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Dan Hannan: The problem with Apu

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Washington Examiner
April 30, 2018

Our determination to take umbrage at innocuous things keeps finding new targets. The latest is The Simpsons, which was accused in a documentary last year of perpetuating stereotypes.

Well, duh. For three decades, the animated sitcom has poked fun at every creed and every nation. It has lampooned Catholics and Protestants, Hindus and Buddhists, Frenchmen and Scotsmen, Germans and Brazilians and — especially — Americans, generally managing to be funny without being cruel.

Then, a few months ago, a comedian named Hari Kondabolu released a documentary, The Problem With Apu, complaining that the workaholic Indian owner of Kwik-E-Mart, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, was a racist caricature. Not for the first time, the writers responded with an on-screen joke. An episode broadcast earlier this month featured Marge reading Lisa a book and altering it as she went along to remove troublesome terminology. Lisa looks meaningfully into the camera and says, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” The camera then pans to a picture of Apu.

What can you do? Well, obviously, you can take to Twitter in faux-outrage. You can claim to have been deeply wounded by a light-hearted jest. You can force the actor who voices Apu, Hank Azaria, to offer to stand aside now that his “eyes have been opened”. You can attack the writers as, if not exactly bigots, then racists through complacency.

Does any of that make you feel virtuous? Have you flaunted your politically correct piety? Did you enjoy pointing out a flaw in something that everyone else enjoyed, thereby showing how sensitive and woke you were?

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This article was posted: Monday, April 30, 2018 at 7:39 am





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