You guys have probably heard about this within the past couple of days already, but I felt like I should share my thoughts on it. Plus I know you guys probably have a lot you want to say and discuss about it in the Talkbacks! I ask of you, dear readers, to read this entire essay and see exactly where I am going with these musings before making any snap judgements.
Following Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary THE PROBLEM WITH APU, which makes the point that Apu’s character is wildly racist and promotes Indian stereotypes, THE SIMPSONS decided to just remove the character instead of letting it become one big endless political thing. This was probably the best way they could handle such a thing in 2018, because it seems that there is no fighting the unforgiving internet these days when a big stink has been about social injustice. I'll admit that I haven't actually seen the documentary, but it isn't really a stretch for me to see where the idea is coming from if you've watched recent episodes or just heard people quote him.
I grew up watching THE SIMPSONS while it was still good throughout the 90s. I saw Apu has a hard working, intelligent man who showed that he actually knew more about American history than the average native born citizen. He didn’t put up with Homer’s shit and was generally a good person. He is for the most part a respectful and loving husband, even after making some mistakes. Mistakes are what make anyone or character human. These are the elements that make me believe he was a good character, until things changed.
I think the real problem with his representation is that he is the only Indian character that many people were regularly exposed to for a very long time, decades! Being that, over time became the stereotype himself. It’s not THE SIMPSONS’ responsibility to represent the entire spectrum of people of a specific country. Apu was just one more person that added to the spectrum of what Springfield was, nothing more. And definitely not joke at anyone’s expense.
It’s no secret that over time THE SIMPSONS has greatly declined in quality, perhaps the level of representation went with that. Bart, Lisa, Homer, and Marge are all just cardboard cutouts of themselves in modern episodes (Maggie has always just be “the baby”), so it’s no surprise that other people in the town of Springfield are too cardboard cutouts of their previous selves.
The show has always been episodic, so there has never been much room for character development to stick. However, in the earlier seasons: characters used to learn real lessons in episodes that you could empathize with and take something from. Those would kind of stick, but over time they ran out of ideas and just started reusing things shamelessly. Homer treats Marge poorly and she leaves him over and over again. This became most visible to me during THE SIMPSONS MOVIE when Marge left Homer, and I was thinking to myself I’ve seen this before. These days, any conflict is pretty easily resolved in the show and you definitely don’t feel like that character involved has learned anything. It’s just another episode to fill up a season and pay some salaries.
In conclusion, it was merely a fault of too much time with one character that created a lack of exposure to other representation of people of India; along with the decline of quality of the show is that Apu’s once unique character too went with it. THE SIMPSONS was great once, but it cannot be any longer, because the necessary changes were just not made for it to keep up with the evolving world that we live in.
What I think is a real solution to any kind of character that would be misrepresented in THE SIMPSONS? Just please, cancel the fucking show. Nothing of substance has come from it for probably over a decade. We can still be nostalgic and watch the old episodes from time to time, it will not dismantle your childhood, I promise. Perhaps every other person that is stereotyped in THE SIMPSONS too could be left in the past as they should be. This horse has been long dead and too outdated to be doing society any favors by having THE SIMPSONS continue.
These are the thoughts of Big Eyes, and Big Eyes accessories. Furthermore, these musings do not represent AICN as a whole. The fact that I’m even writing a disclaimer is because of the times. I’m open to hearing counter arguments.
This is a warning: if you are straight up racist in your comments (here, or anywhere on the site) you will be banned.