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Cancel culture strikes again and kills Apu from ‘The Simpsons’ – where does this nonsense end?

Zachary Leeman
Zachary Leeman

is the author of the novel Nigh and journalist who covers art and culture. He has previously written for outlets such as Breitbart, LifeZette, and BizPac Review among others. Follow him on Twitter @WritingLeeman

is the author of the novel Nigh and journalist who covers art and culture. He has previously written for outlets such as Breitbart, LifeZette, and BizPac Review among others. Follow him on Twitter @WritingLeeman

Cancel culture strikes again and kills Apu from ‘The Simpsons’ – where does this nonsense end?
Cancel culture has shown its ugly face once again, claiming another victim, this time one of the cartoon variety. Actor Hank Azaria has announced that he will no longer voice convenience store owner Apu of the ‘The Simpsons.’

Azaria announced the decision this week and said it was one made with the producers of the show. The seeming abandonment of the character follows accusations of racism in recent years, which hit a peak after the documentary ‘The Problem with Apu,’ which debuted in 2017. Critics argued Apu played into offensive stereotypes about South Asians — ignoring other stereotypes on the show. Also ignored was the fact Apu has become not ‘cartoonish,’ but a three dimensional, complex character playing a central part of the series since debuting in 1990.

Many fans of ‘The Simpsons’ have responded negatively to the news of Apu’s seeming cancellation. Even the filmmaker behind the ‘Problem with Apu’ documentary jokingly welcomed the “death threats” to come, and said he would like to see the character continue.

‘The Simpsons’ had previously responded to accusations of racism by poking fun at the controversy in its show — which earned them plenty of criticism — but it appears they have caved to online pressure. Could it have anything to do with Fox being bought out by the always play-it-safe Disney?

There is a growing problem among people who let trending social issues and always-changing “woke” standards take up too much real estate in their heads, and that is a deep misunderstanding about the way art works. Context and nuance are becoming irrelevant to critics, who are simply hungry for anything to be angry about.

The end goal of this anger is unclear, but the journey to that doomsday finale is that many things need to simply be destroyed.

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Luckily, Azaria voices a variety of characters on ‘The Simpsons,’ and won’t be going anywhere, but what if Apu was his sole voice work on the series? Be gone with you, sir! This is cancel culture, and we have no time for such trivial details!

It really doesn’t take much these days to anger social justice warriors surfing the internet for any small out of context detail to be triggered by — they have basically replaced the cancel culture once promoted by the far-right Christians, who found just about everything offensive.

The problem with this faux outrage is there are no layers to it. For instance, Apu is an Indian character who played into stereotypes for comedy’s sake, but the same can be said for any character on a comedy like ‘The Simpsons.’ Willie the groundskeeper is a crazy Scotsman with an over-exaggerated accent. Homer Simpson is a hard-drinking, clumsy New England father. Comic Book Guy is a judgmental, lonely pop culture geek. 

But when the actual storytelling kicks in, all of these characters, including Apu, are given three dimensional backgrounds that turn them into far more than the simple stereotypes we first see. Apu had entire episodes dedicated to his life and backstory, including the reveal that he actually possesses a PhD but prefers his convenience store because of the interactions with his customers and friends. 

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But such things don’t matter in a world where a movie about British mobsters can literally be called racist because its main characters shockingly say some not-so-nice things. 

We are headed to a place where storytelling and creators need to be so fearful of a faceless mob suddenly labeling them hateful and threatening their livelihood that they will give in to demands that don’t make a whole lot of sense when looked at with the attention such things typically need. 

Cancel culture is alive and well unfortunately, and it appears like there will be no satisfaction until the culture altogether is cancelled and honest interactions between people, especially through art, become extinct. 

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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