For awhile now their has been quite the controversy surrounding a popular T.V show known as The Simpsons. The Simpsons were initially created by Matt Groening to be a series of shorts on on The Tracey Ullman Show on Fox on April 19, 1987. After it was developed into a television show it became the first Fox series to land in the Top 30 ratings in a season. Its a billion-dollar merchandising and media franchise, not to mention still just as popular today.
However, some might not agree with those who still love this amazing show. Lately their has been a lot of controversy over one of the characters know simply as Apu. Dana Walden and Gary Newman, bosses for the Fox Television group, have had their say over the controversy surrounding The Simpsons and the character Apu during the Fox's Television Critics Association summer press tour presentation.
Walden stated, "We have had conversations with executive producer Jim Brooks and his team, and we've left it to them. They've treated the show and their characters with so much respect, we trust them to handle it in a way that will be best for their show....I'm not sure yet what they're going to do, but we thought that should be their decision."
In 2017 it was Hari Kondabolu's concerns that raised issues with Apu and last season The Simpsons chose to directly address those concerns. Hari created a documentary titled The Problem With Apu and it spoke about the cultural impact of the Indian character how portraying him in the manner they did inadvertently shaped and perpetuated racial stereotypes. It contained many interviews with celebrities of South Asian descent. They claimed to have grown up being bullied and ridiculed on the basis of the way the character Apu was portrayed.
If you happen to watch or have already seen the episode "No Good Read Goes Unpunished," The Simpsons told all viewers who felt uncomfortable with how Apu was not to overreact. The show has and always will trade in caricatures and stereotypes (from Bumblebee Man to Groundskeeper Willie). You can imagine how social media basically blew up after that. Some fans expressed their extreme disappointment while others agreed with the shows take. This prompted the creator Matt Groening and show runner Al Jean to weigh in. Matt went to Twitter and Tweeted, "I think it's a time in our culture where people love to pretend they're offended," While Jean added, "I truly appreciate all responses pro and con. Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular and more important right."
Walden went on to say, "In a day of social media where fans are able to have a very public forum, I can't say I was surprised by the backlash. I thought it was good information for the creators to receive and I know they focused on what the reaction was and I'm sure that's partially informing how they will move forward."
On an episode of The Late Show, the man who does the voice for Apu, Hank Azaria took the criticism on board. He said, "The most important thing is that 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 has been. In television terms, listening to voices means inclusion in the writers room. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room. Not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take, including how it is voiced or not voices."
The Simpsons Season 30 premieres Sunday, September 30th on Fox. What are your opinions on this controversy? Do you think they are just overreacting? Let me know!