Apu To Be Cut From 'The Simpsons' Following Controversy About Racial Stereotypes
Reports the character is going to be be written out of the hit cartoon -- following a documentary that criticised Apu's portrayal of Indians -- has been welcomed by an Australian Indian community leader.
Update: 'The Simpsons' Executive Producer Al Jean has asserted that Adi Shankar is "not a producer on the Simpsons", alluding to the fact that Apu has not yet been cut from the show.
Producer Adi Shankar told IndieWire that he has confirmed the news with “multiple sources” at Fox and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon will be quietly dropped from the series.
The character of Apu was discussed in comedian Hari Kondabolu's documentary -- The Problem With Apu -- in 2017. The film explored how the character was a harmful, stereotypical portrayal of Indian and South Asian people in the United States.
Earlier this year, The Simpsons addressed the growing criticism about Apu -- in a scene where characters Marge and Lisa decry political correctness.
The episode was widely panned for deliberately dismissing audience concerns about Indian representation on TV and the negative effect Apu has had on South Asian communities.
Kondabolu -- who has always been a fan of the show -- wrote on Twitter that the scene was "sad".
Kondabolu added on Twitter that his film was "an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalised groups and why this is important"
"The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress."
Producer Shankar told IndieWire that his initial plan to solve the 'Apu problem' was to run a contest to find the "perfect script" to tackle the issue head-on.
However, Shankar said that Fox will instead quietly let go of the character who has appeared in the last thirty seasons of the show.
“I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” Shankar told IndieWire.
“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.”
The ripple effects of Apu in Australia
Dr Yadu Singh remembers when Apu first hit TV screens in the '90s -- and the direct effect the stereotypical character had on him.
Dr Singh -- who is a cardiologist and Indian community leader-- told tendaily that colleagues would speak like Apu, in an exaggerated accent in front of him.
"I work in a hospital as a doctor and sometimes people would begin mocking my accent," he said.
"Even the seniors, they would suddenly turn into Apu," Dr Singh added. "I would say, 'Why are you doing this?'.
"When you’re talking in perfect English and then someone starts talking like Apu, that’s a put-down."
Dr Singh said he'd love to see more Indian representation on TV, but that "it's good Apu is gone".
"It can’t just be the storekeeper with the funny accent any more," he added.
Dr James Arvanitakis is a professor in cultural and social analysis at Western Sydney University and the Chair of Diversity Arts Australia.
Dr Arvanitakis told tendaily that he always saw Apu "in the context of the show".
"And the show is full of stereotypes," he added.
"I think The Simpsons puts a mirror up to society and is often poking fun of our attitudes," he said.
However, Dr Arvanitakis said that "killing off Apu is a totally lost opportunity".
"Given the climate right now in western democracies about multiculturalism, this was a really really great chance for Fox and The Simpsons to participate in their own unique, sharped witted way."
Fans of the show have also expressed their frustration with the latest news -- saying getting rid of Apu will not solve the problem.
Documentary maker Kondabolu has agreed with fan-- writing that killing off Apu was not the solution he was aiming for.
Fox is yet to officially confirm the news.
Main Image: Getty Images.