D’oh! A Simpsons Controversy 😲
The Simpsons premiered a new episode Sunday that addressed the standing controversy around Apu's portrayal on the show as a stereotypical gas-station-owning Indian. In short, the show said the character was applauded 30 years ago but political sensitivities have changed...so “what can you do?” Needless to say, their laissez-faire approach caused a tweetstorm. Roll Simpsons clip.
Controversy, you say?
The whole thing gained steam after Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolumade a documentary last year called The Problem with Apu. It attacked how the Simpsons drew from racial stereotypes about South Asians and how Apu’s character, whom they emphasize was voiced by a white actor, reflected all those negative stereotypes.
Simpsons' supporters criticize the left for taking political correctness too far. The Simpsons have been on the air for decades now, and no one took offense to Apu back then. They argue it is today’s era of political correctness as the reason why this is happening. They claim that if everything were to be edited and tailored to be politically correct, it would be less effective and interesting. Also, the right point out how almost every character in the series is stereotyped, not just Apu. After all, they say, the show revolves around satirical comedy.
Simpsons' critics view the episode as an inadequate response to the Apu controversy. They perceived The Simpsons’ ‘oh well’-type response as an indication that the show writers don’t really understand or care about the issue of offensive representations of minority groups and are trying to brush it aside. They find it especially painful that it was Lisa, a tolerant and liberal character on the show, to be the one that delivered the response.
Shifting comedy styles
This controversy may be a sign of the added expectations for satirical shows like The Simpsons. Whether this is a good thing or not, there’s pressure to avoid controversial content nowadays. If not, shows risk alienating much of their fan base. The Simpsons isn’t the only show to rely on satirical humor; South Park is known for their satirization of ethnic groups and politically correct culture. As a result, they’ve also had their fair share of controversies.
Here come the conspiracies...
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