Hank Azaria went on record at the Television Critics Association (TCA) to address the controversy over the character of Apu in “The Simpsons”, which he voices, by saying, “the idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased, or worse, based on the character of Apu in “The Simpsons”, the voice, or any other other tropes of the character, is distressing, and especially post 9/11 in America, the idea that anybody was marginalized based on it, or had a hard time, is very upsetting to me, personally and professionally.”
The recurring character of Apu, an Indian store clerk in the long-running show, has caused a bit of an uproar in entertainment circles after writer-comedian Hari Kondabolu premiered a TruTV documentary called “The Problem With Apu”.
Part of the documentary focuses on the problematic choice of casting a white man to voice an Indian character.
Azaria seemed horrified to discover that his character could have caused offense, saying “It’s a character that I’ve done for 29 years now and I’ve done it with a lot of love and joy and with pride”. He was also quick to add that he does not take peoples’ concerns lightly, nor does he think they should be dismissed. The actor emphasized that, “I think it’s really important when people express themselves about racial issues, what they feel is unfair or upsetting and distressing, what makes them feel angry or sad or hurt”.
As for how the character of Apu will be handled on the next season of “The Simpsons”, Azaria affirmed that it’s not up to him, but rather, up to the show’s writers and creators. However, he is sure the controversy will be addressed at the very least within the show.