Hank Azaria steps down from voice-over for ‘Apu’ from ‘The Simpsons’ 

indica News Bureau-

Following the controversy over an Indian character of immigrant shopkeeper Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in the one of the most loved cartoon shows The Simpsons, actor Hank Azaria, who did the voice-over for the character, said he was stepping down from the role, on January 18. Indian-American comic Hari Kondabolu had remarked that the character was founded on racial stereotypes in 2017. 

Azaria has performed the voice of the Indian convenience store owner since the character was created in 1990. Kondabolu told the BBC that the character was problematic because he is defined by his job and how many children he has in his arranged marriage.

Kondabolu, in his documentary, ‘ The Problem with Apu’, he said that Apu was one of the only representations of South Asians on US television when he was growing up and other children imitated the character to mock him.

Throwing light on the decision to stop doing the voice over for Apu, Azaria said, ” All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something. We all made the decision together… We all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and good about it”, reported SlashFilm. 

Though Azaria said he will no longer dub the voice of Apu, it is not clear whether the character will be dropped from the cartoon show or the makers will hire a new artist for the voice-over.  At the time, Azaria also provides the voice of popular characters Moe Szyslak and Chief Wiggum, among others. 

Reacting to the news, Kondabolu said he hoped the makers kept the character in the show and the hoped writing staff would something with it to make it less stereotypical. 

He further tweeted, “My documentary ‘The Problem with Apu’ was not made to get rid of a dated cartoon character, but to discuss race, representation & my community (which I love very much). It was also about how you can love something (like the Simpsons) & still be critical about aspects of it (Apu),” 

The Simpsons also tried to address the controversy in an episode in 2018. In the scene, Marge changes a bedtime story to make it more politically correct, but her daughter objects. A distressed Marge then asks her daughter what she is supposed to do.

Lisa turns to the camera and says: “It’s hard to say. Something that started a long time ago, decades ago, that was applauded and was inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” She then signals to a photograph of Apu by her bedside, which is signed: “Don’t have a cow” -Apu.