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The Simpsons – Apu Controversy Addressed

This is a scene from The Simpsons, the longest running animated series on television. The scene writers wanted to respond to the controversy raised after the release of the documentary “The Problem with Apu”, that pointed out the racism of the show’s depiction of convenience-store owner Apu. In this episode, Marge introduces Lisa to her favorite childhood book, but is shocked to realize it uses racist stereotypes and attempts to rewrite it to suit modern sensitivities. Lisa is bored by this revised version, and Marge asks what she should do. We then see the scene above, where Lisa replies “It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” She then looks at a picture of Apu with “Don’t have a cow, man” written on it, and the two characters say that the issue will be dealt with later, if at all. Many viewers were upset by this dismissive response, and particularly the choice to have Lisa dismiss racism, a character who has repeatedly self-identified with social justice issues such as feminism, environmentalism, and animal rights.


What happens in this scene?

Do you think they handled the issue of racism appropriately? 

Do you think Lisa was the appropriate character to dismiss the issue? 

Do you think caring about feminism, environmentalism, or animal rights always means people are invested in anti-racism work? Should it?

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