In a world where the past is increasingly being either forgotten or re-written to suit modern tastes and sensibilities, many characters from America’s most sacred pop culture institutions have been either tweaked or outright cancelled at the whims of woke critics.
Perhaps none more beloved than Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the entrepreneurial Indian immigrant from the animated sitcom The Simpsons. Better known as the owner of the ubiquitous Kwik-E-Mart.
Unfortunately, poor Apu has been getting something of a bad rap as of late. After comedian Hari Kondabolu produced a 2017 documentary titled The Problem With Apu taking the character to task over what he believed was a racist portrayal of an Indian man, more and more detractors have voiced their complaints about the character.
Ironically, the show itself seemed to be aware of these issues even before the documentary was released. Back in 2016, The Simpsons aired an episode called Much Apu About Something guest starring Utkarsh Ambudkar that reflected on the character’s history and role within the show, and addressed common complaints and misconceptions leveled against the character.
That wasn’t enough for many critics though. And since 2017, the character hasn’t had a speaking appearance at all in the show.
As a matter of fact, voice actor Hank Azaria (who performed Apu along with others popular characters such as Chief Wiggum, Moe the bartender, and Cletus the slack-jawed yokel) has refused to do the Apu role anymore.
In a recent interview, Azaria expressed deep regret for ever having voiced Apu in the first place, and said he wished he could apologize to every Indian person in the country over his part in bringing the character to life over the years.
Yet amidst all of this controversy, we never got to hear from the creator of Apu himself. Cartoonist Matt Groening rarely spoke publicly about his creation in The Simpsons.
Sure, we got some sense of how the show writers felt when a 2018 episode featured a picture of Apu along with the words “Don’t have a cow”, but as far as an official statement from the series creator we were left in the dark as to how he felt about the controversy he had unleashed upon the world.
But now, after a recent interview with USA Today, we finally know where Matt Groening stands on the issue, and he minced no words.
“I think the Apu stories are fantastic, and he’s one of the most nuanced characters on a silly two-dimensional cartoon show. So, yeah, I’m proud of Apu.” Matt Groening said, before carefully pausing. “I’m trying not to open up another chasm of criticism, but it doesn’t matter what I say. I’ll get it anyway.”
He also noted that while he’s not against the new standard on the show to only have non-white actors voice non-white characters, it wasn’t his decision to implement it.
On Apu specifically, Groening said he still has ambitious plans for the character, but can’t reveal any other details at the moment.