Daily Discussion with BQB – Is Apu Offensive?

Hey 3.5 readers.

I write an ongoing column on this fine blog called, “Is Comedy Dying?” where I lament how the “rush to offense” culture is tearing down comedy and not replacing it with anything good.  What passes for comedy now is just going to be Samantha Bee yelling at me about her political views, John Oliver snarking at me about his political views, and Amy Schumer making yet another dumb movie where she’s like, “Hey guys!  I’m a drunk slut who acts like an idiot but nice guys should like me or else they’re super mean, right?”

I digress.  On the surface, I get why an American of Indian descent might not be a fan of Apu, the owner of the Quick-E-Mart on “The Simpsons.”

On a deeper level though, those who watched the show regularly are aware that a) Apu is often the most intelligent resident of Springfield b) he’s an immigrant who built himself up into a businessman c) he suffers casual racism from incompetent Springfield boobs regularly with dignity and grace, often helping those who hurt him and d) he might as well be the one making money selling Homer outdated snacks because if he weren’t doing, Homer would just drive his fat ass to another convenience store and if anything, the scenes where Apu crosses out the date on expired products only for Homer to eat them and get sick is more about how chubby Americans suffer a love affair with junk food and are willing to make the worse decisions about what to shove in their holes.

I get the complaints – Hank Azaria isn’t Indian, some Indian Americans lament that when they were growing up they were called “Apu” or subjected to catch phrases like, “Thank you, come again” and so on.

But I don’t know.  Look at the rest of the show.  If we’re getting rid of Apu, then we also have to get rid of Bumblebee Man, Groundskeeper Willie, Uter the Chubby Exchange student and so on.  From Chief Wiggum, the fat donut chomping cop to Principal Skinner, the uptight, bureaucratic educator, every character is essentially a stereotype because that’s what cartoons are.

I get that people get offended but good comedy offends everyone, eventually.  There’s humor in everyone, everywhere.  If anything, comedy is fair when it offends everyone, when sooner or later, it pokes fun at anyone and everyone and leaves no one behind.

At the very least, can we really harangue the Simpsons creators for doing something that was considered OK 30 years ago?

I don’t know.  I do get the complaints.  I don’t want people to feel bad.  Still, I don’t know how the Simpsons continues if these are the constraints we are working under now.

It makes me a little sad and ready to throw in the comedy towel, to just let the snarky Manhattanite comics take the whole thing and ruin it all with their high falutin, brie cheese sniffing jokes that only three people get.  That’s fine.  Let’s just go ahead and get the Simpsons cancelled then.  What really need is 16 more movies where Amy Schumer laments that she can’t find a man who will accept her drunken sluttyness, more of John Oliver and Steve Colbert making my eyes glaze over with their policy talks, more of Samantha Bee yelling jokes at me that her writers room nerds thought were funny so ergo, I should find them funny.

I’ll be at the bar, 3.5 readers.  Tell me what you say in the comments below.

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3 thoughts on “Daily Discussion with BQB – Is Apu Offensive?

  1. I think we are all really eager to get our panties in a bunch about something and if we can’t find a legit issue, we pick one that sounds good and run with it.
    Could people spend just a little of that time contributing to the world, rather than tearing it down?
    Can you imagine?
    “I’ll put down my cell phone and drive so I don’t endanger someone’s life instead of ranting on FB about a 30 year old cartoon character.”
    A girl can dream right?

    • I do get it a little bit, i.e. Indians who grew up being called Apu. told “Thank you, come again.” etc. But on the other hand, bullies will be bullies and they’ll always find something. My fear is that the result will be that TV producers just won’t make characters with accents anymore…which seems to be the opposite of diversity.

      The Simpsons should have just replayed the episode where Apu tries to speak with an American accent to avoid deportation and gets sad that he just cant be himself.

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