The topic of whether or not Hank Azaria, a non-Indian, doing a stereotypical Indian accent to portray Indian character Apu on The Simpsons
is racist or not has been discussed quite a bit online. I've read these articles plus a few more and I tend to think it certainly smacks of racism. Indeed, this comedy sketch
, which I saw years ago and makes the point that doing an Indian accent for the sake of comedy is racism, was the first thing that popped into my head when considering the issue. In some ways I think it's actually a form of blackface, which is most assuredly racist (even if you're of Indian descent). And I'm certain that if Azaria put on black make up and did the Apu voice there would be outrage, so I can't see why it's not racist to just do the voice and put provide it for an animation.
In discussing this with my wife, she also saw the argument that it's racist, but she provided a good counterpoint in that Sam Worthington or Hugh Jackman could therefore also be called racists. Both actors are Australians who have imitated an American accent to portray American characters. If Azaria is to be considered a racist for faking an accent of a country they're not from, why arent Worthington or Jackman or countless others? And in the same vein (and as some of the articles I linked above mention), why is the depiction of Groundskeeper Willy on The Simpsons
not racist if Apu is?
I consider myself a fairly left wing, liberal sort of guy. And even though my gut is telling me that Azaria's portryal of Apu smacks of racism, I'm still having a hard time reconciling these two positions and I'd like some guidance. What's the prevailing wisdom here? Has Azaria ever commented on this issue (my Google-fu says no, which is probably understandable)? Help me understand.