Since 1990 Hank Azaria has been the voice of dozens of characters on The Simpsons, including one that happens to be a pretty shameless racial stereotype. Yep, we’re talking Apu to you, namely Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Apu, of course, is the focus of stand-up comic Hari Kondabolu’s recent TruTV documentary, The Problem With Apu, which explores the cultural impact of Apu and the show’s perpetuation of Indian stereotypes. Kondabolu tried to get Azaria to appear in the movie, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.
Well, TMZ decided to pick up the case. In their typical gonzo fashion, they approached Azaria at an airport to ask him his opinion on Kondabolu’s movie and the criticism of the character. He doesn’t really say much in return, making vague comments about the show’s producers discussing what they can do with the character in the future. “The documentary made some really interesting points,” Azaria says in the clip below, “and it gave us a lot at The Simpsons to think about… it’s really upsetting that that was offensive or hurtful to anybody.” It’s not much, but it’s the most detailed response Azaria has given to Kondabolu’s film so far.
Kondabolu has since written a few tweets in response to Azaria’s statements, and also recorded a brief video for TMZ. He’s not entirely feeling Azaria’s statements, as you can see below. Kondabolu has been pretty consistent on his end: he’s not asking for the show to scrap Apu or replace Azaria as the voice at this point, but to turn this stereotype into a more well-rounded and fully developed character, one with a unique voice and some power over his situation. He wants the show to turn its only prominent Indian cast member from a cliché into an actual character, which is entirely reasonable. Don’t take our word for it, though: here’s Kondabolu’s tweets and video.