After 31 years working behind the counter of Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart, Indian shopkeeper Apu is going to be dropped from ‘The Simpsons’, according to media reports.
The cartoon character, voiced by white actor Hank Azaria, prompted heated debate in recent months after he was branded a racist caricature in a TV documentary, The Problem with Apu.
The documentary’s presenter, US comedian Hari Kondabolu, claims the character is tainted by “a little bit of the poison of racism”.
“Apu reflected how America viewed us: servile, devious, goofy,” Kondabolu said. Rather than calling for Apu to be killed off, however, he urged the writers to “keep him” and “complicate” him, to make him less of a stereotype.
Film producer Adi Shankar said he had heard from people who work on the show that they are “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.”
However, On Sunday night, Simpsons showrunner Al Jean went halfway to debunking the rumor by tweeting:
Adi Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons. I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show.
— Al Jean (@AlJean) October 28, 2018
Shankar responded that “ignoring only fans the flames”.
I wish you well too. Let’s work towards common ground. Ignoring only fans the flames. The world is polarized & getting more so, and the onus is on us to bring people together. Engage in a constructive way and this matter will go to bed. I see you, now I’m asking you to see me.
— Adi Shankar (@adishankarbrand) October 29, 2018
Apu has been a fixture on the show since 1990, and Azaria won a 1998 Emmy Award for his portrayal of the character.