Hank Azaria is on an apology tour these days. The actor feels that he needs to make amends to every one of the more than a billion Indians in the world for his stereotypical portrayal of an Indian man on The Simpsons.
For more than 30 years Hank Azaria voiced the local owner of the Springield Kwiki Mart Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. This was just one of the many characters voiced by Hank Azaria on the show. But before this, The Simpsons’ 32nd year on the air, the show’s producers decided to retire the character because it had become politically incorrect.
The character of Apu was based on the fact that many 7/11 type convenience stores in America are operated by Indian and Pakistani immigrants. Apu was one of the most beloved characters on the show. His Hindu religion was portrayed respectfully and viewers were given glimpses into his family life. But people felt that there was something about the character’s voice which made him a borderline racist characterization.
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Hank Azaria was also forced to give up voicing the black character Carl because he is not himself a black person. Unlike Apu, however, Carl was not retired from the show. New African American actor was hired to portray him.
People often ask if I use the Brockmire voice to narrate my everyday activities. Here’s your answer. Thanks @NewYorker https://t.co/clO805umoI
— Hank Azaria (@HankAzaria) April 12, 2021
This change did not only apply to the Simpsons. Scarlett Johansson was forced to back out of a movie deal to play a Trans person because she is not Trans. And now Gal Gadot is being criticized for being cast as Cleopatra in a new movie because she is neither Egyptian nor Black. Never mind that neither was Cleopatra herself as she descended from Greeks who occupied Egypt under Alexander the Great.
Somehow the insistence that animated actors only be voiced by people of the same race or ethnicity, that historical figures only be played by people of kind as well, does not apply to Jewish characters. No one balked when Eddie Murphy once again portrayed a stereotypical old Jewish man in his new movie “Coming 2 America.”
Hank Azaria’s apologies came in an installment of actor Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast. The installment was co-hosted by Monica Padman, who is Indian American.
“Part of me feels like I need to go around to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize,” said Azaria. He added that he had, “read, spoke to people who knew a lot about racism, spoke to lots of Indian people and went to seminars.”
Deep, deep, deep episode with my friend Hank Azaria @hankazaria. It was really helpful for me to chat openly about a program Hank works much harder and better than myself. So many insights and a thousand laughs. I loved this. https://t.co/xrmQ3jTegT pic.twitter.com/oED95pSwnI
— dax shepard (@daxshepard) April 12, 2021
“I realized I have had a date with destiny with this thing for 31 years,” said Azaria as he confessed to being guilty of being privileged. “I really didn’t know any better. I didn’t think about it. I was unware how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens. Just because there were good intentions it doesn’t mean there weren’t real negative consequences to the thing that I am accountable for.”
Apparently Hank Azaria agrees with all of the people who think that White Middle Class Americans should feel guilty about and apologize for not being a minority ethnic group. Apparently no one told Azaria that Jews are one of the smallest minority groups in America.
“I really do apologize. I know you weren’t asking for that but it’s important. I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels I need to go round to every single Indian person in this country and apologize.”
Someone will soon start a contest challenging people to count how many times Hank Azaria said the word sorry or apologize in the interview.