The Simpons’ convenience store-owning Apu, who talks in a highly stereotypical Indian accent, has shaped the reductive and often humiliating way that Americans view people of South Asian descent, writes Robert Ito of The New York Times. Stand-up comedian Hari Kondabolu will release his documentary, “The Problem with Apu”, on November 19th, which explores how Indian-Americans have been affected by Apu’s impact on US culture. From actors being constantly boxed in with token roles to families being harassed and bullied, Apu has created a humiliating image of Indians. Society should move on from accepting such bigoted stereotypes.
The character of Apu, while over-the-top and a strong caricature, fits with The Simpsons’ wider narrative of exaggerated and comical characters that are parodies of themselves and what they represent, infers Nam Winston of Mama Mia. Winston is of Indian descent and never found Apu to be offensive. In fact, Apu often comes across as more serious and put-together next to the inept Homer Simpson. The show looks at many different groups, from teachers, police officers, alcoholics, the rich, gay people and other ethnic minorities, and makes fun of them equally relentlessly. Apu fits in with this trend and doesn’t stand out as overly offensive.