Hank Azaria says he feels the need to apologize to “every Indian person in this country” for voicing Apu in The Simpsons.
In an interview with the Armchair Expert podcast, Azaria said the character show had contributed to “ structural racism ” and that he hadn’t known any better in the nearly 30 years he voiced the character.
When Apu was called upon to promote racist stereotypes in the 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu, Azaria and the show’s creators seemed to shake off the criticism.
Lisa Simpson addresses the controversy on an episode the following year, asking ‘what can you do’ when a character who had been loved for decades had suddenly become politically incorrect.
However, Azaria, 54, says he has since listened to Native American concerns and realized Apu was a problem.
‘I had to shut up … and listen and learn. And that took a while, ”he said.
‘This was not a two-week process: I had to train myself a lot.’
Hank Azaria says he feels the need to apologize to ‘every Indian person in this country’ for voicing The Simpsons character Apu
Apu, an Indian immigrant who runs Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart supermarket on the long-running show, first appeared in The Simpsons in 1990
Apu, an Indian immigrant who runs Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart supermarket on the long-running show, first appeared in The Simpsons in 1990.
Speak on the Armchair specialist, Azaria said the character was created with good intentions.
‘I really didn’t know any better. I haven’t thought about it. I didn’t know how much relative advantage I had gotten in this country as a white boy from Queens.
“Just because there were good intentions doesn’t mean there weren’t any real negative consequences for the cause I’m responsible for.”
In 2017, Indian-American filmmaker Hari Kondabolu released The Problem With Apu, which stated that the character played on racist stereotypes of Indian immigrants.
Azaria declined requests to appear in the documentary.
But the writers of The Simpsons addressed the controversy directly on the show.
It wasn’t until after the 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu, by Hari Kondabolu, above, that Azaria said he saw the character being problematic.
In the scene, Marge Lisa reads a bedtime story that was just a jumble of PC buzzwords.
Lisa stares straight into the camera, with a picture of Apu on the nightstand next to her, and says. Something that started decades ago and was hailed and harmless is now politically incorrect. What can you do?’
The show’s response sparked a sharp response on social media.
That same year, Azaria appeared on The Stephen Colbert Show, where he said he would like to stand aside and have someone else pronounce Apu.
The Simpsons has been a hit for Fox since its 1989 debut
He first told the Armchair Expert that he didn’t know whether to stop doing Apu because he didn’t want to make a ‘jerky reaction’ to what could just have been ’17 hipsters in a Brooklyn microbrewery ‘. .
So the following year he spoke to Indian-American groups to educate themselves – “do the work.”
“I had to educate myself a lot,” he said, appreciating his experience with Alcoholics Anonymous in helping the process.
Had I not sobered up, I promise you it wouldn’t have taken a lot of wine to be in my feelings one night and fire a tweet that I felt was justified to fire.
‘Kind of a defensive, white-vulnerable tweet. Boy, was I glad I had a system where I could look at this thing. ‘
He also apologized to the podcast’s co-host, Monica Padman, who is Indian-American.
“I know you didn’t ask for that, but it’s important. I apologize for my part in creating and participating in it. Part of me feels that I should go to every Indian person in this country and apologize.
‘Realized I’ve been dating Fate with this thing for 31 years.’
Azaria is also the voice behind Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy and many other characters.