Quantico Star Priyanka Chopra: I Was Teased Because of The Simpsons' Apu

Lawrence Kim
Мая 5, 2018

Actress Priyanka Chopra has joined the call for The Simpsons creators to retire Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, insisting the stereotype is so "out of date".

The "Quantico" star told the hosts of "The View" on Thursday that even though Apu is a beloved character, it doesn't mean he's a proper representation of South Asian Americans.

Chopra concedes that Apu has been a part of The Simpsons for almost 30 years now, but points out that the population of Indian-Americans have tripled since then, "so the voice is louder... the demand for representation from people of color is louder".

The backlash against "The Simpsons'" depiction of Apu was accelerated in the past year due to the release of Hari Kondabolu and Michael Melamedoff's documentary "The Problem With Apu", in which Indian and South Asian actors spoke about the character's racial insensitivity. Representation for people of color is louder. Yes, it's a pop culturally super-successful show... but that gives it more responsibility. There's been a quietly growing, increasingly powerful grassroots movement against the depiction, pushed to the forefront of our culture by comedian Hari Kondabolu, who made the documentary The Problem with Apu. "I was always asked when I was in high school - like at 14, 15 - why I didn't speak like that or... did I find gold in my rivers?"

Chopra's comments come after Hank Azaria, who voices Apu, opened up about the whole thing during an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert". "There is the internet and the media where people can have a conversation". While she admitted that's true, she argued that Apu long served as the only Indian representation on American TV, and that much as changed since the show premiered in 1989.

South Asians were the fastest growing ethnic group in the USA between 2000 and 2010, but they're still underrepresented onscreen ― something Asian-Americans as a whole have likewise struggled with. Just a few years ago, Ashton Kutcher donned "brownface" to portray a Bollywood producer named "Raj" for a Popchips commercial. The numbers are even worse for roles in cable scripted shows. The show, I think, aired in '89 and it was path-breaking at the time for television. Since the documentary's premiere, The Simpsons responded with a pretty bad and callous episode, Matt Groening doubled down, and Azaria has said he might step aside.

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