Matt Groening has insisted he is “proud” of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the controversial South Asian character from “The Simpsons” accused of being a racist stereotype.
“I think the Apu stories are fantastic, and he’s one of the most nuanced characters on a silly two-dimensional cartoon show,” the show’s creator Groening told USA Today of the show’s Indian-American Kwik-E-Mart shopkeeper.
“So, yeah, I’m proud of Apu,” he insisted.
“We’ve got plans for Apu, but we have to see if we can make the stories work … We’re working on something kind of ambitious. That’s all I can say,” he teased fans in the interview.
The 67-year-old cartoonist told the paper that he was “trying not to open up another chasm of criticism” in defending the character accused of reflecting racist stereotypes while voiced by a white actor.
“But it doesn’t matter what I say. I’ll get it anyway,” Groening conceded.
The show’s creator said it was not his idea to no longer have white actors voicing non-white characters — including Hank Azaria stepping down from portraying Apu — but he said he was “fine with it.”
“Who can be against diversity? So it’s great,” he said, while stressing that the show had hired “brilliant actors who can do multiple voices” rather than just “to play specific characters.”
“That’s part of the fun of animation. However, to be more inclusive and hire more people, I’m completely in favor of that,” he said.
He appeared to have a dig at the rise in woke critics when asked if it would “have been better to hire a more diverse cast years ago.”
“Yeah. And I hear they want to take the guns away from Yosemite Sam. He’s a little hot-headed,” Groening quipped.