Fans of The Simpsons are really not happy. The reason: the most recent episode of the Fox animation offered a reply to critics of the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. And it's simply “Don’t have a cow”.
This is in part a response to the documentary by Indian-American standup comic Hari Kondabolu, The Problem with Apu, which highlighted how the character – voiced by white actor Hank Azaria since 1990 – led to widespread stereotyping of south Asian people.
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A scene in episode No Good Read Goes Unpunished sees the show acknowledge the controversy, with Marge trying to read Lisa a book she loved when she was a girl, before realising it is filled with racist stereotypes. Marge then revises the story to include a “cisgender girl named Clara” fighting for wild horse rescue, which Lisa says has stripped the character of her emotional journey.
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Marge replies. Turning to the camera, Lisa then says: “It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
A photo of Apu, inscribed with the words “Don’t have a cow” is then shown on Lisa’s bedside table. The phrase is a favourite of Bart's, meaning don't get all upset about it.
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“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge promises.
“If at all,” Lisa adds.
Kondabolu himself soon criticised the “sad” scene, claiming it was simply a “jab” at progress.
Others have also pointed to the problem of Lisa, considered one of the show’s most progressive characters, delivering such dialogue…
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The majority of fans feel the show has let them down…