So I came across this story saying that the way The Simpson’s projects Apu is racist. It’s says, and I quote “elements of the character are troubling, including his arranged marriage, many children and that he is defined by being the owner of a convenience store.” They also say “…It gets to the insidiousness of racism.” And “elements of the Apu character are bolstering racial stereotypes“.
I have one question, which character on The Simpson’s DOESN’T bolster stereotypes of whatever race, creed, sex or religion of said character? Homer is a middle aged white man who likes to drink beer and overeat. Not to mention that he’s portrayed as an absent father, lazy, doesn’t do his job, and sits on the couch all day. Chief Wiggum is also an obese, donut eating, lazy, white cop who couldn’t chase a crook if he stole his donuts. Snake is a white trash, low life thief who always finds himself behind bars. Cletus lives in crappy house, on a farm, also has a lot of kids which he can’t name, the whole family combined couldn’t make a complete set of teeth, and he’s portrayed as a dumb hillbilly! The nerdy scientist, the Reverend, the Reverend’s wife, comic book guy, Martin, Marge’s twin sisters all bolster stereotypes, not just Apu.
The show is chock full of stereotypes, and the only bad one is APU??!!?? I’m sorry, but this angers me just a little. Everyone wants to complain about being stereotyped and stereotypes must be racist…. I’m gonna take a deep breath….
Ned Flanders. You know Ned, don’t ya? Here’s another stereotype, only this one nobody complains about. Ned is a Christian, he doesn’t cuss, he’s always friendly, he’s always in church on Sundays, his kids have names that rhyme with God, they don’t watch the same TV and movies as everyone else, are sheltered and portrayed as scared of the outside world. Ned is taken advantage of by Homer, wears a sweater all the time and quite frankly is a bit of an oddball. None of this bothers me! I can relate to Ned, stereotypes and all.
I am a Christian who tries not to cuss, I find myself being taken advantage of, I don’t let my kids watch the crap on TV (including The Simpson’s) or watch the movies that other kids watch. I try to be friendly, if I’m not outta town on Sunday, I’m in church. Apart from the mustache and the green sweater, I am Ned Flanders!
Why are stereotypes bad all of a sudden? Why is it bad to point out that a lot of East Indian men own and operate convenience stores? If that’s bad then shouldn’t portraying middle aged white men as fat, lazy slobs also be bad? If you ask me TV and Hollywood in general stereotype white men in a far worse way than they do other people. Just take a look at any sitcom on TV today, or in the last twenty years, how many of them show married men with kids as fat, lazy, slobs? To be fair, some of these stereotypes are true. That’s what makes them funny! Men my age tend to gain weight, love to sit on the couch and enjoy way more than our fair share of unhealthy calories. I don’t take offense to any of that.
Let’s take Apu for example, he owns a business and runs it. Isn’t that a good thing? Why is it so wrong to say it out loud? The fact is, a lot of East Indian men DO own and operate convenience stores. I say good for them! They’re providing for their families, they’re working. They’re doing it in a way that suits what they want out of life.
Here’s another fact, there are a lot of lazy, overweight, white men out there. Is it racist to say that? Most people don’t think so, but if I were to replace the word ‘white’ with another color and said “the prisons are full of…” I would be called racist and almost nothing I could say or do would help get me out of that hole.
My point is, the liberal double standard is becoming more and more apparent. I’m glad that it’s so obvious, I’m sad that most still can’t see it. Obviously a part of the willful ignorance ingrained into their newest recruits – conservative -bad! Liberal – good.
I wanna go back to Ned Flanders here for a bit. I admit that Christians have in the past spoken out about The Simpsons saying that it’s not a good show and kids shouldn’t watch it. We’ve even tried to get it off the air from time to time. Much to our dismay the show goes on, and I’m fine with that. Ned Flanders is a character they hammer pretty hard most of the time. They make him look goofy, and silly, and aloof. They exaggerate his okaly dokely way of talking, they show him outraged at the things non believers do, they even portray him as the kind of Christian that uses the fear of God as a way of evangelizing…even to his kids. Again, most of that doesn’t bother me, I would say it’s a true representation, or you might say, a stereotype, of what many church going people do, or at least how culture sees us.
The show also shows him reading the Bible, it shows the kids reading Bible oriented books, and watching TV shows that are faith based. These are good things! This is accurate of what Christian dads like myself try to do. Mind you they do often portray these things as silly or someone makes fun of them for doing it, but the image is there nonetheless. Now imagine for a second if Apu’s character was shown in a way where his religion was being mocked like Ned’s. Do you think that the people who wrote the article would’ve stopped at simply saying that stereotyping Apu is racist? No way, they would be looking to publicly hang the writers for being so demeaning to another religion, they might even coin a new word “hinduphobic’ or something. There would be protests and boycotts, and if they had their way people would be fired, the show would be canceled. All because they poked a little fun at an eastern religion, the same way they already do to our westernized version of Christianity.
Hank Azaria has apologized for how the character he voices has been portrayed, he says that The Simpson’s writers are evaluating what to do next with Apu. Hank Azaria is a comedian, poke fun at the world is his job, does it seem odd to anyone other than me that all of a sudden, after twenty five years, that now they see the stereotypes as offensive? I don’t think it’s a coincidence, I think that since Hollywood is seeing a reckoning from the many, many women they’ve used, abused and exploited that whoever is complaining about Apu is simply hopping on the bandwagon, maybe a different part of the bandwagon, but they’re hoping to get their share of the pie. Need I remind anyone that Hollywood and TV glorified Charlie Sheen for his character on Two and a Half Men and how he can get any woman, anywhere to jump into his bed? It was funny when Sheen exploited women, but it’s not funny when it happens in real life?
Anyway, one more point. Russell Peters, you know who I’m talking about. He’s of East Indian heritage and he makes fun of it all the time! Is this the same double standard we see in other parts of progressive society, where it’s okay for people to make fun of their own culture but it’s not okay for people to make fun of other cultures? I think so.
Long story short, if The Simpson’s needs to rewrite Apu into a less offensive role then maybe they should also start rewriting Homer, or Marge, or even Bart, because not all men are like Homer, not all women like Marge, and not all boys like Bart.