A lot of fans still vehemently defend the character. It's not difficult to understand why. Apu has been a staple of the show for three decades. He's in video games, Lego sets, and is personal friends with a goddamn Beatle. (And not Ringo, either. A good one.) Plus, Apu is clearly meant to be one of the smartest characters on the show. Take the episode "Much Apu About Nothing," in which Mayor Quimby distracts Springfield's citizens by blaming the town's problems on undocumented immigrants. Apu's efforts to become a citizen prove time and again that he's actually more knowledgeable about American history than the people testing him.
So despite the fact that on paper, Apu fits the description of a regressive stereotype, a lot of folks are willing to look the other way because his inception was never malicious ... except it kinda was.
Recently, the man behind Apu's voice, Hank Azaria, even offered to step away from the character, and expressed regret over the hurt he may have caused. He also claimed that his only intention with Apu was to "spread laughter and joy."
But in a 2015 interview, briefly seen in the documentary, Azaria admits that the Apu voice stemmed from an Indian 7-Eleven clerk who chastised him for drinking Gatorade in the store before paying for it. Azaria then goes on to say that he was so aggrieved by the clerk's outrageous demand that he not consume the thing he hadn't actually purchased that he began to imitate him. Why? Because that's how he likes to "work out aggression." According to Azaria:
"It's like, 'I'm observing how annoying you are, this is what you sound like. [Laughs] Isn't it annoying?' A lot of comedians I think say it starts with sort of a hostile instinct."
Aggression? Hostility? That's not spreading joy at all; that's making fun of a guy who got under your skin. Also, according to Reiss, Apu was merely written as "Clerk," and it was Azaria who randomly started doing the accent, presumably because he still resented being chastised for illicitly guzzling an energy drink. Azaria, however, contends that it was the producers who asked: "Can you do an Indian accent, and how offensive can you make it?"
Either way, the origin of Apu seemingly isn't as innocent as everyone involved is suggesting. Recently, rumors surfaced that he's quietly been dropped from the show altogether. No one can really tell, though, because would involve having to force yourself to watch new Simpsons episodes.
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