The Simpsons' Hank Azaria Offers To Stop Voicing Apu Amid Controversy

It's unclear what the future of Apu on The Simpsons is.

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It's been a bumpy few weeks for The Simpsons. The long-running animated series has come under fire after its response to the controversy surrounding the character Apu. The Problem with Apu, a 2017 documentary, explored the idea that the character portrayed negative racial stereotypes. In response, The Simpsons had Lisa break the fourth wall in the April 8 episode, saying, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?"

That dismissal didn't sit well with many in the audience, who took to social media to talk about their disappointment in the show. Now the man behind the voice of Apu, Hank Azaria, says he's willing to retire from the character. Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Azaria says, "I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room... including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced. I'm perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me."

According to Azaria, the situation has been an eye-opener for him. "The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad," he says. "It certainly was not my intention. I wanted to bring joy and laughter to people."

Whether this means the show will write out Apu or recast him with a different voice actor remains to be seen. For his part, executive producer Al Jean has been discussing the issue on Twitter, writing, "Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more [importantly] right." Meanwhile, Hari Kondabolu--director of The Problem with Apu--has thanked Azaria for his words about the controversy.

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