Sunday Matinee: The Problem With Apu [Film]

I have to be completely honesty and upfront here, right from the very beginning. I am claiming ignorance. I honestly did not know that this was an issue, or that there could be a problem with Apu. I always had an inkling that the idea of every 7/11 in the 90’s was owned or operator by a turban wearing man from India or the middle east was a little bit racist, but I had honestly always attributed this to being a “city thing” that I just wasn’t aware of. And above it all, I was too naive and a bit dimwitted to not realize that Apu was a seriously overdramatized version of a whole group of people, which is indeed problematic, and yes, racist. But hey, at least it was voiced by an Indian actor, right!? Right? Well……

This documentary is an absolutely brilliant take on a subject that is almost too sensitive to touch. And I’m not even talking about race. I’m talking about the mother-loving Simpsons! The Simpsons have been the golden standard for long-lasting comedy for the last 30 years, and it is obviously a very touchy subject to “attack” (parenthesis because it’s not actually happening, keep reading). But what comedian Hari Kondabolu has brought us with The Problem With Apu is a very unique and positive take on the possibility of change in a complicit industry that has left its stain on even the holiest of holy products like The Simpsons.

Again, I do not feel in the slightest that Kondabolu is attacking The Simpsons. He is simply stating the facts about his and other’s experience as an Indian person growing up in America during a time where the only representation of his people was an over dramatized typecast in animated form. He praises the show for its originality and deserved acclaim, but he simply recommends something that might make the show better for society. Which, in my opinion, is an extremely humbling god damned thing to do! I will admit, if I grew up being called Apu on a daily basis, I probably wouldn’t be nearly as kind on a subject matter. There are many reasons why Hari Kondabolu is a better person than I, but this is a big one!

And even looking beyond the potential impact and changes that a film like The Problem with Apu could bring, I feel as though it is important to note that this film is extremely well made! It is a documentary that hits all of the appropriate highs and lows and examines all applicable frustrations in a brilliant manner. Kondabolu has shown as much promise in the world of documentary filmmaking as he has in his work as a comic, and he has created something brilliant with The Problem with Apu that sends a very strong message, and should rightfully be enjoyed by all.

But, let’s be honest, this is America we are talking about, so rather than trying to be understanding, people are going to shit all over it before, or without even, seeing it for themselves. But, for those of you who can make the effort to both learn from and enjoy something, this is the perfect film for you.

The Problem with Apu premieres tonight on truTV at 10 p.m. ET. Check out the trailer here:

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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