For over 20 years, Apu on The Simpsons wasn’t a controversy and to a large degree still isn’t. However “comedian” Hari Kondabolu has made a very conscious effort to pressure The Simpsons into rewriting on of the most prominent minor characters to be politically correct.
The Simpsons producer Adi Shankar spoke to IndieWire about his attempts to crowdsource a script that tackled the ‘Apu Problem’, which has now been rejected as the character is to be dropped from the show.
“I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” he said. “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 show was further criticised in April over the episode ‘No Good Read Goes Unpunished’, where the issue of Apu’s depiction was tackled head on as Marge and Lisa discussed the portrayal of the character.
Lisa Simpson is heard to say “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
The show now plans to side-step the controversy with Apu by ensuring he quietly vanishes from Springfield.
But whether Hari Kondabolu’s legacy will be realized has yet to be verified by Fox or Disney who is in the process of acquiring 20th Century Fox. As noted in the NME article, the show has already addressed the controversy indicating that the show will maintain it’s course. Could it be that The Simpsons is caving into the widely unpopular pressure of Hari Kondabolu or is this just a leak to the press to generate publicity for the show. The showrunners should be warned against writing off Apu, especially in such a cowardly way.
By getting rid of Apu, The Simpsons would be bending over to the politically correct crowd. This is a betrayal to that which satire stands for, something Kondabolu who fancies himself a comedian doesn’t get. Simpson fans have rallied behind Apu in droves on social media with hashtags like #JusticeForApu and ratioing Hari Kondabolu’s account. The Simpsons would further be elevating Indians to that of a sacred cow, no pun intended. Almost every character on the show is a stereotype. Yet Italians don’t complain about Fat Joe and the numerous others. Scots haven’t complained about Grounds Keeper Willie. Do Mexicans complain about the Bee guy or stoners about Otto Mann? Other Asian cultures are made fun of. The Simpsons was and equal opportunity offender. This willingness to step back and make fun of anything and everything is what made the show a multigenerational classic.
Furthermore, if you give these PC piggies a pancake, they are gonna want some maple syrup. By giving in to Kondabolu, The Simpsons will be setting a precedent that they will back down to pressure by the Social Justice Warriors. They will not stop at just Apu. But the precedent will not be limited to our favorite yellow family. If The Simpsons cave, whom else is safe? South Park? Archer? Rick and Morty? I’ve read many articles about the death of comedy. Comedian Josh Denny writes an accurate account of what comedy is becoming.
Many new comedians refuse to take risks for laughs, choosing instead to pander to their audience’s perceived political leanings in an attempt to string together enough applause breaks to feel their opinions validated; to score points in an economy where any applause is now greater than laughter. When did that end, by the way? When did laughter stop being the metric by which comedy is judged?
Comedy is about being funny. Apu has been apart of the laughter of multiple generations. He is a static and flawed character with depths of complexity that can be utilized in a main story arc or a minor background detail for laughs. Taking away Apu would take away one of the most prominent minor characters on the show. It would be as significant as taking away Moe or Chief Wiggum, all three voiced by Hank Azaria. And such a move would not be rewarded by fans.