‘The Simpsons’ show runner still won’t apologize for Apu
The Simpsons‘ show runner Al Jean responded to backlash to Sunday’s episode, in which characters implied that criticism of Apu (Hank Azaria) as a racial stereotype was overblown.
Jean teased the response he expected to Sunday’s episode, entitled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” tweeting that evening “New Simpsons in five minutes. Twitter explosion in act three.”
As of Friday, after many takes and exhausting debates and interpretations of Apu, Jean weighed back in on Twitter.
In the week that followed “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” Jean retweeted several articles standing by The Simpsons and Apu as a character, as well as multiple South Asian Twitter users expressing that they were never offended by the character. It reads as somewhat passive aggressive (including replies about Azaria’s 20-year-old Emmy and comments about free speech).
Jean notes, in several responses and retweets, that The Simpsons has portrayed Apu positively and with nuance in the past, not realizing that this is exactly why audiences were frustrated with the most recent episode. Controversy over Apu (top-of-mind due to a 2017 documentary) came from the character’s origins and history. When The Simpsons began, Apu became a catchall for South Asians and South Asian Americans, many of whom were stereotyped or teased and associated with the character. Instead of acknowledging that, The Simpsons team appears to be stubbornly looking in the other direction.
Ironically, Jean himself retweeted a pretty accurate assessment – but still refuses to apologize himself.
Do you know how easy it is to put this to bed? Really. Just saying, “Hey, we understand that this was hurtful now. It’s not what we wanted, but that’s what it is. We apologize, and are going to learn to create something less hurtful to many of our fans.” This is the wrong battle
— Ironic Moniker (@IronicMoniker1) April 13, 2018
In the episode, Marge discovers an old favorite storybook of Lisa’s which turns out to be full of offensive characters. She modifies it, but then Lisa doesn’t enjoy the story and her mother doesn’t know what to do.
“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” We see, on her bedside table (inexplicably), a framed photo of Apu.
“Some things will be dealt with a later date,” Marge says.
“If at all,” Lisa concludes, and then they both look into the camera.
If this is dealing with it, we’d rather not.