Actor Hank Azaria, who’d been voicing Apu on the Simpsons for at least 3 decades, has been making himself look ludicrous of recent as he keeps tripping over himself apologizing for one of his most famous roles in animation, according to the Hollywood Reporter (via the Daily Wire):
Hank Azaria was a recent guest on the Armchair Expert podcast, where he discussed several topics, including the lessons he learned from playing the controversial Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons.
The long-running Indian character on the iconic Fox cartoon came under fire in recent years (including in 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu) due to the character’s racially stereotypical behavior, compounded by the fact that he was voiced by a Caucasian actor. […]
“I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input,” Azaria said. “A 17-year-old … he’s never even seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means. It’s practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country.”
The boy, “with tears in his eyes,” Azaria said, asked the actor to tell Hollywood writers what they do matters and has ramifications on people’s lives. Azaria said he would deliver the message.
“I really do apologize,” Azaria said. “It’s important. I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do.”
I think this is still another of blaming the wrong crowd. If anybody really did act offensively in reaction to Apu’s characterization, it’s the fault of the racial mockers, not Azaria. Not to mention that, if this meeting did take place, he did not show the courage to defend the characterization as part of the concept of comedy, and it’s telling that the kid spoken of never even viewed the series. John Cleese already mocked Azaria for his weak-kneed approach, which hasn’t put an end to any of his troubles.
Not wishing to be left behind by Hank Azaria, I would like to apologise on behalf on Monty Python for all the many sketches we did making fun of white English people
We’re sorry for any distress we may have caused
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) April 13, 2021
And above all, it would seem Azaria ignored that there’s Indian-Americans who don’t, and never found Apu offensive, such as National Review’s Pradheep Shanker:
Azaria has been attacked for his participation in this supposed atrocity as well. He initially politely appeared on Kondabolu’s documentary, but was largely blindsided by the complaints. He then was criticized for not providing satisfactory responses to claims of racism and bigotry. Again, as expected, rather than continuing to fight the thankless war against the woke mob, Azaria simply raised the white flag of surrender. In 2018, he decided to permanently stop voicing the character.
Unsurprisingly, that didn’t end the saga for Azaria. Charges of racism have dogged him ever since. Hence his self-flagellation on the Armchair Expert podcast. Apparently, the ridiculousness never ends.
But it should. For one thing, does Azaria really think most Indians give this even the most fleeting, passing thought? The Simpsons is not widely viewed, or even available, in India. There was a short period during the 1990s when the show gained some notoriety there, but mostly because people fell in love with the character of Apu.
1.4 billion Indians don’t really care. The few here in the U.S. who do care have, for the most part, misdiagnosed a problem, and blamed, in an incredible and mind-boggling twist of logic . . . a cartoon character.
Ask most kids in high school today about Apu, and you’ll find not only that few have ever watched The Simpsons, but also that few even have a clue who Apu is. The chances that bigots at Azaria’s son’s school are using this character as their primary weapon against Indian-American students are very low.
I explored this several years ago, in an informal setting with numerous Indian-American students. I asked what Hollywood character was most used to “insult” their ancestry; the answer was not Apu from The Simpsons. It was Raj, the heavily accented immigrant Indian on The Big Bang Theory. With the end of that show, even that reference is now dated. I have asked various students this question over the years, and I have received very similar responses. Other names that are commonly brought up include Baljeet, an Indian animated character on the Disney show Phineas and Ferb, and Dopinder, the heavily accented taxi driver in the Deadpool films. Apu is almost never brought up as the weapon of choice from the prejudiced attackers.
Anyone see a pattern?
Bigots care not about what weapon they use to hurt the targets of their attack. They will use anything that is convenient. The characters, therefore, are not the problem; the bigots are. In the days long forgotten, it was the term ‘dotheads’ (referring to the red dots that we Hindus sometimes adorn on our foreheads) that was most commonly used.
Additionally, does anyone think the color of the voice actor matters? Azaria has repeatedly claimed that only people of color should voice such characters, but the examples above were voiced by South-Asian actors, and the targeting still occurred. The only other solution is . . . to never show Indian characters at all, correct?
That’s exactly the misfortune the PC crowd is leading to. Not that they could care, since the irony is just so massively appealing to them. The whole topic is symbolic of the sorry case of political correctness the USA has long suffered from, which has really scraped bottom this past decade.
Originally published here