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‘Brown face is a problem’: How Apu from The Simpsons fuels bullying, according to a media expert

Hank Azaria, the actor behind the voice of The Simpsons character Apu, last week announced that he will no longer be voicing the controversial figure.

His decision comes in response to mounting pressure to discontinue the character over racial stereotyping, which had been building since the 2017 release of documentary The Problem With Apu.

Media and Culture Lecturer at the University of Wollongong Dr Sukhmani Khorana, welcomed the move and addressed the concerns about Apu’s characterisation.

“What seems to have caused the most offence is the fact that the brown face … was voiced by a white person, and it is a thick and exaggerated accent, which is not necessarily true,” Dr Khorana said.

“Brown face, like black face, is a problem because it’s an exaggeration of the truth.”

Dr Khorana said stereotypes can cause particular harm for young people, fuelling bullying.

“The problem arises when you think about the impact it has on young South Asian people,” she said.

“If the media tells you that someone is different, and it’s okay to pick on them because they’re different, a bully is going to pick up on that.

“When it starts to hurt people that’s when you have a problem.”

Tom argued that exaggeration is what The Simpsons does to everybody, including Australians.

“Apu is not the root cause of bullying… getting rid of Apu won’t stop bullying,” the 3AW Drive host said.

Click PLAY to hear the full interview.

Image (at top): Fox/The Simpsons