The Simpsons Actor Hank Azaria Will No Longer Voice Apu Due to Racism Allegations

The Simpsons Actor Hank Azaria Will No Longer Voice Apu Due to Racism Allegations

The Simpsons actor Hank Azaria has been at the centre of controversy as the voice of Indian immigrant Apu, considered a South Asian stereotype by many viewers

Hank Azaria has announced he will no longer lend his voice to Indian immigrant and Kwik-E-Mart owner, Apu, who is a popular character on The Simpsons. Hank has been Apu Nahasapeemapetilon’s voice for around thirty years but says the racism allegations against him have finally taken a toll. In a recent interview, Hank said, “All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's some way to transition it or something. We all made the decision together... We all agreed on it. We all feel like it's the right thing and good about it."

Over the years, many viewers have accused the show’s creators of promoting South Asian stereotyping with Apu’s character. In 2017, the allegations increased after the release of a documentary, The Problem With Apu, which was written by and starred comedian Hari Kondabolu. Directed by Michael Melamedoff, the documentary highlighted how the character and his legacy were a racial stereotype.

Apu Due

The Simpsons’ writers responded to the documentary by trying to make the character less offensive but were unsuccessful. In an episode aired in 2018, one of the main characters Marge was seen reading a novel which had been adapted to make it less offensive for the modern readers. In the scene, another character Lisa says, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" She then looked over at a framed picture of Apu, which included the line, "Don't have a cow!" This led to more backlash from many viewers.

There has been no official statement from the show’s creators regarding Apu and whether the character will continue to be featured in the upcoming episodes. Meanwhile, Hank Azaria will continue to be the voice of several other characters on the show, such as Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy.

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By Ayesha Hoda
Ayesha Hoda is a senior communications professional and writer, currently based in Dubai, UAE.