Hank Azaria has gone on record to apologise “to every single Indian person” for his portrayal of Apu in The Simpsons. The actor, who is white, has been voicing the iconic character even since the show premiered in 1989, but stepped down in January 2020 owing to backlash over “racial stereotyping”.
Addressing this issue during a podcast, he stated that while he does believe that the show was founded on good intentions, but there is no denying that it contributed to “structural racism” in the US. The actor also confessed that it has taken him time that his character was offensive to the Indian-American community.
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“I really didn’t know any better. I didn’t think about it. I was unaware how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens. Just because there were good intentions it doesn’t mean there weren’t real negative consequences to the thing that I am accountable for,” he said during the Armchair Expert podcast.
He added: “I really do apologise. I know you (he was addressing Monica Padman, an Indian American) weren’t asking for that but it’s important. I apologise for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels I need to go round to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologise.”
As per reports, Azaria’s character came under close scrutiny in a 2017, when Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu released the documentary, The Problem with Apu, to draw attention towards “how western culture depicts south-east Asian communities.”