How accurate is the steoreotypical Indian accent

After racism allegations: Speaker no longer lends his voice to a Simpsons character

Hank Azaria, an American actor with Greek-Jewish roots, lent his voice to the Indian-born cartoon character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in the cult comic series "The Simpsons" for 30 years. Apu owns the Kwik-E-Mart supermarket and has eight children. He lives in fictional Springfield, the town where The Simpsons are set. The documentary film "The problem with Apu" penned by Hari Kondabolu saw this constellation of white speaker and colored cartoon figure first exposed to loud criticism two years ago.

The American comedian Hari Kondabolu, who has Indian roots himself, rubs against the strong accent with which the Indian-born Apu speaks. The portrayal of this representative of a South Asian minority in the USA, where the Simpsons are based, is the starting point for the overarching question of how the media reinforce existing stereotypes. The film, directed by Michael Melamedoff, sparked a major debate on the subject in America. Imitating foreign-sounding accents is a taboo for many as a cultural appropriation.

Hank Azaria would like to resign from the Apu's role as speaker

The ongoing debate has probably now led to the fact that actor Azaria no longer wants to play the role of Apu, who is one of the residents of the fictional Springfield. As he announced in an interview published on the American blog "/ film", he is now quitting this role. "We all made the decision together," said Azaria. "We all believe it's the right thing". Azaria still speaks other roles within the cartoon series. For example, he lends his voice to the nameless comic book seller, the restaurant owner Luigi Risotto and Dr. Nick Riviera.

What's next with Apu?

Apu - how things will go on with this Simpsons character has not yet been clarified

It is still unclear whether Azaria's withdrawal also means the end of the character Apu. It is possible that Apu will disappear from the series or get a new speaker. There is still no official statement from the producers or Fox Broadcasting Co. Kondabolu suggests on Twitter to let talented writers make the role interesting in the future. In any case, he hopes Apu will continue to belong to Springfield. If not, he fears death threats.

Despite his criticism of the series, Kondabolu comes out as a fan of the Simpsons. Should the character of the Apu cease to exist in the future, it is questionable what will happen to other exaggerated characters within the Simpsons world. Mention should be made of Anthony D'Amico, known as "Fat Tony" - leader of the Springfield mafiosi - and the "bee man" Pedro Chespirito - a TV producer who only pulls out short sentences in a Mexican-influenced Spanish.

Reactions of the makers to the criticism

When the documentary "The problem with Apu" raised accusations of racism against the Simpsons, the makers reacted. Political incorrectness became an issue. In one episode two of the main characters, mother Marge and daughter Lisa Simpson, speak about offensive and racist-sounding book passages. These are part of an old work that Marge knows from childhood. The mother's idea is to carry the old lines over to the present day. The fact that the topic goes back to the Apu controversy is shown by the fact that the shopkeeper of Indian origin makes an appearance immediately afterwards.

The Simpsons - on TV for 30 years

The Simpsons has been around since 1989; they run on German television on ProSieben. The series is known for its ruthless view of American society, for its humor that doesn't appeal to everyone and for its parodies of pop culture. Numerous stars have already made a guest appearance with the Simpsons - for example Stephen Hawking or Paul McCartney. The US broadcaster Fox has commissioned the 32nd season. It is currently in production.