Thank Grog It’s Firday!
As a long time Simpsons fan, I found myself in the unenviable place of being a “talking head” on a “hot topic” and not making myself completely clear during the last “Addicts Live.” If I was running for an elected office, I’d be toast. However, at the ripe old age of 64 10/12th old, I can assure you that I have undeniably said and done things that would/should have eliminated me from ever holding a public office. Of course, the rules of comportment and decency in public office have changed drastically. And that, in a sense, is exactly what I am writing about today.
I am angered by reports of Apu being removed from the Simpsons. There are myriad stories around this, none of them clear. The primary reason, is that those in charge at Gracie and Fox are pretty much taking a “we already handled this” approach to the whole controversy that has erupted around the documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” without actually handling it!
Look…I get it. Apu could be seen as a derogatory character in his portrayal of Indian American citizens. But, of all of the characters that we have in the game (most of whom are equally or more insensitive to a wide range of ethnicities and sexual orientations) Apu is one of the actual success stories. He is a proud business owner, who constantly “has one over” on the folks of Springfield. If you don’t think feeding Springfieldians overpriced junk food, Squishies and roller-hot dogs are revenge for their disrespect, then you haven’t read the latest health reports. But, more important, he is a first-generation American, who through his immigration and establishment as an entrepreneur, has done far more to bring praise upon his culture, than countless other “Born in the USA” lunkheads on the show and in our game.
Rather than just “write him out slowly,” which in a sense locks him and his family up in some sort of static purgatory, they had a far better option. They could have done an entire episode, revealing his back-story as a successful person in India, who actually wanted all of the benefits that America has to offer, and sacrificed it all to be here. An immigrant success story worth telling!
Apu is a fictitious character, but because he has been allowed to become an object of derision by lesser-minded bigots, and those who would exploit their own beliefs to make a buck, he has taken on a life that could and should be used as an example to others. Instead, the show runners, and “ownership” have taken a tact this is cowardly, small-minded, and un-creative (much like the last Treehouse of Horror Episode).
My part in this was taking the wrong approach, and not looking at the larger problems of racism and political cultural divide in our country, before shooting off my mouth at the loss (or disappearance) of a beloved figure. I’m bummed…but, not just at the loss, but how that loss transpired, as well as its greater ramifications.
In no way shape or form, was I saying, “Hey! We are all too sensitive these days! Get Over It!!” But I did say, “This is the Simpsons! They make fun of everybody!” Which when I read it, can easily be misconstrued, and in fact weaponized by those with a “less than empathetic approach” to the current political climate.
There is simply no doubt about it…this is dangerous stuff. And, being specific about your feelings when taking on someone who is pointing out inferred cultural harm, is an absolute imperative. Does Hari Kondabolu have the right to his opinion as to whether Apu is harmful to his cultural heritage? Certainly.
But, I would argue once again, that Apu is actually one of the most successful, steady, characters on the entire show, which seems to be missed in Hari’s documentary altogether.
But, as an American, he has the right to his opinion. And the “slippery slope” that we can encounter when we start singling out those whose feelings are hurt (or “butt hurt” as some like to say), is missing the danger in disregarding other’s feelings and opinions.
Yes. This is a political and moral topic. And this is a blog about a cartoon show. However, we opened the can of worms on our “Addicts Live” broadcast, and to ignore it now, would be no better than the way the creators just swept it all under the Persian rug.
You don’t think this is a “slippery slope” situation? Let’s take the term, “Snowflake,” which has become a popular way for extreme segments of the “Right” to deride those who espouse political correctness, or for that matter, simple civility, in politics. If someone doesn’t agree that our President should have the right to speak any way he chooses, and be in a state of “constant attack,” and playing loose with facts (yes, I could go on and on), they are labeled a “Snowflake.”
However, in the past two weeks, we have seen what happens when extremists become emboldened by rhetoric and “group think,” to the point where rational thought and action are thrown to the wind, and innocent lives are lost. It isn’t hard to draw a straight line from fiery, inflammatory rhetoric (some would argue as just thoughtless, mean-spirited words) to uncivil violence that threatens to place countless Americans in harm’s way through acts of bigotry, intolerance and political extremism.
This kind of behavior must be exposed, and rendered both impractical and unacceptable from both sides. Playing “fire with fire” only leaves scorched, unusable territory. Those who “give bullies a pass” because it makes their team feel empowered, are no better than the bullies. Those who would accept any argument that one race, one religion or one sexual orientation is “lesser than” and deserving of derision and prejudice, might just as well be handing the weapons to these feeble-minded zealots.
But even worse, standing by and not dealing with a problem head on, makes you just as culpable. It starts with having the courage to use your voice to do the right thing. Instead of shying away, or even worse, just ignoring the problem, The Simpsons writers, show runners, and producers owe Apu a far better outcome than simply being banished. Nobody wins there. No lessons are learned. And the arguments from both sides gain momentum by the perceived apathy of those who should know better.
This world is becoming less civil, and less empathetic every day. Every election cycle has devolved further into blood sport, with the “winner” not being held accountable for how they got there, or what they will do in office. Even worse, politics has become the new religion, and nothing is more dangerous than those who follow blindly, in defiance of facts or culpability. It takes courage to do the right thing. It is cowardice to turn away, when something could be done.
Apu should be a hero. Apu should be an example to every American, that hard work, and dedication to family are to be celebrated, no matter what your culture, religion, or skin color.
“Disappearing” Apu is a travesty and a tragedy. Bring back Apu…you feckless, cowards.
Oh. And VOTE! It is your right. It is your chance to let your opinion be heard. Tune out the clutter. Tune out the mayhem…and DO something that matters.
And This JUST IN… some friends from across the pond have the same opinion I do about Apu…and they are Indian!
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So…everyone seems to want Apu…except for one comedian, and the gutless showrunners.