Shepard praised Azaria’s reaction to everything that led to comedian Hari Kondabolu thanking him. Kondabolus’ documentary “The Problem with Apu” premiered in 2017 and viewed the character as a negative, stereotypical representation of South Asians.
Nahasapeemapetilon, a heavily accented Indian-American character, runs the Kwik-E-Mart supermarket in the fictional town of Springfield.
“The point is not to congratulate me on the answer because I have a large part in creating the problem initially,” Azaria said on the podcast. “So nothing takes that away, except maybe some improvement over time that I try to make.”
Azaria said that while he was speaking at his son’s school he was talking to Indian students “because I wanted their contributions”.
A 17-year-old who had never seen “The Simpsons” still knew about the Apu character Azaria.
“It’s practically an arch at this point,” he said. “He only knows that his people are thought of that and that they are represented for many people in this country.”
Azaria said that the young man was getting emotional and asked the actor to share the message that such characters have consequences.
“I really apologize. It’s important,” said Azaria. “I apologize for my part in making this and being part of it. Part of me feels like I have to go to every single Indian person in this country and apologize personally. And sometimes, too.”
Azaria still appeals to characters like Moe Szyslak in “The Simpsons,” but is now a major proponent of converting color actors into language characters.