Matt Groening Responds to Apu Controversy: "People Love to Pretend They're Offended"

Matt Groening - Getty - H 2018
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The 'Simpsons' creator spoke out about the outcries against the character.

The Simpsons creator Matt Groening has spoken out about the current controversy surrounding one of his animated show's characters, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, and claims that Springfield's resident Kwik-E-Mart owner is a stereotype of South Asian immigrants.

When asked about the tumult during an interview last week with USA Today, Groening 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 character of Apu was at the center of comedian Hari Kondabolu's truTV documentary, The Problem With Apu, which sparked the debate. Voiced by Hank Azaria since his first appearance in the eighth episode of season one, Apu was criticized for being portrayed by a white actor and featuring a stereotypical Indian accent.

The Fox show responded to the doc in a recent episode with Lisa Simpson looking at a picture of Apu and saying, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?"

That response sparked its own backlash, with Kondabolu tweeting, "Wow. 'Politically Incorrect?' That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad."

Shortly thereafter, Simpsons showrunner Al Jean promised the show would find the "right" way to address the controversy. Meanwhile, Azaria appeared on CBS' The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to say he'd be willing to "step aside" from the role.

Groening, who created the characters as a series of animated shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, told USA Today that he'd "let the show speak for itself."