NEW YORK • Three years in the past, Hank Azaria defended Apu Nahasapeemapetilon as being one illustration of a personality of Indian descent amongst many on the pop-culture panorama – a quarter-century after Apu debuted on The Simpsons.
“I’ve done every possible nationality on the show,” voice actor Azaria stated then, casting himself as “an equal-opportunity offender, if I’m an offender”.
But on Tuesday, he stated he’s keen to “step aside” from voicing Apu.
Azaria was on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to advertise his IFC comedy present, Brockmire, however speak naturally turned to Apu.
The comfort retailer clerk character has come beneath criticism for many years for being a hurtful stereotype of an immigrant ethnic minority, however a documentary in autumn, titled The Problem With Apu, sparked a brand new firestorm.
The Fox present’s obvious response to the documentary, embedded inside an episode of the animated collection this month, stoked the general public debate to new ranges, with some cultural critics decoding the present’s stance as one among smug indifference.
On Tuesday, Azaria struck a sharply completely different, extra openhearted tone. “My eyes have been opened,” he advised Colbert, noting that he had given the difficulty quite a lot of thought.
“And I think the most important thing is, we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people, in this country, when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character. And what their American experience of it has been.”
Azaria proceeded to clarify his stance on two elements of the controversy: how Apu is dealt with as a personality and, extra broadly, how the present addresses variety among the many inventive ranks.
“As you know, in television terms, listening to voices means inclusion in the writers’ room,” Azaria continued. “I actually need to see Indian, South Asian author (or) writers within the writers’ room.
“Not in a token manner, however genuinely informing no matter new path this character might take, together with how it’s voiced, or not voiced.
“I’m perfectly happy and willing to step aside or help transition it into something new,” he added.
“I really hope that’s what this instance does. It not only makes sense – it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”
On April eight, The Simpsons aired the episode No Good Read Goes Unpunished, by which the household units apart digital units for books.
In revisiting a childhood favorite, although, mom Marge sees that stereotypes abound and so revises the e-book with cultural correctives, as considered via a 21st-century prism.
The episode leaves it to daughter Lisa, the present’s resident progressive champion of the marginalised outsider, to ask powerlessly: “What can you do when something that started decades ago and was applauded and deemed inoffensive by many is now politically incorrect?”
Next to Lisa was a framed image of Apu signed with the inscription in an unsubtle dig: “Don’t have a cow.”
That episode drew a wave of criticism, with Brooklyn stand-up comedian Hari Kondabolu, The Problem With Apu film-maker, calling the present’s response a “sad” flip that appeared a “jab” towards progress.
But in response to Tuesday’s Colbert episode, Kondabolu tweeted: “Thank you, Hank Azaria. I appreciate what you said and how you said it.”