The Simpsons creator Matt Groening brushed off criticism of his Indian cartoon character, Apu, in a recent interview, hinting that he thinks people are just ginning up fake outrage over the long-running cartoon show.
Speaking to USA Today, Groening said he stands by his show and scoffed at people searching for the next thing to be outraged about.
“I’m proud of what we do on the show,” Groening told the paper. “And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.”
The Apu character, the owner of The Simpsons local convenience store, Kwik-E-Mart, has become controversial being described as stereotypical and insulting to Indians and other minorities.
Comedian Hari Kondabolu, who wrote the documentary “The Problem With Apu,” is advocating for marginalized groups and criticizing how they are represented in pop culture. The comedian’s activism recently brought the longest-running prime-time TV show in history to make a joke in response to the backlash about how Apu is being attacked.
Kondabolu was not impressed by the Simpsons effort.
“In ‘The Problem with Apu,’ I used Apu and The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups,” Kondabolu recently tweeted after the cartoon made a joke about how Apu is being attacked. “The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.”
When USA Today asked Groening about how the show addressed the controversy, he simply replied, “We’ll let the show speak for itself.”
The controversy over Apu led to the actor who voices Apu, Hank Azaria, to suggest that he would stop lending his voice to the character.
“I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel, how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it [is],” Azaria said on CBS’s The Late Show With Stephen Colbert last week.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.