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Hank Azaria Offers to Stop Voicing Apu on ‘The Simpsons’

Criticism of the character as a stereotype of India on the long-running show has been growing.

Actor Hank Azaria offered in an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to stop voicing the role of Apu on The Simpsons after reviewing the growing criticism of the character as a stereotype of India.

“I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new,” said Azaria, who has won four Emmy Awards for voicing the character on the long-running animated comedy series. “The idea that anyone, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad. … It was certainly not my intention. I wanted to spread laughter and joy.”

Criticism of the character grew after the release last fall of the documentary The Problem with Apu, produced by comedian Hari Kondabolu. The documentary features multiple interviews with people of Indian or South Asian descent who say they were bullied or mocked by others who cited the thick-accented convenience store owner. For many years, Apu was one of, if not the only, character of Indian ethnicity seen on American television.

After the interview, Kondabolu posted on his Twitter feed: “Thank you, @HankAzaria. I appreciate what you said & how you said it.”

Source: The New York Times

Thomas J. McLean's picture

Tom McLean has been writing for years about animation from a secret base in Los Angeles.