After 31 years working behind the counter of Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart, Indian shopkeeper Apu is going to be dropped from The Simpsons.
The long-running show has come under fire for its depiction of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, with viewers complaining that the character promotes racist stereotypes of people of Indian and Asian descent. It’s supposedly racist of Apu to own a supermarket, because many other Indian people in Britain and America do. Apu, you bigot!
The Simpsons producer Adi Shankar, who himself is of Indian ancestry, spoke to IndieWire about his attempts to crowdsource a script that tackled the ‘Apu Problem’, which has now been rejected as the character is to be dropped from the show.
“I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” he said. “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.”
Shankar sees the decision as a mistake, saying: “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.
“It’s not a step forward, or step backwards, it’s just a massive step sideways. After having read all these wonderful scripts, I feel like sidestepping this issue doesn’t solve it when the whole purpose of art, I would argue, is to bring us together.”
The controversy began last year when comedian Hari Kondabolu hosted The Problem With Apu, a documentary that saw him interview figures from the world of entertainment including Aziz Ansari, Whoopi Goldberg and Kal Penn to look into what they said was the problematic nature of the iconic shop owner. The documentary’s presenter claimed the character is tainted “a little bit of the poison of racism. Apu reflected how America viewed us: servile, devious, goofy.”
Reaction to the news of Apu’s departure began to filter on to Twitter and the majority of people were not impressed.
This is the biggest ‘joke’ The Simpsons team have ever made. A load of complete nonsense. What about those of us Asians who loved Apu? We recognise that many of us are shopkeepers but are aware that not all of us are. The solution is more varied depictions not less. Regressive. https://t.co/DN38kkP0Pq
— Adil Ray OBE (@adilray) October 27, 2018
What a silly cowardly decision. As a person of Indian ancestry, my favourite character was 'Apu' and I know of no one in my community who was 'offended'. Politically correct bleeding heart White liberals r hellbent on washing their guilt at our expense, to hide their own racism. https://t.co/TNbVvu4j21
— Tarek Fatah (@TarekFatah) October 26, 2018
(Articles reflect the views of the author, and not necessarily those of Luke Nash-Jones, The Red Pill Factory, or Make Britain Great Again.)