Last year, the documentary The Problem With Apu forced us to wake up and smell the Squishee, when it asked us to consider the cultural impact and significance of Simpsons character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
You know him, right? Aka the only form of Indian representation any of us saw in the mainstream media growing up? Yeah, that guy.
The documentary written by South Asian-American comedian, Hari Kondabolu, quickly gained traction for pointing out how offensive Apu’s heavily stereotypical accent was, and highlighted the many problems with having a white actor (Hank Azaria) voice the character.
The Simpsons finally addressed the controversy spurred on by the doco during an episode of the famous cartoon that aired last night in the US.
In doing so, they actually ended up causing more controversy.
During the episode, titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished”, the show gave a quick but venomous response to Kondabolu’s documentary when Marge settles in to read Lisa the bedtime story, The Princess in The Garden.
Lisa notes that Marge is exhausted, and Marge responds by explaining it’s hard work editing stories to please politically correct readers in 2018.
“It takes a lot of work to take the spirit and character out of a book,” she says, “but now it’s as inoffensive as a Sunday in Cincinnati,” Marge adds.
And then things just get really sad.
Lisa points out the story starts off with a perfect character, therefore removing the need for an emotional journey, and ultimately removing the need for the story at all.
The subtext is loud and clear.
“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” she adds.
She then glimpses at a framed photo of Apu on her bedside table that reads: “Don’t have a cow.”
Of course, none of us were pleased with this lackluster response from The Simpsons, least not Kondabolu.
Marge and Lisa breaking character to turn to the camera and tell viewers that “Some things will be dealt with at a later date… if at all” is as immature as being that audience member who needs to have the very last clap at the end of a performance.
Clearly, the powers that be at The Simpsons just don’t get it, and don’t care to get it.
Not only have they shrugged off the issue that so many have taken offence to, they’ve destroyed us just that little bit more by having Lisa – the one moral, ethical, progressive and educated character that was meant to save the show from completely falling into racist and sexist oblivion, be the one to pull that final trigger.
How could they do this to us and to her? The same girl that created Lisa Lionheart with the hopes of providing young girls with a positive role model, is now telling us that cultural appropriation and racism is OK because that’s the way it’s always been…
For the first time in her life, they’ve silenced the real Lisa, and it’s so damn disappointing that they’ve chosen to use her as a mouthpiece for their intentionally damaging comments.
And just in case there was any confusion about what the creators where trying to do with this scene, just keep in mind this is what show runner Al Jean was tweeting after the episode aired.