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Nothing is Wrong with Apu April 15, 2018

Posted by voolavex in Social Issues.
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This is a response to the recent Apu stereotype campaign. I put it on “contact me/write something” available on his website.  Hari Kondbulo has not replied.  I think he did for the publicity.  Talk about Apu being exploited.  I am a long time Simpsons fan – since they were “bumpers” on the Tracey Ullman.  Hari Kondabulo was a baby then or simply not even born.  Anyway, this is my own take.

I know a pretty fair amount about India. Spoken and written, history and humor. I also know that Apu’s accent is how many Indians sound when they speak English. Is it demeaning and (buzz word alert) racist?? Isn’t it funny that when a character (live or in a cartoon) is French or British it’s okay to voice or portray the accent as charming and often funny? And it doesn’t have to be a native-born actor. Yet the accent is often authentic and correct. Russians can have very thick accents very often – and they are imitated in the media (and my neighborhood) that’s okay too.  Voice actors are invisible.  It is only lately we know the name of any.    It is only lately we know the name of any. Just like regional accents in America – this is how many people sound. Suppose Apu was voiced by a South Asian – the same accent but one that is “real” and not an imitation by an American actor? Would that be okay? And a larger question exists as well: What should South Asians sound like.  Call center slaves?  Should they bleach their speech so other South Asians will not be offended?

Here’s the skinny:  Many mini-marts are owned by South Asians. Many motels are run by South Asians. (The name Patel was and is a term for a parcel of land.)?  Lots. Run well, profitable and a business that hires other South Asians and helps them make a living. Many sound like Apu;   Should they not? The characters on the Simpson’s are satirical. Snake sounds like a cultured street thug. Mr. Burns sounds like many old white men I have been around especially in  Ivy League areas. Mr. Smithers is a gay stereotype.
Wiggum is an Irish cop.  Milhouse is a whiny nerd.  Should actors and millions of fans BDS Apu’s accent? Should all beer guzzling, overweight numbskulls rise up and protest? (You may be married or related to one? ).

The Simpsons is satire at its very best.

But hooray for the documentarian/comedian that questions all of the above. And hooray for the publicity and fame and money it is making him. I suspect this: The Simpsons for its long run and delighted audiences and guest voices will remain funnier long after Hari Kondabulo and “The Trouble with Apu” has heard hits last laugh.

Namaste.

 

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