Following strong criticism in a recent documentary it looks like there may be major changes coming to long-term Simpsons character Apu.
Recently Asian comedian Hari Kondabolu released a TV documentary titled The Problem With Apu which looked at one of Springfield’s titular residents and the negative stereotypes he represents – albeit done with no malice.
However it’s often actions with no intention to harm which can end up being the most detrimental.
One of the big criticisms of the animated owner of the Kwik-E-Mart store is his character is voiced by a white man. Hank Azaria, has been on The Simpsons' main voice cast since 1989, as well as voicing Apu Nahasapeemapetilon he does voices for Comic Book Guy, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and Carl Carlson (who we should point out is an African American character).
Since the fall out of Kondabolu's documentary which explores the negative representation and stereotypes of Apu and the Asian community, The Simpsons' top brass are seriously reconsidering making big changes to the character, it's quite possible we may even see him written out of the show.
Azaria himself confirmed on TMZ that he and the staff are taking all criticisms presented in The Problem With Apu with the utmost importance.
Speaking outside of LAX airport in Los Angeles the actor and comedian says:
I think the documentary makes some really interesting points and it gave us a lot at The Simpsons to think about, and we really are thinking about it.
... definitely anybody that was hurt or offended by it - or an character or vocal performance - it's really upsetting that that was offensive or hurtful to anybody.
... I think it's an important conversation definitely worth having.
When asked if he and the writers will be making any major changes to Apu, Azaria said they were 'still thinking about it' as the blacklash has been 'a lot to digest'.
So what does this mean for the show and future of one of Springfield's most beloved characters? One possibility could be Azaria and the creative staff will have to change the way Apu's voice sounds to make him sound more western/American.
Another route the show could go down is casting an Asian voice actor to takeover the iconic convenience store owner, we could even see the writing staff totally retcon his background and mannerisms to bring him in line with today's audience which is more socially aware and motivated.
Another fate Apu Nahasapeemapetilon could be facing is his character being written out of the show or leaving Springfield for good...