Following on from the 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu, the discussion surrounding beloved Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and whether the portrayal of the character is inappropriate continues to stir.

At the recent Disney conference, the issue was raised with the show’s creators confirming that despite the backlash, Apu will indeed “Come again” in future episodes.

When asked by a fan about the future of Apu at the D23 Expo at the weekend, series creator Matt Groening asserted that the show will go on, so to speak, and Apu will continue to be a part of it. When asked if the character will remain in the show, Groening simply replied, “Yes…We love Apu. We’re proud of Apu.”

For those who didn’t catch the 2017 doco, the piece addresses the tropes of cultural appropriation and racial stereotyping used to add texture to the fabled Kwik-E-Mart owner. Soon after the doco was released, there were rumours that Apu would be written out of the series, however producer Al Jean was quick to shut them down.

Hank Azaria, who voices the character, commented that he would understandably step down from the role if that’s what the shows audience wanted, calling it “The right thing to do”

“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, how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been,” he said.

He expressed his desire for a more culturally inclusive writers room, with more writers with Indian and South Asian heritage, “Not in a token way,” he said at the time, “but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take. Including how it is voiced, or not voiced.

“I’m perfectly happy and willing to step aside,” he continued. “Or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what The Simpsons does, it not only makes sense, it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”

As pointed out by The Independent, this isn’t the first time the show has addressed the conflict that surrounds Apu. In the 2018 episode No Good Read Goes Unpunished. The episode features a scene where Marge reads an old children’s book to Lisa, carefully tiptoeing around outdated stereotypes within the story.

Looking directly at the camera, Lisa responds “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”

The Simpsons season 31 will air September this year.

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