Priyanka Chopra says she was bullied as a child because of Apu on The Simpsons
The 'Quantico' and Bollywood movie star weighed in on the controversy.
Quantico star Priyanka Chopra has strong feelings about the controversial character Apu from The Simpsons.
“He was the bane of my life growing up,” the 35-year-old Indian actress and Bollywood movie star said on The View on Thursday. “I was always asked when I was in high school — like at 14, 15 — why I didn’t speak like that or… did I find gold in my rivers? Did we go to school on elephants,” she told the talk-show hosts. “I always had questions like that.”
Apu has long been seen as a racist stereotype of South Asian people, most notably in a truTV documentary from comedian Hari Kondabolu called The Problem with Apu. The Simpsons aired an episode in April, “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” that attempted to address this problem, but it ultimately served to reignite the issue.
Statements from The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean and series creator Matt Groening ruffled feathers even further. Apu voice actor Hank Azaria then said he was willing to “step aside” from the character.
“A lot of people are talking about, ‘Oh, the show was so successful for 30 years; why are we suddenly waking up and being offended by a character that everyone loved?’” Chopra said. “People say that The Simpsons makes fun of every race.” While she admitted that’s true, she argued that Apu long served as the only Indian representation on American TV, and that much as changed since the show premiered in 1989.
“What happened from that time to now, the population of Indian-Americans in America has tripled since that time,” she said. “So the voice is louder, representation and the demand for representation for people of color is louder. There is the internet and the media where people can have a conversation.”
Now, Apu seems “out of date.”
“Yes, it’s a cartoon. Yes, it’s a pop culturally super successful show,” she concluded. “But that gives it more responsibility.”
Watch Chopra’s full comments in the clip above, beginning at the 4:40 mark.