ATR 76 – Apu from The Simpsons – 07/24/2007 – Submit an Audio Comment: 206-203-3983

Carmen and Manish Viij discuss the way 7-Eleven is turning some of its stores into real-life Kwik-E Marts to promote the new Simpsons movie. In order to do this, however, they have also taken the very stereotypical Indian-American character Apu and brought him into the real world.

Manish Viij co-founded two widely-read South Asian American blogs for arts and politics, Ultrabrown and Sepia Mutiny. He also wrote for on one of the earliest South Asian American ‘zines, Hum (Us). Vij’s work has been published in Salon, a large Guardian (UK) blog and Time Out Mumbai. He’s working on a debut literary novel about Brooklyn and Bombay. Vij’s day job is as a software entrepreneur, and he’s a graduate of UC Berkeley.

Here are links to some items mentioned during the episode:

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Duration – 26:30
File Size – 10.9 MB
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4 thoughts on “ATR 76 – Apu from The Simpsons – 07/24/2007 – Submit an Audio Comment: 206-203-3983”

  1. Great episode. Manish Viij’s comparison of the young Indian inspired to work at 711 & Aunt Jemima was brilliant in my mind. I don’t know any Black women in the United States who are or were ever inspired by mammy characters. Manish’s point on that really brought it home for me.

    When I first heard about the Apu character being promoted at 711′s I had a visceral reaction of dislike. Thanks to this ATR episode I have even more background & can search even deeper into my own stereotypes about SE Asians. Thanks!

  2. Good show as usual. Being an obsessive Simpsons fan, though, I thought I’d clarify a couple of points about Apu’s characterization in the show. Manish describes Apu as “excessively fertile,” having eight or ten children. He does have that many kids, but it was because of excessive use of fertility drugs (they were all born at once), not excessive virility.

    As for the mockery of Hinduism, it’s usually Homer who mocks Apu’s religion, and I think it’s pretty clear that the joke is not that Hinduism is stupid, but that Homer is stupid. But I can definitely see how it could be taken another way.

    Anyway, the show definitely gave me cause to think about issues in the show that normally wouldn’t occur to me in the context of the Simpsons, since I’ve been watching the show since I was Bart’s age and thus it all seems normal to me by now. Shows like the Simpsons definitely walk a fine line between mocking the idea of stereotypes and mocking the people who’re being stereotyped.

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