside’ From Apu
The Simpsons’ response to decades of Apu concerns proved less than ideal, and it’s still unclear if the FOX animation staple will consider changes. Star Hank Azaria is rethinking his role, however, and now claims he’s “willing to step aside.”
Azaria addressed the matter during an appearance on The Late Show With Steven Colbert, despite having previously deflected questions about comedian Hari Kondabolu’s The Problem With Apu documentary. Following backlash to The Simpsons‘ poor on-air acknowledgment of the issue, Azaria told Colbert he regrets offending anyone and hopes the show considers South Asian voices – even those calling for Apu’s retirement:
The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad. It certainly was not my intention. I wanted to bring joy and laughter to people … I had nothing to do with the writing or the voicing [in that episode]. […]
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened. I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room … including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me.
The early April episode saw Marge and Lisa debating the merits of a children’s book that had since become politically incorrect. A brief exchange addressed the audience with a framed photo of Apu in the background, though both characters appeared to shrug off the controversy and doubt any changes would be made. Showrunner Al Jean defended the scene at first, but subsequently vowed to find the “right” response to Apu’s stereotypical Indian portrayal.
It could be some months before The Simpsons returns to the matter, but should Azaria follow through on retiring Apu?
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