'The Simpsons' Apu is practically a slur at this point': Hank Azaria says he feels 'apologetic' for character's racist portrayal
'I apologise for my part in creating and participating in that,' Hank Azaria says about endorsing racial stereotypes through the role.
American actor Hank Azaria was a recent guest on the Armchair Expert weekly podcast, where he spoke on several topics. One of the highlights of his conversations included the lessons he learned from playing the role Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on the popular sitcom The Simpsons.
Azaria says his character Apu is “practically a slur,” and he feels apologetic for endorsing racial stereotypes through the role. It was not the first time where the iconic Fox cartoon came under fire due to the character's racially stereotypical behaviour which has been compounded by the fact that he was voiced by a Caucasian actor.
On Monday’s episode of the podcast, Azaria opened up about his interaction with a 17-year-old Indian, who hadn’t ever watched the show but understood what Apu stood for.
“I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input. A 17-year-old … he’s never even seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means. It’s practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country,” Azaria said.
The actor further revealed that the boy, “with tears in his eyes,” asked him to tell Hollywood writers that what they do has consequences on people’s lives to which Azaria said that he would deliver the message.
During the show, the actor asserted that it’s important for him to apologise to the Indians. “I really do apologise. It’s important. I apologise for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologise. And sometimes I do,” he added.
Azaria, who quit the show last year, took several seminars and even spoke to Indians to understand why the character was problematic.
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