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On Hari Kondabolu’s Crusade against ‘Apu’ Character in The Simpsons

October 30, 2018 5 comments

I am sure that many readers of this blog have, over the last few months, heard something about an obscure (and untalented) Indian “comedian” known as Hari Kondabolu try to use a SJW-ism heavy documentary to promote the claim that the Apu character in ‘The Simpsons’ is somehow an incredibly racist stereotype. So let me begin by acknowledging that the Apu character is a racial stereotype, and was always seen as such- even when it was introduced as early as the 8th episode of Season 1 in 1990. Nor am I pushing the counter-argument that it is all OK because every characters in that show is a stereotype (which is also correct). Instead, I will focus on the likely motivations for a person such as Kondabolu to go on this fake moral crusade.

But before we go into Kondabolu’s likely and selfish motivations, let me tell me what struck me about this controversy when I first heard it a few months ago. While portrayals of non-whites in american media have almost always been negative, till the last few years- there was one aspect of Kondabolu’s crusade which immediately felt odd, even then. The choice of Apu as the most pernicious media stereotype for a person of Indian descent struck me as peculiar, since it ignored the significantly worse stereotype presented by the Raj Koothrappali character on that sad laugh-track ridden piece of crap aka ‘the Big Bang Theory’. So what made Kondabolu ignore a far worse stereotypical character from a much more recent show?

To understand what I am talking about, let us quickly compare both fictional characters starting with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. As you might have guessed from the inauthentic name itself, this character in ‘The Simpsons’ is basically how many supposedly “liberal” and “enlightened” whites in USA saw Indian immigrants throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Having said that, many features of this character other than his (also) inauthentic accent are actually not negative. Confused? Let me explain. The character of Apu is a highly educated guy from India who ends up running a popular convenience store in Springfield. Note that he is never shown as incompetent or stupid. In fact, he is shown as far more knowledgeable than other characters on that show.

Apu is not depicted as being psychically smaller than other characters, effeminate or sexually awkward around women. More importantly, his life does not revolve being associated with white characters. In other words, he has his own life, world and complete social circle. He is also not interested nor seeking acceptance from white characters in that show. His political views are also not liberal or conservative. For example, he is pro-gun rights but also has no interest becoming a Christian to gain more social acceptance. Long story short, the character of Apu is fully fleshed out and equal to others on that show. One could even say that he is one of the better examples of a non-white character in american media, especially one from early 1990s.

Now let us talk about the abortion known as Raj Koothrappali on the laugh-track ridden crap-a-thon known as ‘The Big Bang Theory’. Compared to the character of Apu, Raj is brownface. What makes this even more problematic is that this particular show started in 2007. So what is this character’s distinguishing features? Well.. for starters, he too is highly educated- but any similarities with Apu end right there. Unlike Apu, the character of Raj is repeatedly shown as naive, stupid and ignorant of “american white” social conventions. He is also depicted as the “undeserving” rich progeny of some Indian guy. He has no social life beyond hanging with and trying to gain social acceptance from a bunch of white social losers.

The character of Raj, in contrast to Apu, therefore does not display agency. He is nothing more the punchline of jokes and a target for extra ridicule in that show, unlike Apu. He is not depicted as having any strong belief system, secular or otherwise. Did I mention that he is physically smaller than the other dweebs on that show? But it get’s worse. He is repeatedly shown as highly effeminate, one might say.. quasi-gay. In fact, for many years, he was shown as unable to speak in front of (white) women without being drunk. He is also depicted as unable to manage his own money or life, in other words- infantile. And that hack.. I mean Kondabolu wants us to believe that the character of Apu was a negative racial stereotype.

So why did that sad hack choose to focus on Apu in ‘The Simpsons’ rather than the execrable character of Raj in that abomination. It comes down to a calculation. Kondabolu calculated that he could get more media coverage if he went after a more well-known character than a less well-known one. Think about it, had most of you heard about Hari Kondabolu before this controversy? Why not? If you read a bit about his early career, you can clearly see a guy who is desperate to use any SJW-type issue to become famous and rich. Kondabolu was heavily in the SJW scene even before most of us knew about its existence. His choice of target had, therefore, everything to do with self-promotion and nothing to do with a genuine interest in the cause.

What do you think? Comments?