Super-wealthy and world-famous actress Priyanka Chopra just appeared in an interview for British Vogue and, in that interview, declared that she had been traumatized by a character on The Simpsons, a comedy cartoon, which she claimed was the “bane of [her] existence.”
That came at around the 4:30 mark in the British Vogue interview, at which point the the 41-year-old actress said:
To be on The Simpsons in my wedding dress was really funny and ironic, considering Apu was the bane of my life when I was growing up. Everybody kept asking me why I didn’t speak like Apu, why my accent wasn’t like Apu? – Apu had a really exaggerated Indian accent, as we all know now. This was really bittersweet and funny because obviously, The Simpsons are an iconic part of most of our childhood, but it was also the irony of me in an Indian dress marrying a white guy.
She’s not the only star to say such things about “Apu.” Hank Azaria, the former voice of Apu, did as well, saying: “I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input. A 17-year-old … he’s never even seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means. It’s practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country. I really do apologize. It’s important. I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do.”
The New York Times, reporting on Azaria’s decision to stop voicing Apu in 2021 and the social pressures that might have caused him to make that decision, reported:
Hank Azaria said he will no longer provide the voice on “The Simpsons” for the convenience-store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, whose thick accent and penny-squeezing ways have led to criticism that the character was a racist stereotype.
It was not clear what Mr. Azaria’s decision, first reported on Friday by the website Slashfilm, meant for Apu, which Mr. Azaria had voiced since the character was created in 1990. The producers of “The Simpsons” and Fox, its network, would not comment on whether Apu would get a new voice or perhaps be retired from the show.
In 2017, the comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem With Apu” forced Mr. Azaria, who is white, to reckon with his portrayal of the Kwik-E-Mart owner who speaks with a pronounced Indian accent. The film attempted to trace the origin story of Apu and put the character in a broader context of Hollywood depictions of Indians.
In the documentary, Mr. Kondabolu, who is of South Asian descent, called Apu “a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.” Others featured in the film recounted how the character Apu provided bullies with fodder when they were young.
Featured image credit: screengrab from the embedded video
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