The Problem with Apu – Wikipedia

2017 film
The Problem with Apu is a 2017 documentary film written by and starring comedian Hari Kondabolu and produced and directed by Michael Melamedoff. It focuses on the quality Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an indian immigrant in the animate situation comedy The Simpsons who, for a time period, was the lone figure of indian inheritance to appear regularly on mainstream U.S. television receiver. The movie explores encounters with minus stereotypes, minstrelsy, racial microaggressions, and slurs against people of indian and confederacy asian inheritance .

background [edit ]

documentary writer Hari Kondabolu Kondabolu grew up watching The Simpsons and cites it as a major influence on his drollery and cultural grok. initially, he liked the character Apu because the character was the only representation of his family ‘s culture regularly aired on television in the United States. Kondabolu told the BBC, “ Apu was the only indian we had on television receiver at all so I was felicitous for any representation as a pull the leg of. ” As he grew older, Kondabolu became more critical of Apu, saying, “ he ‘s funny story, but that doesn ’ thymine bastardly this representation is accurate or right or righteous. It gets to the insidiousness of racism, though, because you don ’ triiodothyronine even notice it when it ’ sulfur right in front of you. ” [ 2 ]

The Simpsons Hank Azaria, voice of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and several other characters on According to Kondabolu, his mother taught him that “ you can criticize something you love because you expect more from it. ” [ 3 ] His foremost public review of The Simpsons character came at the imperativeness of W. Kamau Bell during the first season of his FX television display Totally Biased. [ 4 ] In 2012 Kondabolu worked as a writer on the display, and Bell heard him railing against Apu for fomenting racial stereotypes about Indians. Bell then told Kondabolu that if he did not write it into a base up drollery act and perform it on the picture, Bell would fire him. [ 5 ] In his bite, Kondabolu criticizes voice actor Hank Azaria ( who is of Sephardic Jewish descent ), calling him “ a white guy doing an depression of a white guy making fun of my father. ” Kondabolu went on to cite other portrayals of South Asians in mainstream television receiver and film—such as a valet eating imp brains in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and an actor petting a thrust mongoose in a metroPCS commercial—as racist. [ 6 ] Kondabolu finally decided to expand the one-minute segment about Apu into an hour-long objective. [ 7 ] In a 2015 interview Azaria acknowledged the character ‘s shock as cannon fodder for widespread racially motivated bullying that targets children with South asian inheritance. [ 8 ] Kondabolu reached out to Azaria to be interviewed for the film, but Azaria declined for fear that his words would be manipulated by the film ‘s editing summons. He agreed to have a discussion facilitated either by Terry Gross on the public radio program Fresh Air or on Marc Maron ‘s podcast WTF but according to Kondabolu, Azaria rescinded the offer once it was accepted. [ 9 ]

Themes [edit ]

In the movie Kondabolu speaks with early South Asian-American entertainers about the impact of Apu on their lives. Actors Aziz Ansari, Kal Penn, Maulik Pancholy, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Samrat Chakrabarti, Sakina Jaffrey, Aasif Mandvi, and Hasan Minhaj [ 1 ] [ 7 ] [ 10 ] refer childhood anecdotes of being called “ Apu ” by early children or having the character ‘s catchphrases from the show said to them by strangers because of their perceive inheritance. [ 2 ] They besides relate stories of becoming train professional actors and being asked to deliver lines in the style and stress of Apu. [ 7 ] Kondabolu compares this case of Azaria portraying a caricature of an indian shopkeeper to blackface and interviews african-american actress Whoopi Goldberg, who is a longtime collector of racist ephemeron from the 20th and 21st centuries. Goldberg agrees with the interpretation of Apu as a human body of brownface. [ 11 ] Kondabolu traces the origins of The Simpsons character to a bequest of brownface performance by actors such as Peter Sellers in The Party. In parts of the documentary, Kondabolu expresses his taste for The Simpsons as a insurgent and culturally astute institution on the landscape of mainstream North american media. [ 12 ] additionally, he draws out a stove of opinions from his peers ; for exemplify, while Kondabolu said that despite Apu he placid loved The Simpsons, Kal Penn said the character ruined the usher for him. [ 7 ] Kondabolu said, “ I made this film to not alone talk about the origin of Apu and highlight the impact of such images in media, but besides to celebrate the diversity and complexity of my community. ” [ 3 ]

production and release [edit ]

Filming for The Problem with Apu began in April 2016. [ 7 ] The film was given special screenings featuring live appearances and talkback with Hari Kondabolu in the fall of 2017, preceding its release on the truTV net on November 19. [ 10 ] 250,000 people watched the initial publicize on its first-run. [ 13 ] Kondabolu appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to promote the film. He argued that the Apu fictional character had a serious and insidious effect, and that the use of wit in the portrayal is an disingenuous way of making racism more appeal ; this would hypothetically be relieved by the presentation of a image of brown characters. [ 14 ]

reception [edit ]

The documentary received largely positive reviews from critics, with review collector Rotten Tomatoes ranking the film at 90 % out of 20 reviews, with an median critical score of 8.3/10, [ 15 ] and Metacritic assigning a score of 77/100, based on four reviews. [ 16 ]

Daniel Fienberg, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, praised the documentary for providing “ its thesis against the character ‘s acceptability … with such clearness, it ‘s hard to imagine it generating an adversarial reaction more cogent than that grey classical ‘It ‘s a joke, stop taking it then seriously, ‘ which is no response at all. ” however, Fienberg criticized it as being “ half a documentary ”, saying “ it becomes disingenuous when Kondabolu declares, ‘I realize some of you think I ‘m some annoy personal computer social-justice warrior ‘ and then calculatedly skips those voices, and disappointing when Kondabolu and friends wonder what can be done about Apu immediately and there ‘s cipher around to make it into a veridical conversation. ” [ 17 ] Scott Pierce of The Salt Lake Tribune found the documentary “ challenging and entertain ”, and concluded that “ Kondabolu raises some trouble questions. I ’ ll never be able to watch The Simpsons without thinking about this again. ” [ 18 ] Meenasarani Linde Murugan, writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, contrasted the objective ‘s liberal advocacy with the opinion of media diverseness promulgated by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai : “ In celebrating how far we have come, we should not alone remember how brownface and brown voice prevail on contemporary television receiver, but besides call out those populace South asian figures who would use this lapp history of ridicule to leverage a vision of the future wholly run by corporations that would far racial and economic unfairness. ” [ 19 ] Justin Charity, writing for The Ringer, agreed with the film ‘s argument, but found the pursuit of Azaria to appear in the film “ a prevail distraction from more ambitious retainer of the ideal future of The Simpsons and the cultural shifts that have rendered Apu increasingly unpalatable. ” He besides found the objective lacked imagination in finding a solution to creating a more nuanced portrayal of Apu : “ that lapse of Kondabolu ’ south imagination is the documentary ’ mho real barren. ” [ 20 ] Neal Justin of Minneapolis Star Tribune noted “ any criticism directed at the show ’ s portrayal of the convenience-store owner in his documentary … is drowned out by frustration that he can ’ metric ton land an interview with the character ‘s voice actor. ” [ 21 ] In October 2018, in the South Park episode “ The Problem with a Poo “, Mr. Hankey is expelled and sent to a land where “ people do n’t care about bigotry and hate ” – Springfield – where he is welcomed by Apu. The episode ended with a title circuit board, #cancelthesimpsons, like to the promo for South Park which called for the cancellation of itself, leading many to assume that the episode was South Park siding with the objective. [ 22 ] however, on the DVD comment, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone stated that the people on The Simpsons are their friends, and that the episode was not a jab at The Simpsons but at the documentary and the criticism of Apu, and that they found it amusing how many misinterpreted the jest as an attack on The Simpsons. In summation, a writer for The Simpsons, Al Jean, tweeted about the episode : “ It ‘s actually in party favor of us saying people are besides critical. ” [ 24 ]

Simpsons response [edit ]

The Simpsons sequence “ no good Read Goes Unpunished “, first aired on April 8, 2018, was widely received as a reception to Kondabolu ‘s film. [ 25 ] [ 26 ] [ 27 ] [ 28 ] [ 29 ] In it, Marge finds that a book she loved as a child contains elements that would nowadays be considered offensive, and edits the book herself to remove these elements. In doing this, however, she finds the book loses its “ aroused journey ”. She and Lisa then look to a mental picture of Apu, and Lisa comments that “ something that started decades ago and was applauded and euphemistic, is now politically faulty. What can you do ? ” Kondabolu wrote on Twitter that he was disappointed that the message of his film had been reduced to the concept of “ politically incorrect ”. [ 30 ] In an interview with USA Today, creator Matt Groening dismissed the criticism of the Apu quality, saying “ I think it ‘s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they ‘re offended ”. [ 31 ] During an appearance that lapp calendar month on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Azaria said that he would be “ absolutely willing to step aside ” from the function of voicing Apu, saying that he was increasingly worried about the character causing damage by reinforcing stereotypes and that “ the most authoritative thing is to listen to indian people and their feel with it … I in truth want to see indian, South asian writers in the writers ‘ board, truly informing whichever direction this quality takes. ” [ 32 ] Kondabolu had a positive reaction to Azaria ‘s comments. [ 33 ] Azaria announced in January 2020 that he “ wo n’t be doing the part anymore, unless there ’ s some room to transition it or something. ” [ 34 ] In June 2020, in reaction to the George Floyd protests, the testify ‘s producers announced in a statement that The Simpsons will no farseeing have colored characters voiced by white actors. [ 35 ] [ 36 ] In the April 12, 2021, sequence of Dax Shepard ‘s podcast Armchair Expert, Azaria apologized for “ racism, my engagement in racism, or at least in a racist exercise or in structural racism, as it relates to show clientele or … all the above. ” One reaction to Azaria ‘s apology came from actress and writer Mellini Kantayya, who in a Washington Post public opinion assemble wrote about Azaria ‘s concession :

… and for him to say indeed not in a cautiously crafted PR statement, but in a conversation long after the news program bicycle had moved on, caught me off guard. Azaria reached his conclusions after years of learn and reflection. He recognized how his employment had hurt indian Americans and wanted to start making amends. That ‘s why I cried. His apology was cold comfort, given my past, but the validation and recognition still mattered. [ 37 ] [ 38 ]

References [edit ]

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