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25th Apr 2018

Apu’s voice actor says he wants to quit playing the character following racism controversy

Hank Azaria has been voicing Apu since 1990.

Wil Jones

Hank Azaria has been voicing Apu since 1990.

Last year, a documentary entitled The Problem With Apu sparked debate amongst Simpsons fans. In the film, comedian and second generation Indian-American Hari Kondabolu investigated the character, and what is was like  having a caricature voiced by a white person be the only representation he saw of himself on television growing up.

Earlier this month, The Simpsons appeared to respond to the criticism, and was widely criticised with how they dealt with it.

Lisa Simpson turned to the camera and said:

“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect… What can you do?”

Many thought that this was show and the writers refusing to engage with the issue.

In the documentary, Kondabolu attempts, but ultimately fails, to interview Apu’s voice actor Hank Azaria about playing the character. But now, in an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, Azaria has said that the documentary has made him reconsider Apu.

“My eyes have been opened. And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people, in this country when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character.”

He went on to say he thinks he should stop voicing Apu.

“I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what The Simpsons does… It not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”

It remains to see if that will happen.