Published: Sat, January 18, 2020
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Hank Azaria Says He's Done Voicing 'The Simpsons' Apu

Hank Azaria Says He's Done Voicing 'The Simpsons' Apu

After 30 years, Hank Azaria will no longer voice Indian immigrant and Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu on The Simpsons. In 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu released the documentary film "The Problem with Apu", which outlined how audiences of South Asian descent perceived Apu as one of their sole sources of representation on TV - for better or worse.

"All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's some way to transition it or something", Azaria told the website SlashFilm.

In a 2018 episode of "The Simpsons", writers on the series addressed the controversy in a scene where Lisa looks at a framed picture of Apu and says, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect".

Matt Kim is a reporter for IGN. And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country, when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been... We all made the decision together... The show even created an episode, 2018's "No Good Read Goes Unpunished" that attempted to dismiss the controversy.

She then signals to a photograph of Apu by her bedside, which is signed: "Don't have a cow - Apu". Added Marge: "Some things will be dealt with at a later date", while Lisa chimed in, "If at all". I'm perfectly willing to step aside.

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Others joined the criticism, while some defended the show, saying all of its characters were stereotypes.

Reports the character is going to be be written out of the hit cartoon - following a documentary that criticised Apu's portrayal of Indians - has been welcomed by an Australian Indian community leader. Hank Azaria, as recently as previous year, said he was willing to step aside from the character in an interview with Stephen Colbert.

The fact that the characterization of Apu is racially offensive isn't something people are just arriving at now.

So far, Al Jean - the showrunner for "The Simpsons" - hasn't yet publicly commented on Azaria's statement, nor has there been any official confirmation from the show itself.

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