‘The Simpsons’ Creator Matt Groening Says Apu Racism Debate Is “Tainted”

The Simpsons creator Matt Groening has again responded to accusations that the show’s characterization of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is racist. Delivering a passionate defense to the New York Times, Groening said he still really loves the character, and that the debate has become “tainted.”

For a little backstory, last year a documentary titled The Problem With Apu followed comedian Hari Kondabolu as he examined whether The Simpsons character promoted racial stereotypes about Indians. The documentary sparked a wide debate, and Hank Azaria, who voices Apu, offered to step aside.

“I love Apu. I love the character, and it makes me feel bad that it makes other people feel bad,” said Groening in an interview published yesterday. “But on the other hand, it’s tainted now — the conversation, there’s no nuance to the conversation now. It seems very, very clunky. I love the character. I love the show.”

“Back in the day,” Groening said, referring to 1990, when Apu was introduced, “I named the character after ‘The Apu Trilogy’ by Satyajit Ray. I love Indian culture and Indian film and Indian music.”

He continued, “I thought that the name was a signal that we had, at least, a scholarly intention.” Groening went onto explain that he’d hoped Apu would be so beloved that children would look into his cultural heritage: “I thought maybe a kid was going to grow up and find out what the name came from and go watch ‘The Apu Trilogy,’ which are the greatest films, basically, in the history of cinema.”

Curious to find out more? We looked into The Problem With Apu here.

How do you feel about Apu? Let us know in the comments.

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