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Countrywide Assessment

No, Hank Azaria Does not Have to Apologize to Indian People for Apu

As 1 of the world’s leading experts on Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (indeed, this is sarcasm!), I have after again been requested to bring my extensive skills to a single of the good controversies of our generation: Is Apu a racist figure? I have prepared about this controversy a lot of times, both equally for Countrywide Overview, as nicely as for other publications. And “controversy” is an exaggeration this is mainly a created-up issue, contrived for people to assert victim status, not a accurate affront to equality and justice. The newest foray in the Apu wars was a comment designed by Hank Azaria, a white male who has extensive been the voice actor for the famously Indian character. Previously this week, appearing as a guest on the Armchair Expert podcast, Azaria took his self-flagellation to the next degree: “I was speaking at my son’s university, I was speaking to the Indian kids there simply because I desired to get their enter,” Azaria stated. “A 17-year-outdated … he’s by no means even observed The Simpsons but knows what Apu indicates. It’s nearly a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his folks are considered of and represented to quite a few people today in this place.” The boy, “with tears in his eyes,” Azaria explained, asked the actor to notify Hollywood writers what they do matters and has ramifications on people’s life. Azaria said he would provide the message. “I genuinely do apologize,” Azaria claimed. “It’s essential. I apologize for my part in developing that and collaborating in that. Section of me feels like I have to have to go to every single one Indian human being in this state and personally apologize. And sometimes I do.” But the Apu wars preceded Azaria’s latest self-flagellation. They largely started with The Dilemma with Apu, a documentary/comedy created and generated by Hari Kondabolu, an Indian-American stand-up comic. The movie lays out the situation that Apu has grow to be a image of racial stereotypes and bigotry, and that the character has propagated prejudice in opposition to Asian People — Indian People in particular. From early on, I explained that Kondabolu was off foundation. Listed here is what I wrote to begin with in April 2018: That mentioned, Kondabolu’s tirade mainly runs off the tracks as he blames the Apu character for all sorts of slights and insults throughout his career: “Apu was the only Indian we experienced on Tv at all so I was delighted for any illustration as a child. . . . He’s amusing, but that doesn’t indicate this illustration is precise or ideal or righteous. It gets to the insidiousness of racism, nevertheless, due to the fact you don’t even recognize it when it is appropriate in front of you.” The ridiculousness of this assertion is practically much too a lot to bear. On the present, Apu is a strongly accented, regular Indian immigrant. As these, he is the proprietor of a benefit keep (obviously a nod to the quite a few 7-11s and other tiny firms owned by Indians during the northeastern United States), who later receives an organized relationship, has octuplets, and is revealed as a superb father and husband. He is also, among the other matters, a gun operator who is incredibly spiritual and devoted to his Hindu lifestyle. Some swiftly condemned my place, and many others only attacked it as blind and ignorant. In the meantime, the producers of The Simpsons seemed to be on my facet, nevertheless sooner or later the controversy resulted in the predictable Hollywood reaction: They nearly killed off Apu from the popular animated display. For the showrunners, who likely believe that Apu is a respectable, lovable character, a war with the woke mob wasn’t worthy of the hard work. Azaria has been attacked for his participation in this meant atrocity as perfectly. He originally politely appeared on Kondabolu’s documentary, but was mainly blindsided by the issues. He then was criticized for not giving satisfactory responses to statements of racism and bigotry. Yet again, as predicted, fairly than continuing to struggle the thankless war in opposition to the woke mob, Azaria merely lifted the white flag of surrender. In 2018, he determined to completely quit voicing the character. Unsurprisingly, that did not finish the saga for Azaria. Charges of racism have dogged him ever because. As a result his self-flagellation on the Armchair Professional podcast. Seemingly, the ridiculousness never finishes. But it should really. For just one matter, does Azaria really imagine most Indians give this even the most fleeting, passing thought? The Simpsons is not greatly viewed, or even offered, in India. There was a shorter period throughout the 1990s when the display attained some notoriety there, but mainly because folks fell in appreciate with the character of Apu. 1.4 billion Indians don’t seriously care. The couple of right here in the U.S. who do treatment have, for the most aspect, misdiagnosed a issue, and blamed, in an extraordinary and head-boggling twist of logic . . . a cartoon character. Request most young children in higher school right now about Apu, and you’ll come across not only that couple have ever watched The Simpsons, but also that couple of even have a clue who Apu is. The possibilities that bigots at Azaria’s son’s faculty are employing this character as their most important weapon in opposition to Indian-American college students are quite minimal. I explored this many years in the past, in an informal setting with several Indian-American college students. I requested what Hollywood character was most applied to “insult” their ancestry the respond to was not Apu from The Simpsons. It was Raj, the closely accented immigrant Indian on The Big Bang Theory. With the end of that exhibit, even that reference is now dated. I have requested many pupils this query above the yrs, and I have received incredibly comparable responses. Other names that are normally brought up contain Baljeet, an Indian animated character on the Disney present Phineas and Ferb, and Dopinder, the seriously accented taxi driver in the Deadpool movies. Apu is just about never ever brought up as the weapon of selection from the prejudiced attackers. Any one see a pattern? Bigots treatment not about what weapon they use to damage the targets of their attack. They will use anything that is hassle-free. The figures, for that reason, are not the problem the bigots are. In the times very long neglected, it was the term ‘dotheads’ (referring to the crimson dots that we Hindus sometimes adorn on our foreheads) that was most generally made use of. Also, does any one feel the coloration of the voice actor matters? Azaria has repeatedly claimed that only individuals of color need to voice these people, but the illustrations above had been voiced by South-Asian actors, and the concentrating on even now occurred. The only other remedy is . . . to hardly ever show Indian characters at all, proper? The reality that, decades soon after Azaria remaining the character of Apu driving, he still feels compelled to apologize (evidently, individually to each individual Indian soul, which indicates about one particular-sixth of the total inhabitants of the earth) displays how ludicrous the social-media mob has come to be. Azaria conceded the position to progressives, did exactly what they wished him to do, and is nonetheless dogged by the controversy. There is no pleasing the remaining-wing mob. As for Azaria apologizing: Most Indians would not know who he was, and would not care. But I am not most Indians. I would love a private go to by Hank Azaria to my house so that he could apologize to me and my relatives. I can’t picture anything at all would be a lot more fulfilling than conference 1 of my comedic heroes in individual, the great and everlasting voice of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. As one of the Indian People in america who has been most qualified for his placement on this concern, I assume I have earned an apology. Give me a simply call, Hank. We can make it happen.

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