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'Simpsons' breaks TV record but faces controversy

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By Ethan Miller

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It shows American society's inability to sensibly grapple with issues of race.

If you watch interviews with Kondabolu, he never calls the show makers bigots or even racists. He even admits to ambivalence about Apu among much of the Indian community in America: even though they generally agree his depiction creates problems, many Indians, including Kondabolu himself, have said there are things about the character they like. Kondabolu isn't saying the problem is that the Simpson's hates Indian people. The problem is that Indian people appear so rarely in American pop culture that for many Americans, their only understanding of Indian culture comes from an animated caricature with an exaggerated accent voiced by a white man.

The Simpsons could have taken that criticism with grace, instead they used their platform of power to snarkily denigrate the person bringing up respectful criticism. Like how so often happens in the US.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

Funny how Apu is "offensive," when Willie the Groundskeeper, a full-on ethnic stereotype charactor, is not. Double standards are what fuel the PC brigrade .

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Funny how Apu is "offensive," when Willie the Groundskeeper, a full-on ethnic stereotype charactor, is not.

Pretty much every character on the Simpsons is a caricature.

That said, I understand how some Indians would be offended. To give a comparison of Groundskeeper Willy and Apu, when people mimic an Indian accent, in my experience they are making fun of it, and it comes across as having some underlying racial bias. When people mimic the Scottish accent however, they usually like it (it's been shown that the Scottish accent is popular among English speakers - they put call centers there for this reason). The underlying racial bias isn't there.

I actually remember thinking that it was surprising that the Simpsons could get away with Apu's accent, back when I was a younger man. Then they started developing Apu's character further, and giving it depth, and I thought it was a good thing.

This simply isn't an easy situation.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

There is this new thing called a “remote control”. You can perform an action called “changing the channel” if something offends you. Why do liberals think they have any input on what I can and can’t watch and enjoy.

Too bad no one could change the channel at that media dinner they other night. It’s probably the same justice warriors who are ok with that who pushing this.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

PC madness running completely amok once again. Smh.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

I’d say there’s no malicious intent here, but I can see how Indian people may be uncomfortable. I also think Indian peoples’ stature in US society has increased markedly over the past decades too

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I have never watched a single episode

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

JeffLeeToday  08:19 am JST

Funny how Apu is "offensive," when Willie the Groundskeeper, a full-on ethnic stereotype charactor, is not. Double standards are what fuel the PC brigrade .

Funny how the only use of the word "offensive" in this entire page prior to yours is a quote from the Simpson's themselves calling Apu "inoffensive". Meaning no one is actually calling Apu "offensive".

This is what I'm talking about. People fly into hysterics whenever a minority expresses even the slightest criticism of the status quo that people with an axe to grind misrepresent it as an accusation of offensiveness. For other examples of this over-reaction:

bass4funkToday  09:10 am JST

PC madness running completely amok once again. 

or this:

BlacklabelToday  09:04 am JST

You can perform an action called “changing the channel” if something offends you. Why do liberals think they have any input on what I can and can’t watch and enjoy.

Nobody has called Apu "offensive". Nobody has called for the Simpsons to be stopped, boycotted, or pulled off the air. Nobody has tried to influence anyone not to watch or enjoy the Simpsons. All that happened is an Indian guy who was affected by how the show portrays its main Indian character talked to other Indians about how the show affects them, and then published it as a documentary. It was a sincere, nuanced, and thoughtful discussion, and people flipped their lid about it even happening.

I would even go so far as to suspect that not a single person defending the show from the imaginary people they want to believe are attacking it even watch it anymore.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I join zichi in proudly announcing that of those 636 episodes I have seen not even one.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Simply search google for “Apu offensive” and you not only find many people calling the character offensive but also many cries of racism too.

If no one watching it anymore as you claim, then why does any of this even matter? (Hint: I still watch it and the character is funny. Don’t like it, don’t have to watch)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@katsu78

Read the title. You’re saying “what controversy?” Is that your best Alfred E. Newman impression?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@katsu78

“Nobody has called Apu "offensive".” 

 

Yes they have. Quite a few, which is kinda what the debate is about. LOL.

 

“Is Apu offensive? Hank Azaria says yes, his Simpsons’ bosses say no”

 (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-who-needs-the-kwik-e-mart-not-apu/)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

To give a comparison of Groundskeeper Willy and Apu

For a different comparison of Indian and Scottish stereotypes...

(Warning: the link contains strong language.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOYEWhjopSs

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In the documentary "The Problem with Apu," released last November, Hari Kondabolu, an actor and comedian of Indian origin, denounced the character's marked accent and other stereotypes.

I get his point. Don't think it has anything to do with Apu's character per se but rather because he belongs to an ethnic group which is already under-represented (and 'niched') by/on Western media. If Indians were also portrayed as successful businessmen, womanizers, sensitive /funny/strong/etc guys on our TV shows I guess they wouldn't mind that 'one of them' (Apu) just happened to be an old-school, first generation Indian migrant with a heavy accent who works at a konbini. Thing is there's no cool, funny, strong, attractive, successful etc Indian dude on Western tv at least not on mainstream shows.

So yes, I understand that some ppl, Indian or not, may find it a bit 'unfortunate' that the only/most popular Indian character on tv reinforces old stereotypes about Indian ppl.

Still love the Simpsons though.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The character is 30 years old, times have changed. What once may have been seen as harmless fun, is now maybe, not so much.

That said, the show is full of stereotypes but not many kids in US schools are mocked because they have a character in The Simpsons who is as visible and memorable as Apu. It's probably time for the show to wind up, as it's glory days are long gone.

People in the UK used to think Love Thy Neighbour was amusing, too, lest we forget.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Goldorak: "Thing is there's no cool, funny, strong, attractive, successful etc Indian dude on Western tv at least not on mainstream shows."

Ever heard of the Big Bang Theory? Its a mainstream show on CBS. Rajesh Kuthrapaali is a PhD astrophysicist with an observatory. How successful do you want?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Rajesh Kuthrapaali is a PhD astrophysicist with an observatory. How successful do you want?

Successful but he always has to make demeaning comments about India and being a foreigner to get the laughs.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nobody has called Apu "offensive". Nobody has called for the Simpsons to be stopped, boycotted, or pulled off the air. Nobody has tried to influence anyone not to watch or enjoy the Simpsons. All that happened is an Indian guy who was affected by how the show portrays its main Indian character talked to other Indians about how the show affects them, and then published it as a documentary. It was a sincere, nuanced, and thoughtful discussion, and people flipped their lid about it even happening.

I would even go so far as to suspect that not a single person defending the show from the imaginary people they want to believe are attacking it even watch it anymore.

As I said, the politically correct and identity politics police are at it again.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I just find it ironic.

I mean there are seriously a billion Indians on this planet and this guy focuses on the one on a show where pretty much every single character and their grandpa is portrayed as a psychopath. Not enough positive portrayals? Out of a billion? Buddy needs to look a little harder.

For a funny guy Kondabolu sure has a lousy sense of “irony.”

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sigh. Growing up in Los Angeles, surrounded by just about every culture, I really miss the days where we could just laugh at each other without being called a racist.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The constant seeking out of offense has become psychotic in America, Canada and Western Europe. The main character is the biggest idiot by far but because he somehow represents white males it’s okay. When it comes to race, the West is twisted by self hatred to the point of sickness.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The constant seeking out of offense has become psychotic in America, Canada and Western Europe. The main character is the biggest idiot by far but because he somehow represents white males it’s okay. When it comes to race, the West is twisted by self hatred to the point of sickness.

It's definitely a blowback to decades and even centuries of white male insensitivity, bigotry, and dominance to minorities. The solution though, as many are freaking out about, is not to be insensitive, bigoted, or dominant against white males. That's just as wrong. The solution is a world where we treat all fairly, regardless of whether or not they are white and/or male.

There are two groups of people who are a problem in all of this:

1) The extremists who want to punish white men.

2) The extremist white men who are so afraid of losing control they argue back against any movement towards being fair to minorities.

Both groups are holding us back. Extremism is never the right answer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As a middle-aged husband, father, and white male, I am offended that Homer is portrayed as an idiotic overweight drunk who is a horrible husband and is physically abusive to his son.  If that is how Homer's character is portrayed, surely the writers are saying that every white male is exactly the same as Homer. 

Oh wait, I'm actually not offended.  I just remembered that the show is supposed to be a comedy.  It is supposed to be funny.  So I can laugh and enjoy the things I find comical and can brush off the things I don't.  If I am really offended by any of it, I can exercise my right to watch something else.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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