‘Some things will be dealt with at a later date’, ... ‘If at all.’
October 28, 2018 6:25 PM   Subscribe

‘The Simpsons’ Is Eliminating Apu, But Producer Adi Shankar Found the Perfect Script to Solve the Apu Problem [Indie Wire]
““I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” said Shankar in an interview with IndieWire. “They aren’t going to make a big deal out of it, or anything like that, but they’ll drop him altogether just to avoid the controversy.””
“It was Shankar’s intention to crowdsource a script that “in a clever way subverts him, pivots him, writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a creation that was the byproduct of a predominately Harvard-educated white male writers’ room and transforms it into a fresh, funny and realistic portrayal of Indians in America.” Shankar’s primary hope was that Fox would produce the script as an episode of “The Simpsons,” but now that he has found what he calls the “perfect script” and announces the winner of his contest, he told IndieWire that he has heard from people who work for the show that “The Simpsons” is eliminating the character.” [Previously.]

• The Simpsons Is “Dealing” With Their Apu Problem by Dropping the Character Altogether [The Mary Sue]
“How do you solve a problem like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon? The question has been on everyone’s minds since Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu came out, where the comedian interviews other South Asian actors and comics about the Kwik-E-Mart manager. In the film, Kondabolu tries to reconcile his love of The Simpsons with the problematic Apu, while discussing larger issues of representation and inclusion. Now, it appears that The Simpsons is dealing with their Apu problem by quietly writing the character out of the series.”
• So why is Apu being axed from The Simpsons? [Metro]
“‘Of course he’s funny, but that doesn’t mean this representation is accurate or right or righteous,’ comedian and creator Hari Kondabolu told the BBC at the time. ‘It gets to the insidiousness of racism… because you don’t even notice it when it’s right in front of you. It becomes so normal that you don’t even think about it. ‘It seeps into our language to the point we don’t even question it because it seems like it’s just been that way forever’. Hari told Totally Biased that Apu is ‘a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father’, with elements of the character being described as problematic, such as his arranged marriage, many children and that he is defined by being the owner of a convenience store.”
posted by Fizz (30 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Manjula: Apu, it's 4 am. You're late for work.

Apu: Oh. I just had the most beautiful dream where I died.

Manjula: Oh no you don't! Not til they're out of college.

Apu: Listen, I'll die when I want to!

-Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, The Simpsons 'Eight Misbehavin'
posted by clavdivs at 6:36 PM on October 28, 2018 [18 favorites]


The actual script is not available to read, but assuming it is half as good as the article claims, Fox/Gracie's next move here is pretty obvious.
posted by rokusan at 6:40 PM on October 28, 2018


I'd like to be upset that this is their solution to Apu, but honestly, I kinda like the implications. They should have been dropping characters from the show a decade ago. Imagine how much better 2018 Simpsons might be if it bore zero resemblance to 2008 Simpsons, and 1998 Simpsons before that. I doubt it would be worse. They've had almost 40 years on TV, it's disappointing that a work of art can go on for so long and remain so stagnant.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:40 PM on October 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


To reinforce what Mr.Encyclopedia just wrote, Apu isn't the only character or joke structure that needs to go. I just rewatched the episode "Homer Badman" (the one where he pulls a gummy Venus De Milo off his feminist babysitter's butt and is accused of sexual assault) earlier this afternoon and it is so cringeworthy. I remember seeing it at the time and in reruns back in the day and not thinking much of it at the time, but man, that is an episode that does not stand the test of time.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:02 PM on October 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I just rewatched the episode "Homer Badman" (the one where he pulls a gummy Venus De Milo off his feminist babysitter's butt

The show now is godawful, mean-spirited crap, the very antithesis of what Matt Groenig set out to create. I do not let my youngest son watch it.
posted by JamesBay at 8:13 PM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ahem, thirty years, almost thirty years. As far as, The Simpsons, being art. They have occasionally pushed the envelope of pop media towards art but they are and have always been a pop culture entity. Any message they convey is in service to getting paid. Art can pay, but more often art is more about message than lucre. The highs of the, The Simpsons, early on all but guaranteed that Fox would want to keep doing the things that got them paid. Sometimes that allows for greatness, more often it results in stultifying mediocrity.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 8:20 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Imagine how much better 2018 Simpsons might be if it bore zero resemblance to 2008 Simpsons, and 1998 Simpsons before that.

I am... memories.
posted by traveler_ at 8:31 PM on October 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Of course, Hari Kondubalu is being harassed on twitter for this by insane, swivel-eyed racists. Because even though he never called for Apu to be eliminated and holds no power over the show whatsoever, The Simpsons making this decision is his fault?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:37 PM on October 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


" the very antithesis of what Matt Groenig set out to create"

I dunno, when he says "People love to pretend they're offended"about the Apu controversy...
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:54 PM on October 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Of course, Hari Kondubalu is being harassed on twitter for this by insane, swivel-eyed racists. Because even though he never called for Apu to be eliminated and holds no power over the show whatsoever, The Simpsons making this decision is his fault?

Just read some of those tweets - what is it about being filled with hate that robs a person of the ability to write a coherent sentence?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:26 AM on October 29, 2018


The show now is godawful, mean-spirited crap, the very antithesis of what Matt Groenig set out to create. I do not let my youngest son watch it.

The episode he's talking about is from the classic period.
posted by atoxyl at 12:52 AM on October 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


The thing that surprises me most, I guess, about the story is that there are still people who care enough about The Simpsons to object to any aspect of what goes on. I haven't heard anyone say anything good about new episodes of the show for, what? A decade? Maybe more? At this point I'd rather they keep Apu, turn him over to some different more diverse and culturally aware writers who can give that character a new venture and let the rest of the show disappear.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:15 AM on October 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Apu for all!

booo

Very well. No Apu for anyone!

booo

Hmm... Apu for some, miniature American flags for others!

hooray!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:00 AM on October 29, 2018 [20 favorites]


Seriously, though, I think Hari Kondubalu did great work calling attention to how problematic that character is, and it seems like the writers and producers refuse to be anything but out of touch. I'd be OK with silently removing Apu, but I feel like the better option is giving more direct creative control to someone like Adi Shankar who might be able to offer an interesting way to approach the character. For such a stale show, I don't see why they shouldn't. At the very least I'd like to read that script.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:04 AM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I dunno, when he says people,love to pretend they're offended"about the Apu controversy...

Genuinely don't understand the point you're making here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:15 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


That quote from Groening is particularly sad given who he apparently was thirty years ago.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:43 AM on October 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


Because even though he never called for Apu to be eliminated and holds no power over the show whatsoever, The Simpsons making this decision is his fault?

On at least two occasions, Al Jean pointed his Twitter followers at Kondabolu and then “agreed” to delete his tweets in exchange for Kondabolu doing the same.
posted by Etrigan at 5:10 AM on October 29, 2018


The Simpsons is not eliminating Apu. I was quite annoyed when I discovered the entire meme was essentially misinfo.

I dunno, Al Jean doesn't come right out and say "We are keeping Apu" or "Shankar is wrong that we are dropping Apu", he just says that Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons and that Shankar does not speak for the Simpsons. The Simpsons may very well be eliminating Apu and everything Al Jean tweeted would still be technically correct.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:42 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Genuinely don't understand the point you're making here.

The comment you're responding to was pointing out that Matt Groening's comments about the Apu issue seem to contradict the assumption that any meanspiritedness in the current iteration of The Simpsons is an error.
posted by palomar at 7:30 AM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Just read some of those tweets - what is it about being filled with hate that robs a person of the ability to write a coherent sentence?

A lack of education.
posted by slogger at 7:56 AM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I dunno, Al Jean doesn't come right out and say "We are keeping Apu" or "Shankar is wrong that we are dropping Apu", he just says that Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons and that Shankar does not speak for the Simpsons. The Simpsons may very well be eliminating Apu and everything Al Jean tweeted would still be technically correct.

But it does drive home how fishy this whole thing has seemed since it blew up a few days ago.

Some guy announces he has a self-proclaimed "perfect" spec script for the Simpsons. Of course we can't see the actual script, but we can surely trust that it's genius. He also declares that he has secret isnide knowledge that the show is phasing out the character. He is the only source for this claim and no one else, officially speaking for the show or otherwise, has corroborated or confirmed it. This guy is also not affiliated with the show in any way, despite all of the headlines describing him as a "producer" and giving the impression that he is (with one article I read even describing him as a Simpsons producer).

This whole thing just seems like a guy trying to drum up controversy to get a spec script made.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:04 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


TIL they are still making The Simpsons.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:24 AM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


To reinforce what Mr.Encyclopedia just wrote, Apu isn't the only character or joke structure that needs to go.
I often wince when remembering classic Simpsons episodes. Then I remember that The Kids in the Hall, which I think of as one of the more progressive and thoughtful television shows in history, repeatedly featured a white guy in full black-face makeup and a fake southern accent. . . in 1988! By comparison, Apu seems pretty reasonable. (To be clear, I'm not defending the character.) I don't know what message to take away from that realization, except despair.

I wish 21st century media would allow people to make new things. The old ones that never die, and the endless remakes of crap that contemporary producers loved as 12 year olds, are all pretty shitty.
posted by eotvos at 8:30 AM on October 29, 2018


a white guy in full black-face makeup and a fake southern accent. . . in 1988! By comparison, Apu seems pretty reasonable.

Apu is voiced by a white guy putting on a fake Indian accent, and in a world of yellow-skinned Caucasian-appearing characters, his face is brown. He really doesn't seem that reasonable.
posted by Etrigan at 8:49 AM on October 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


"Imagine how much better 2018 Simpsons might be if it bore zero resemblance to 2008 Simpsons, and 1998 Simpsons before that. I doubt it would be worse. They've had almost 40 years on TV, it's disappointing that a work of art can go on for so long and remain so stagnant."

Seriously. Simpsons should at this point be one of the most experimental and flexible shows out there. They've beaten every story they can tell with the characters into the ground and just kind of tred water with current events stories from 2 years ago shoved in here and there. I'd love to see the Simpsons for a couple seasons completely shipped out to other animators and studios. Kind of like they do with the intro sometimes, but instead the entire episode. So many great artists and creators out there who could do something novel or interesting with the world if let loose for a day, you know? Everyone knows Simpsons, we get it, it's all well established, which just means it's ripe for unique takes and boundary-pushing material in the shape of Simpsons without churning out more mediocre Simpsons.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:40 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


In my head, I'm replacing each mention of 'art' in this thread with 'repeatable industrial process.' It works pretty well.
posted by chromecow at 1:30 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


yes im sure this will certainly help with the show being a pile of shit now
posted by Bwentman at 1:51 PM on October 29, 2018




Given that it has been years since I’ve watched The Simpsons, is it right that Apu hasn’t actually been featured in three years (maybe more now?) in which case saying this is basically a stunt to draw more attention that the show currently deserves?

All these people that never seemed to care that he hadn’t been in episodes for so long now seem very up in arms about the power of “politically correct” culture.
posted by liquorice at 4:54 AM on October 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing it at the time and in reruns back in the day and not thinking much of it at the time, but man, that is an episode that does not stand the test of time.

So uh, you don't like the old time bikes Simpsons, huh?
posted by lkc at 11:00 AM on November 5, 2018


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