Over the past several weeks, ever since the animated comedy made reference to the idea that the Indian Kwik-E-Mart owner character is offensive, there has been ample backlash and online discussion.
In the April 8 episode, Marge tried to remove any references that could offend anyone from a children’s book she had bought. She reads the book to Lisa, who finds it boring.
“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect,” said Lisa, turning toward a picture of Apu that had the words “Don’t Have A Cow” inscribed on it. “What can you do?”
“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” replied Marge.
“If at all,” says Lisa.
Now Groening has spoken up in a recent interview with USA Today, when asked if he has anything to say about the problem.
“Not really,” he said. “I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.”
When asked what Lisa and Marge’s conversation meant in the episode, he simply retorted: “We’ll let the show speak for itself.”
Groening also noted that when the show began, audiences were often shocked by Bart and his then-vulgar remarks.
“I felt that the controversy at the beginning of the show was, again, people pretending to be offended by Bart’s very mild sassiness. I knew it would blow over,” he said.
The question of Apu’s offensiveness was brought to the forefront when Hari Kondabolu, an Indian stand-up comic from New York, made a documentary (The Problem With Apu) about how the character was used to bully him as he was growing up. For all of his output on the topic, Kondabolu doesn’t seem to be pretending.
He responded to Groening’s dismissal of the issue on Monday.
This past weekend, The Simpsons overtook the record for the most episodes of a scripted primetime series, surpassing Gunsmoke with its 636th episode. Since the show started airing in 1989, it has garnered more than 30 Emmy Awards.
Groening has a new animated series, Disenchantment, coming to Netflix at some point this year.