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The discussion about Apu in The Simpsons isn’t going away yet, with the character’s long-time voice actor revealing that he would be happy to see the character transition, or have his version of the character retired entirely.
In a chat with Stephen Colbert on the Late Show, Azaria said that his “eyes have been opened” following the discourse over the Simpsons character. Debate kicked up late last year following the release of The Problem With Apu, a documentary by comic Hari Kondabolu about Apu’s stereotypical nature and the impact that has for other Indian-Americans, particularly given their lack of notable roles on screen.
The Simpsons referenced the documentary earlier this month, with Lisa asking Marge about something being found as politically incorrect decades after it began. “Some things will be addressed at a later date,” Marge replied, to which Lisa said “if at all”.
Azaria’s explanation to Colbert, however, indicated that there might be a push to at least include more Indian and South Asian voices in the writers’ room. “My eyes have been opened, and the most important thing is that we have to listen to Indian people, South Asian people in this country, when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, and what their American experience has been.”
The voice actor added that he nothing to do with the Simpsons episode that referenced Kondabolu’s documentary. But he also disagreed with people that believed the episode in question wasn’t dismissing their concerns.
“I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers’ room, not in a token way but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take,” Azaria went on. “Including how it is voiced, or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition into something new. I really hope that’s what the Simpsons does. It not only makes sense, it feels like the right thing to do.”
Kondabolu responded to Azaria’s appearance on Twitter, briefly saying he appreciated the sentiment:
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 25, 2018