Hank Azaria is willing to step back from Apu on The Simpsons


Hank Azaria recently spoke with Stephen Colbert about the Apu controversy and said he’d be willing to step back from the controversial ‘Simpsons’ character.

Hank Azaria has finally addressed the Apu controversy. He also said he’s willing to step away from the contentious Simpsons character.

There’s always been criticism over Apu on The Simpsons. But the backlash has really grown over the last few months. Comedian Hari Kondabolu created a documentary called The Problem with Apu, which discussed the racist stereotypes Apu represents. It also touched on how the character affects Indians and South Asians as well as the representation of South Asians in general.

In the past, Azaria, who is white, had addressed the criticism of Apu and the fact that the stereotypical character had led to bullying. However, he refused to talk with Kandabolu for The Problem with Apu and continued to voice the character.

Azari has said though that it was upsetting that anyone was teased or marginalized because of the character after the Simpons movie came out.

The Simpsons then addressed the controversy earlier this month in the episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” Marge and Lisa talk about changing an old book to make it less offensive. Lisa says, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” She and Marge said that it might never be addressed. There was also a picture of Apu saying, “Don’t have a cow!”

Many fans slammed The Simpsons’ response, saying that the show missed the point. It made light of something many find hurtful and offensive. The show, essentially, said Apu was maybe a problem but not offensive enough to say get rid of entirely. Thus, the show refused to acknowledge that Apu was problematic. Plus, it was so wrong to have Lisa, the liberal character on the show, deliver the line.

At first, Simpsons showrunner Al Jean joked there was going to be a Twitter explosion over the episode. He then tried to defend it. Ultimately, Jean said  the show would “try to find an answer that is popular & more important right.”

Now the voice behind the character his finally weighing in on the controversy. Azaria went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote Season 2 of Brockmire, and Apu inevitably came up. He told Colbert that he had nothing to do with “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” However, Azaria also said that he’s learned a lot and realized that things do need to change. In fact, he even said he’s willing to step away from the character. He felt “sad” that anyone was bullied or hurt over Apu.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought -– really a lot of thought –- and, as I say, my eyes have been opened,” he said. “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, and what their American experience of it has been.”

Azaria went on to name some changes they could make, including more inclusion in the writers’ room. Having diverse voices, and having Indian and South Asian writers represented and working on the show would create a better, balanced, more well-informed show.

Then he addressed his own involvement with Apu. Azarie noted he was “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.”

People are applauding Azaria for actually listening and taking in the fact that Apu has caused them pain, and for being willing to step aside in order to make this right.

“Thank you, @HankAzaria,” Kondabolu said on Twitter. “I appreciate what you said & how you said it.”

Next: Simpsons episode addressing Apu stereotypes completely misses the point

After fighting for this for so long, people are finally getting the recognition that Apu has had some serious problems. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if these changes Azaria suggested actually happen. We’re waiting, Simpsons.