The executive producer and showrunner of Fox's longest-running cartoon sitcom The Simpsons engaged with Twitter after backlash from last Sunday's episode involving the racial profiling of the character, Apu.
In response to online debates, Jean tweeted on Friday, "I truly appreciate all the responses pro and con. Will continue to try and find an answer that is popular & more important right."
.@TheSimpsons I truly appreciate all responses pro and con. Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right— Al Jean (@Al Jean)1523637942.0
During the episode titled, "No Good Read Goes Unpunished," the show addressed the ethnic stereotyping of recurring character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – the Indian-American proprietor of Kwik-E-Mart – through a line delivered by Lisa as Marge read her a bedtime story.
Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?
The focus shifted to a closeup of a framed picture of Apu with the words, "Don't have a cow!" scrawled on it.
Marge responded with:
Some things will be dealt with at a later date.
To which Lisa added, "If at all."
‘The Simpsons’ Responded To The Renewed Apu Controversy And People Aren’t Too Happy About It On Sunday’s episode o… https://t.co/qSJgAEEHIt— Pop Culture Brain (@Pop Culture Brain)1523302385.0
The controversy surrounding the portrayal of Apu dates back to 2017 when comedian Hari Kondabolu made a criticism of the character's portrayal in a documentary called, The Problem with Apu.
Kodabolu was disappointed with the show's attempt to placate frustrated viewers with the scene, saying, "Wow. Politically Incorrect?' That's the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad."
Wow. “Politically Incorrect?” That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved th… https://t.co/BSGtBOK72G— Hari Kondabolu (@Hari Kondabolu)1523249108.0
A devoted fan offered a solution for the showrunner. Tom Brennan, a producer and marvel comic editor, wrote,
Hey, Mr. Jean - huge fan of The Critic here and long time Simpsons fan. I appreciate you're probably under a ton of stress on this. The solution seems pretty simple to me: bring in a group of Indian creators and completely re-develop this character. The issue isn't just the stereotype. It's that I'm betting this character has not historically had a lot of creative input from people who intimately understand his ethnic and religious background - both of which are key components to the character.
@AlJean @TheSimpsons Hey, Mr. Jean - huge fan of The Critic here and long time Simpsons fan. I appreciate you're pr… https://t.co/VyD0Tab0PB— Tom Brennan (@Tom Brennan)1523654550.0
@AlJean @TheSimpsons ...the stereotype. It's that I'm betting this character has not historically had a lot of crea… https://t.co/iqNx1JVpAT— Tom Brennan (@Tom Brennan)1523654680.0
Jean was challenged by users over the racial controversy.
@AlJean @TheSimpsons Through Lisa you guys describe Apu's character as once "applauded and inoffensive" but now "po… https://t.co/bug2qweKZo— RJ (@RJ)1523640085.0
Jean tweeted in another tweet, "For those who'd ask why Lisa would defend Apu: he's her friend. He taught her to be vegan. She admires him."
.@TheSimpsons For those who'd ask why Lisa would defend Apu: he's her friend. He taught her to be vegan. She admires him.— Al Jean (@Al Jean)1523603225.0
Jean also shared an article that was "Pro-Apu,"
And finally https://t.co/MKRsYYN0KH— Al Jean (@Al Jean)1523598826.0
But he was immediately criticized for sharing the article legitimizing the issue. "99% of the press you got was bad. But you shared the one that agreed with you," wrote a commentator. "That's like fox news showing one black guy waving a confederate flag. You shared an article from the national review...obviously they are the forefront of racial equality and representation. Resign."
@AlJean 99% of the press you got was bad. But you shared the one that agreed with you. That's like fox news showing… https://t.co/pJbQqCT0l8— Amer Naik (@Amer Naik)1523599288.0
Jean responded by referencing Kondabolu's documentary, "The Problem With Apu got a 4.6 on imdb. Does that mean it's worthless? No I think there were valid points made."
@amernaik "The Problem With Apu" got a 4.6 on imdb. Does that mean it's worthless? No I think there were valid points made.— Al Jean (@Al Jean)1523602643.0
His endless interaction with Twitter exhibits his genuine care for the character and the spirit of debate.
Can't wait to see what's on my twitter account today!— Al Jean (@Al Jean)1523492516.0