Priyanka Chopra: Apu from ‘The Simpsons’ was ‘the bane of my life growing up’
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the call for The Simpsons creators to retire Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, insisting the stereotype is so “out of date”.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 Baywatch beauty, who grew up in India before moving to the U.S. as a teen, reveals she spent much of her youth despising the cartoon shopkeeper, known for his over-the-top accent and exaggerated mannerisms, because it only contributed to her classmates’ ignorant assumptions of those with similar backgrounds.
“He was the bane of my life growing up, for sure,” she confessed on daytime talk show The View, as she weighed in on the controversy sparked by comedian Hari Kondabolu’s criticism in his 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu.
“I was always asked when I was in high school at 14, 15, why I didn’t speak like that…? Did I find gold in my rivers? Did I go to school on elephants? I always had questions like that.”
Priyanka insists the ignorance of Apu’s portrayal is only now being publicly recognized as an issue in society because minorities finally have a voice and are making themselves heard, compared to when The Simpsons first launched in 1989.
“A lot of people are talking about, ‘Oh, the show was so successful for 30 years, why are we suddenly waking up and being offended by a character that everyone loved?’,” she said. “What happened from that time to now, the population of Indian Americans has tripled. So the voice is louder. Representation for people of colour is louder. There’s the Internet and the media, where people can have a conversation.”
As a result, the actress insists The Simpsons creators should listen to the uproar and modernise their show to reflect the changing times.
Concluding her argument, she added, “So I think, yes, it is a time where, why try to erase stereotype? Yes, it is a cartoon. Yes, it’s a pop culturally (sic) super successful show. But that gives it more responsibility. It’s out of date on so many levels.”