‘The Problem With Apu’: Just How Racist Is This “Minstrel” Simpsons Character?

This new doco is already getting people talking.

Apu Minstrel

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As iconic a program as The Simpsons may be, there’s no getting around the fact that one of the show’s longest-standing characters is highly questionable.

A convenience store clerk whose broad accent comes courtesy of Hank Azaria, a white guy, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon has been regularly criticised over the years as an offensive stereotype, which given that he’s probably the most recognisable Indian character on American television is less than ideal.

Now comedian Hari Kondabolu is delving deeper into the issue for a new doco, The Problem with Apu. Kondabolu speaks to a number of prominent media personalities of South Asian descent including Kal Penn, Aasif Mandvi, Hasan Minhaj and Maulik Pancholy.

He also asks Whoopi Golberg whether Apu counts as a minstrel, to which she replies “he has all the qualifications”.

Not helping the situation at all is The Simpsons writer Dana Gould, who seemingly defends the character by telling Kondabolu that “there are accents that, by their nature, to white Americans sound funny. Period.”

As excuses go, it’s not great.

The Problem with Apu will air on truTV in the US later this year and light the internet on fire shortly after.