Rumors have been swirling around the departure of the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from the cast of the long-running show The Simpsons. It seems there is plenty of confusion, and at the center is the creator of the documentary The Problem with Apu, writer and comic Hari Kondabolu,
The rumors began when YouTuber and producer Adi Shankar said he found the perfect script to solve the racial stereotyping of the Apu character but, when he presented the script, he was told they were getting rid of the character.
Shankar told IndieWire:
“I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether. 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.
“If you are a show about cultural commentary and you are too afraid to comment on the culture, especially when it’s a component of the culture you had a hand in creating, then you are a show about cowardice. It’s not a step forward, or step backwards, it’s just a massive step sideways. After having read all these wonderful scripts, I feel like sidestepping this issue doesn’t solve it when the whole purpose of art, I would argue, is to bring us together.”
After this news came out, people began tweeting Kondabolu and blaming him for the demise of the character.
Kondabolu took to Twiiter, in the way comics do.
RIP Apu. RIP My Mentions
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) October 27, 2018
There was a lot of anger misdirected at Kondabolu.
If a comedian gets offended by a stereotype, for me, that's the worst comedian ever.
— Internet presenta: Dan. (@DanGamboaB) October 27, 2018
I’d go to this dude’s show just so I could heckle him for ruining Simpson’s.
— Kyle Wagoner (@KyleWagz) October 27, 2018
— Jamie McDonald (@ELBartoTRKS) October 27, 2018
“Failed comedian's biggest achievement is getting character removed from animated TV show after 28 years”
— Willian Doberby (@WDoberby) October 28, 2018
Many people understood the nuance of Kondabolu’s documentary.
Wow. The fragility & desire to uphold racism is very real. So sorry Hari, that you have to experience this kind of online trolling for expressing a thoughtful perspective on why nuanced representation is needed. @TheSimpsons has had the most pathetic response to valid criticism.
— Npaul (@npaulks) October 27, 2018
You’re mentions are a mess and I’m so sorry, One minority to another.
It’s like somehow a whole generation of Simpsons fans were trained to uncritically believe Indian men should only be deferential, supportive, and endlessly patient with racism from “lovable” white people
— Crystal Frasier (@AmazonChique) October 27, 2018
I only wish @TheSimpsons had used #Apu to draw attention to Indian issues, like how not all Indians are Hindu, the oppression of the Dalit-Bahujan and their fight for rights in India, and even your dilemma, how so many Indian-Americans don't get credit for assimilation.
— TheLogicJunkie™ (@TheLogicJunkie) October 27, 2018
I liked your documentary. To be honest i hadn't thought much about apu in a crital way before that. Anyway, keep it up.
— Stefan (@Rendbergh) October 28, 2018
Now, however, the showrunner for The Simpsons, Al Jean, has come forward to say there are no plans to cut the character of Apu.
“Adi Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons. I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show.”
Adi Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons. I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show.
— Al Jean (@AlJean) October 28, 2018
I wish you well too. Let’s work towards common ground. Ignoring only fans the flames. The world is polarized & getting more so, and the onus is on us to bring people together. Engage in a constructive way and this matter will go to bed. I see you, now I’m asking you to see me.
— Adi Shankar (@adishankarbrand) October 29, 2018
Then the hate flipped from Kondabolu to Shankar.
Im mortally offended that grounds keeper willie is portraying a Scottish stereotype!! I am offended! He should be changed or written out.. . Or I could understand that the show is all stereotypes and just enjoy the humour!
— Robert Black (@rblackjnr) October 29, 2018
My god. Can you be more narcissistic? There's a million stereotypes in the Simpsons including Homer as your dopey incompetent lower-middle class white dad. You're also responsible for the current polarization with tweets like these. You're not to be taken seriously.
— Brendan (@NintendoCereal) October 29, 2018
How about you mind your own damn business and let the actual creators of the show do their thing. The Simpsons has been on the air for 30 years, if you don't get the joke then move on to something else.
— Joe (@burnslow13) October 29, 2018
And then, to double down on the racism, there was this.
Shut up Apu.
— Wahl Factor (@wahl_factor) October 29, 2018
Here’s the official trailer for The Problem With Apu.
And we come full circle. Do we see the problem now?