Apu Nahasapeemapetilon giving a statue of Ganesha some Yoo-Hoo on a platter

The Simpsons/Simpsonworld

Man opens up about what it’s like to have a parent like Apu from ‘The Simpsons’

Amar Shah encourages watchers of the 'The Simpsons' to actually talk to an Indian man who owns a gas station.

 

Tess Cagle

Streaming

Published Apr 10, 2018   Updated May 21, 2021, 7:00 pm CDT

On Monday, The Simpsons was put on blast by viewers for its apology—or, lack thereof—for its stereotypical depiction of Apu, the Indian Kwik-E-Mart owner. While fans continue to argue about whether Apu’s stereotypical characterization is politically incorrect or inoffensive, one Twitter user detailed what it’s actually like to grow up with a dad like Apu.  

Featured Video Hide

The Simpsons originally came under fire when comedian Hari Kondabolu released his documentary The Problem With Apu, in which he details the legacy of Apu and how South Asian actors longed for better representation. On Sunday, the TV show seemingly responded to the controversy by brushing it off as “politically incorrect” and insinuated there were no plans to acknowledge or apologize for its misrepresentation of Indians.

Advertisement Hide

In the days following the original airing of the episode, fans online haven’t let up on sharing and discussing their own perceptions of Apu, launching the topic into one of the most widespread conversations about cultural appropriation and representation of minorities in media. While some folks argue that the point of the show is to make digs at cultural stereotypes in the United States, others say it’s not unreasonable to ask the show to update its rhetoric with the times.

But one man—Amar Shah—wants viewers to understand that this issue goes beyond the vague discussions about the theories of political correctness or stereotypes—this is an issue that affects real life people. Shah published a long thread on Twitter detailing what it was like to grow up with an Indian dad who owned and worked in a gas station.

Advertisement Hide

Shah begins by giving the history of his father, who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 17 and tells how his father worked hard to climb the ladder of success.

Advertisement Hide

And then Shah described—in stunning detail—the day-to-day life of growing up. He shares his experiences of doing his homework in the cooler, getting bullied by his classmates who made the “inevitable Apu joke,” and watching his dad ignore racist remarks because he was “after something bigger.”

Advertisement Hide

Advertisement Hide

Advertisement Hide

Advertisement Hide

After describing his life, he drives home the point of his tweet thread: the issue of Apu is more than just about a stereotype, it’s about the real people who experience this way of life who often get forgotten in the midst of a mainstream debate.

Advertisement Hide

Dozens of people have responded to Shah’s thread—including Kondabalu—and thanked him for sharing his story.

Advertisement Hide

https://twitter.com/zuhrsss/status/983607569401839616

Advertisement Hide

Shah’s story is an important reminder to people to talk to other people from different walks of life. Stereotypes and misrepresentation become perpetuated when viewers stay inside their own bubbles, rather than actually communicating with people from diverse backgrounds. Perhaps The Simpsons could learn a thing or two about the nuances of character development by sitting down with people like Shah.

Share this article
*First Published: Apr 10, 2018, 7:09 pm CDT