According to TMZ, Shereen Bhalla, a rep for the Hindu American Foundation, has invited actor Hank Azaria for a sit-down discussion about the alleged harm his “Simpsons” character Apu has inflicted upon the world.
“Hank doesn’t have to torment himself for his work on ‘The Simpsons,’ or at least he doesn’t have to do it alone. Bhalla says she and the staff at HAF would love to have a sit-down with him,” reported TMZ. “She tells us coming to the table with them would help Hank do a lot of the learning he seems very open to at this point. Shereen says they can expose him to Indian people’s lived experiences, and have a dialogue about his lingering guilt.”
“If Hank’s concerned about ‘cancel culture’ … HAF does not want to see that happen to the veteran actor,” TMZ continued. “We’re told the group doesn’t feel Hank needs to be excommunicated, and believes he’s genuinely sorry and willing to educate himself … which HAF would love to help him do. As for how to proceed, there are a few options. For one, HAF is offering Hank a third-party facilitated dialogue with Indians across the nation, on or off the record … his choice. Also, HAF has a podcast called ‘That’s So Hindu’ and would be more than happy to have him as a guest.”
Speaking on the “Armchair Expert” podcast with host Dax Shepard earlier this week, Azaria said he finally stepped away from the role of Apu after attending several seminars and learning from other people about how the character hurt them.“I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input,” Azaria said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “A 17-year-old … he’s never even seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means. It’s practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country.”Azaria told the boy that he apologized and that he promised to convey to Hollywood that how they portray certain people matters in the real world.
“I really do apologize,” Azaria said. “It’s important. I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do.”
Apu was never presented as a dumb Indian immigrant who runs the Kwik-E-Mart. In fact, multiple episodes spent time developing his complexity as a character throughout the show’s near three-decade run. Contrary to perception, he holds a Ph.D. in computer science, graduated from the top of his class at “Caltech” (Calcutta Technical Institute), and only runs the Kwik-E-Mart because of the joy it brings him to spend time with friends and customers.
Related: John Cleese Mocks Hank Azaria’s Apology For Playing Apu
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