Priyanka Chopra is adding her voice to the backlash against The Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
While appearing on The View, the Indian actress, who lived in the States as a teenager, said that “he was the bane of my life growing up.” She explained: “I was always asked when I was in high school at 14, 15, why I didn’t speak like that. Or are my parents doctors (which they are)? Did I find gold in my rivers? Did I go to school on elephants? I always had questions like that.” She eventually moved back to India her senior year of high school.
Apu’s stereotyped character came under fire last year when comedian Hari Kondabolu released his documentary, The Problem With Apu. The conversation came back up last month when The Simpsons addressed the controversy with what many felt was a dismissive shrug. Hank Azria, who voices Apu on the show, recently said that he is happy to step aside from playing the character. Some, though, still aren’t willing to let the character go, citing that he's been around for too long. Chopra explained why that’s not a valid excuse, stating: “A lot of people are talking about, ‘Oh, the show was so successful for 30 years, why are we suddenly waking up and being offended by a character that everyone loved?’”
The difference today is that people have platforms available to them to speak out. “What happened from that time to now, the population of Indian Americans has tripled,” she said. “So the voice is louder. Representation for people of color is louder. There’s the Internet and the media, where people can have a conversation.”
At the end of the day, the characters need to evolve with the times. “Yes, it is a cartoon. Yes, it’s a pop culturally super successful show,” Chopra says. “But that gives it more responsibility. It’s out of date on so many levels.” Watch her full interview, below.