Hank Azaria Responds to Hari Kondabolu’s ‘The Problem with Apu’ Documentary: “It’s a Lot to Digest”
Hank Azaria has responded to Hari Kondabolu’s truTV documentary The Problem with Apu. Speaking to a reporter from TMZ who asked for his thoughts on the documentary, Azaria said Kondabolu “made some really interesting points” and “gave us a lot at The Simpsons to think about, and we really are thinking about it.” When asked what steps the show is taking to address the issue, Azaria added that “We’re just really thinking about it. It’s a lot to digest.”
Here’s what Kondabolu told us last month about Azaria’s accountability for the character of Apu:
The producers have stated that he came up with [Apu’s voice] himself. The character was not supposed to have an Indian accent, and he did it, and they kept it. So I think there’s accountability in creating the character. There’s accountability in knowing that people are upset by it and still doing it. It’s tricky because The Simpsons is an institution, and he’s not a writer. He does the writers’ bidding. But even if he’s doing the voice at the behest of this show, he’s still doing it outside of the show. He did it at a graduation ceremony at Tufts. I know he’s aware of it, and I know he saw my piece on Totally Biased, and that it affected him. It made him feel bad and question doing it, but he’s still doing it. So I think the culpability is spread around: producers, writers, Hank. It’s also where society was. We are all responsible because we said it was okay. We allowed it.
And here’s Azaria’s full response to TMZ:
I think the documentary made some really interesting points, and it gave us a lot at The Simpsons to think about, and we really are thinking about it. And definitely anybody that was hurt or offended by it – by any character or vocal performance – it’s really upsetting that that was offensive or hurtful to anybody. And I think it’s an important conversation, and one definitely worth having, so thanks for asking. … We’re just really thinking about it. It’s a lot to digest.
Kondabolu offered a response of his own on Twitter yesterday after TMZ’s video with Azaria was posted, pointing out that describing him as “hurt” or “offended” by Apu is not exactly accurate:
Apu doesn’t “offend” me, he “insults” me…and my community. I’m an adult with bigger things to deal with. My film was meant to tell you to go fuck yourself & discuss why I want you to go fuck yourself & how we can prevent future incidents of people wishing others “self-fuckery.”
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) December 3, 2017