Oh dear me.
Oh deary, deary me.
So this morning, a New York Times article from last week came to my attention. In this article, well, it’s about what you’d expect really. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is a problem, because he’s such a stereotypical South Asian immigrant.
Sorry, wrong reference. I think this one’s still okay.
Now, obviously, this is another of those things that I probably don’t get much of a say in. If this is offensive to (some / many) South Asians, then that’s what it is and I won’t argue with that. I’m sorry you’re offended and I get it, I do. It’s hard to deny that the chirpy heavily-accented convenience store clerk thing has gone stale at best, never mind that it’s been around since the ’80s.
Yes, they could have done more with it. I haven’t actually watched the show in 15 years, just for context, although I do plan on watching them all on DVD when they finally appear one day. I’m just assuming they haven’t done anything to make Apu different or interesting or trope-busting since then. About the last Apu-centred episode I remember was the one about immigration, where he got his citizenship to avoid being deported because USians were blaming immigrants for bear attacks (that hadn’t in fact happened). It had absolutely no relevance to today’s USA, totally stale.
Yeah, they could do something with Apu. But then, he’s always been one of the more decent characters on the show, in terms of actual personality and values. He works hard and is a nice guy. Okay, I also seem to recall he and his arranged-marriage wife had octuplets and then he had an affair with the squishee lady … that’s all a bit on the nose. But arranged marriage is still a thing and I feel they handled it reasonably delicately. And his infidelity was sort of forgiven?
 I was mildly interested to see that apparently last year, there was an episode where this issue got lampshaded: Utkarsh Ambudkar (“Pitch Perfect”), who, as Apu’s Indian-American nephew on a 2016 episode of the series, blasted Apu to his animated face as a sellout and a stereotype. (from the article linked above) Now, maybe that’s not enough, and the creators of the show considered the matter settled when it really wasn’t. Maybe try harder?
But let’s keep it real. There’s hardly a non-stereotype in the entire show. I don’t hear the Scots whining about Groundskeeper Willie, the Germans whining about Üter, and the less said about the cops, the mayor, and all the rest … come on.
They only had Australians in it for one episode but I was deeply, deeply offended!
Maybe a lot of these are punching up rather than down? I don’t know. It’s getting really hard to tell when a joke or stereotype is punching up as opposed to just punching a group that doesn’t much care if it gets made fun of.
All I know is Kal Penn can piss off. After capitalising on his ancestry to play Kumar in that awful piece of schlock (okay, awful series of pieces of schlock), he doesn’t get to complain about Apu. The fact that he now seems to be blaming Apu for the whole underlying racism of the casting process and the enduring nature of South Asian stereotype characters … meh. Whatever. Who the Hell are you even.
 Well, alright, he does, because otherwise it would be hypocritical of me … but don’t expect me to care.
I’ve never been terribly amused by the Indian accent thing or the assorted Indian-stereotype stuff that went into the character. Most of Apu’s humour for me came from the lovely little scenes he had as purveyor of bad convenience store food, sugary treats, and occasional wisdom. Same as the Comic Book Guy, who ever since my teenage years I have felt personally attacked by. I know, I don’t get to say what other people are offended by. But at the same time, they don’t get to say what I should consider a problem. Still, it is yet another valuable reminder that times are changing, and that’s okay.
Simpsons creators, feel free to fix Apu and upset fewer people. But don’t do it on my account.