May 2, 2018 12:33 pm
Updated: May 5, 2018 7:42 pm

Have a solution for ‘The Simpsons’ Apu problem? This contest is for you

Critics of "The Simpsons" are now pushing for a crowdsourced cure to one of the show's most popular characters. As Reid Fiest reports, they're trying to fix the problem with Apu.

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There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for The SimpsonsApu character controversy, but now there’s an opportunity for one lucky fan to possibly solve the problem once and for all.

Filmmaker Adi Shankar (he was producer on movies like The Grey and Lone Survivor) is looking to crowdsource a “cure” for the Apu issue — that the character is stereotypical, racist and offensive to Indian people.

WATCH: ‘The Simpsons’ addresses the Apu issue in its April 8 episode. 


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On Tuesday, Shankar announced a screenwriting contest, saying The Simpsons is “sick”; he’s looking for a screenplay centring around Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

READ MORE: Matt Groening breaks silence on ‘Simpsons’ Apu controversy

He specifically wants a 21-to-23-page screenplay that “takes the character of Apu and in a clever way subverts him, pivots him, intelligently writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a mean spirited mockery and transforms him into a kernel of truth wrapped in funny insight aka actual satire.”

“This contest is open to people of all ethnicities and cultures, however, if you don’t have any experience with Indian culture in America then you may not have the perspective and experience to write well on this topic,” the submission instructions state.

There is no entry fee, and the judging group is comprised of “South Asians and other minorities who work in entertainment.”

After Shankar and the judges decide on the winning script, he promises to take it to Fox and the Simpsons writers’ room to try and make it an official episode in the upcoming season. They also plan to recommend the writer be hired for the duration of the season.

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If the Simpsons writers’ room rejects the episode, then Shankar himself will “finance the winning script and produce it as an unofficial fan film that looks identical to an official Simpsons episode.”

The contest closes on June 30.

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.

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Hank Azaria, the voice of Apu, said that he would step aside if need be, and longtime Simpsons producer Al Jean promised to “find an answer” to the problem.

Series creator Matt Groening spoke up in a recent interview with USA Today, when asked if he has anything to say about the issue.

“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.”

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.

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.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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