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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 6:30pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply


 QUOTE:
All our views matter equally.

When the discussion surrounding #MeToo started, I saw a bunch of men looking around asking, "How has this been going on so long without someone saying anything?" and "Why is this turning up everywhere?" Meanwhile, all of my female friends were able to share a story of a time they were harassed or assaulted or worse. Every. Single. One.

To suggest that all views matter equally is to say that all views are equally informed and that all people are impacted the same way. This is just not true.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 7:09pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

From the decibel level of your voice I see little hope of a meeting of the minds.  I'll just respond as best I can and feel free to reply but without specificity and examples rather than name calling I see this as a colossal waste of time.  Nobody's saying you're not upset. I'm saying so far I don't understand why you should be any more upset than anyone else at the Simpsons.  If you want to change my mind, you're going to have to show me concrete instances of what you're talking about.

And where the Jews are concerned, it is the tenets of their religion and not their racial characteristics that receive comment.
*****
Krusty is shown to be a money-grubbing Jew who will "heartily endorse" any product or service as long as there is a buck attached to it, including products he knows will maim children and / or catch fire spontaneously.  

Christians are shown to be either holier-than-thou, sanctimonious phonies (Rev. Lovejoy) or fluffy, naive "Okly-Dokly-Do" innocents who get stepped all over (Ned, Rod and Todd Flanders).

The few times I've heard Apu's Hindu religion raised it has been as a dismissive and ignorant comment by Rev. Lovejoy (which reflects badly on him, not Apu), calling it an "other" religion, to which Apu rightly decries "there are 700 million of us" or where Homer says something derogatory like asking if Ganesha wants a peanut, which reflects badly on Homer but to which Apu reacts pretty even-handedly considering.

It is also worth mentioning that no group of Jews, police officers, Scotsmen, Democrats, Republicans, butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers have come forward to decry their representation on The Simpsons. Indians have.
*****
Just because a famous celebrity of a particular ethnicity complains doesn't mean The Simpsons goes after that group any more enthusiastically than other groups.    Similarly, just because someone famous hasn't complained from those other groups doesn't mean that The Simpsons don't go after them just as enthusiastically or moreso.

"Oh, sorry. Am I standing on your throat? Well, I happen to think you're getting plenty of air, so no. I'm staying put, right where I am. Thanks for speaking up though. See? Plenty of air."
*****
Yes, that's exactly what I was saying.  Sigh.

You don't get to decide whether they're offended.
*****
Where did I say a word about whether anyone was really offended about anything?  What I said was that Indians and Hindus have no more right to be offended than any other race / religion about the Simpsons because I do not believe they have been portrayed any worse (and arguably, they have been portrayed better than many.)  That's my belief.   If you want to change my mind, show me where Apu is treated so badly.   So far, I've heard not a single specific example.

From what I've seen, it couldn't get much worse.
*****
How many episodes of the show have you seen?  I honestly don't see Apu's portrayal as nearly as negative as the bulk of other characters on the show.  If you want to change my mind you have to give a lot more detail to Apu's heinous characterization than vague "stepandfetchit" claims. Also, telling me how insensitive and obtuse I am for not seeing how badly characterized Apu is doesn't add to the discussion.  Give me examples.  Make me understand how badly Apu is portrayed by showing me specifics. 

I'll offer this and ask you to explain why Apu's characterization is more predjucial / degrading.   There is a character who tries to game the system at every turn, who is financially irresponsible, rude, lazy, shiftless, drunken, fat, thoughtless, stupid (barely graduated HS) and has no ambitions.  His kids step all over him and very few people, if any, respect him.  His name is Homer Simpson.  Apu, on the other hand, is responsible, courteous, productive, intelligent, spiritual, family-oriented, thinks about his financial future, finished first in his class, has a plan to advance and has the respect of his peers and his family.  Besides the "stepandfetchit" complaint, what else is so negative about Apu?
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 7:36pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

To suggest that all views matter equally is to say that all views are equally informed and that all people are impacted the same way. This is just not true.
*****
This is a discussion, not a zero sum game.  If someone wants to sway my opinion they need to explain their position, not fall back on "I'm a particular race / sex / something and you aren't, therefore you can't understand because you haven't had my experience to know it." (That's what you seem to be saying, Michael... I'm not saying that's Brian's view.)  There are certainly times where the above is true and perhaps this is one of them, but there are also plenty of times where an individual  is simply overly sensitive about their own situation and too close to it to see it.   So if someone wants to truly convince me they need specificity and examples, not just "walk a mile in my moccasins."

Can you contribute to the discussion and offer something concrete on how Apu's portrayal is particularly damaging or worse than other characters?
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 8:13pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply


 QUOTE:
This is a discussion, not a zero sum game.  If someone wants to sway my opinion they need to explain their position, not fall back on "I'm a particular race / sex / something and you aren't, therefore you can't understand because you haven't had my experience to know it." (That's what you seem to be saying, Michael... I'm not saying that's Brian's view.)

That is not what I'm saying. Also, I'm not trying to convince you of anything. I'm not trying to sway your opinion. I'm just pointing out what's problematic with the statement, "All our views matter equally." It's problematic.


 QUOTE:
So if someone wants to truly convince me they need specificity and examples, not just "walk a mile in my moccasins."

The idea that other people need to convince you of their truth is also problematic. But a hilarious source of the "Change My Mind" memes.


 QUOTE:
Can you contribute to the discussion and offer something concrete on how Apu's portrayal is particularly damaging or worse than other characters?

Sure. Go back a few pages. Watch the documentary. As far as I'm concerned, the argument has already been made. I'm less interested in rehashing that and more interested in understanding why people are so dismissive of the people actually affected by Apu's stereotypical presentation by labeling it "fake outrage", "the far left", or even hypocrisy. I find it odd that people (rightfully) condemn Trump for dismissing perspective outside his own as "fake news" and "far left conspiracies", but then embrace the same tactics when discussing perspectives outside their own. If one doesn't find Apu hurtful and people of South Asian descent find Apu hurtful, shouldn't the starting point be assuming that pain is genuine and valid and making an effort to understand things from their perspective? I mean, all our views matter equally, right?
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 8:36pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

All I'm getting from this thread is: 

"How dare you not be offended by what I'm offended by!   How dare you not be like me."  

"How.  Dare.  You."


...and that pretty much sums up most far-left views that I've encountered throughout my life.   It doesn't even need to have a rational basis -- it's all hysterics and who can yell first and the loudest which pretty much shuts down any type of reasonable discussion (mainly because the person doing the shouting doesn't want to think about the alternative viewpoint).   If you want to sway someone's opinion you need to both TALK and LISTEN.   "I'm right and you're wrong" isn't listening.   Calling names and assuming someones gender/race/religion/political stripe based on some words on a computer screen isn't listening.  Appointing yourself the unsung white knight defender of someone else's values or culture because you need a vindicating pick-me-up isn't listening.

I say this as a Canadian who has for the most part voted Liberal since I've been voting age -- sometimes when I was younger because that's the way my parents voted, and more often than not as an adult because the candidate represented the better point of view or plan of action (and that was regardless of their political affiliation, it just happened to be the Liberal party more often than not).   It doesn't really matter whether it's left or right at this point, but it's the extreme leftist and rightist viewpoints that are the most damaging to our society.   The extremists are the ones who don't want to listen.   The rest of us normal people are caught in the middle of this crap.

Oh yeah, The Simpsons.

Haven't watched it for twenty years since it started going downhill and lost interest.   We're still arguing about The Simpsons, right?   Please tell me it's not someone just being a white knight for that vindicating pick-me-up high...
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 8:50pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

If you want to sway someone's opinion you need to both TALK and LISTEN.   "I'm right and you're wrong" isn't listening.   Calling names and assuming someones gender/race/religion/political stripe based on some words on a computer screen isn't listening.  Appointing yourself the unsung white knight defender of someone else's values or culture because you need a vindicating pick-me-up isn't listening.

------

Labeling a viewpoint as far-left is also not listening. Accusing someone of being a white knight defender is also not listening. Being dismissive of the actual people affected by this by labeling their views "fake outrage" is also not listening.

I'm not sure what Brian's story is, but as for me, I'm Asian, and I recognize the discussions about stereotypes and representation being had with Apu because they are the same discussions about stereotypes and representation that have been going on within the communities I am familiar with. I find it saddening that people are so quick to dismiss those experiences (which have been going on a long time) by labeling them "fake outrage" and extremist or suggesting that people are only trying to score points.

What's your deal?
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 9:12pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

What's your deal?

Does it matter, or do you really need to know my ethnic and/or religious background so you can determine if I have the right to be offended or not?
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 9:18pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Does it matter, or do you really need to know my ethnic and/or religious background so you can determine if I have the right to be offended or not?

-----

That's a very specific and very incorrect interpretation of "What's your deal?"
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 10:54pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Apu ISN`T a valet.

All this argument seems to be, is that it`s ok to take
the piss out of stereotypes, as long as they`re white.

I would love to know what comedy Michael and Brian would
recommend that can`t be taken as offensive.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 02 November 2018 at 11:06pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I would love to know what comedy Michael and Brian would  recommend that can`t be taken as offensive.


Im fond of BLAZING SADDLES.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 03 November 2018 at 1:22am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Sure. Go back a few pages.  Watch the documentary. As far as I'm concerned, the argument has already been made.
*****
I've read the whole thread.  I haven't heard anything specific.  Just a general notion that Apu is a "bootlicker" (false) and a "stepandfetchit" (a misinterpretation of that term and not really accurate, though I do comprehend that some Indian people find the way Apu acts in the store to be cringeworthy for whatever reason.)  However, I haven't heard anything which sways me against my central point, which is that while Apu is a stereotype, he's by and large a far more benign stereotype than the vast majority of vicious stereotypes The Simpsons delivers.  I may not be of Indian descent which apparently makes me a completely invalid arbiter but I do share qualities of other targets the Simpsons skewers and I can contrast those with what I can see in the stereotypes portrayed in Apu.  I just don't see it as worse and I haven't heard anything compelling to suggest otherwise.  So what makes Apu deserve special dispensation unlike the other races / religions and creeds roasted by The Simpsons?  (Some place earlier in the thread there was a claim that no Mexicans have been roasted... has whoever said that never seen Bumblebeeman in action?  He wears a Bumblebee costume everywhere, spends his family's money at the bar (or on some entirely ludicrous harebrained scheme like betting on a cockfight) then bemoans the fact later when he's busted for his stupidity with an "Aye, Chihuahua!"  Not much depth in that character, especially vs. Apu, who is shown to be a responsible, loving, caring, dedicated family man with real ambitions and feelings.  As Simpsons characters go, he is given more dimension and genuine emotions than most and there are many more positive aspects to his character than most.  Do you disagree?

I'm less interested in rehashing that and more interested in understanding why people are so dismissive of the people actually affected by Apu's stereotypical presentation by labeling it "fake outrage", "the far left", or even hypocrisy.
*****
Again, I never said anything remotely like that.  WTF? 

I find it odd that people (rightfully) condemn Trump for dismissing perspective outside his own as "fake news" and "far left conspiracies", but then embrace the same tactics when discussing perspectives outside their own. If one doesn't find Apu hurtful and people of South Asian descent find Apu hurtful, shouldn't the starting point be assuming that pain is genuine and valid and making an effort to understand things from their perspective? I mean, all our views matter equally, right?
*****
Again, you assign things to me I never even remotely said or thought.  I don't doubt Apu bothers some people of Indian descent.  I'm struggling to hear specific examples to explain why they believe Apu's portrayal by the Simpsons should upset them any more than someone white should feel about Homer's treatment or a Mexican should feel about Bumblebeeman or someone Irish should feel about Barney or a Jew should feel about Krusty or a Christian should feel about Rev. Lovejoy / Ned Flanders or an Italian should feel about Fat Tony or a rich corporate elderly executive should feel about Monty Burns or someone in law enforcement should feel about Chief Wiggum or someone in politics should feel about Mayor Quimby, etc.  All of these characters are at least as stereotyped as Apu and most are clearly moreso.  Most lack the positive aspects Apu has to his benefit.  I don't recall hearing Hari Kondabolu  rallying to get those characters removed or thought-policed into line.  I'd think 8 out of 10 people on the street would agree that most of the stereotypes I've raised above are far worse than Apu's portrayal, yet Apu is the one who needs to be "fixed."   Many have raised this issue in this thread but I have yet to hear any response to it. 

As much as you think this is a discussion of validating the feelings of a group who feels aggrieved I think this is equally a discussion about the validity of PC-ness and where you draw the line.  The Simpsons is particularly ripe for this discussion because it is so laden with just the kinds of things that piss off just the right kinds of groups that there has to be some kind of yardstick to quantify offensiveness or else it will be impossible to air the show because there will be no one in it.

So again I ask:  does anyone out there have any concrete or specific examples they can point to about Apu's characterization that makes it rise to a level worse than all the other examples cited?   I'm sincerely asking because I'm curious to know.  Is he really worse than all the other stereotypes?  And if you're offended by all the stereotypes, why are you watching a show that causes you so much pain? 


Edited by Rick Senger on 03 November 2018 at 1:38am
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 03 November 2018 at 4:48am | IP Logged | 12 post reply


 QUOTE:
Again, I never said anything remotely like that.  WTF?

I thought you said you read the whole thread. You'd know that those comments were made in this thread and not everything is attributed to you.


 QUOTE:
Again, you assign things to me I never even remotely said or thought.

If I'm assigning things to you, I'll say "you" and not "people". I'm talking about the discussion in general.


 QUOTE:
I'm struggling to hear specific examples to explain why they believe Apu's portrayal by the Simpsons should upset them

Yes, you are struggling to hear it, because you seem to think the issue is offensiveness Olympics, which it is not. The problem is not "Who is the worst stereotype?" The problem is a stereotype about a community that until recently has lacked representation. To the point where that stereotype became the representative of the community. Your list of stereotypes of groups that have more diverse representation only underlines that.


 QUOTE:
As much as you think this is a discussion of validating the feelings of a group who feels aggrieved I think this is equally a discussion about the validity of PC-ness and where you draw the line.

And that is /exactly/ my issue with these discussions. These types of discussions about representation, stereotypes, and how to deal with them have been going on for DECADES among minority communities. And despite those discussions, improvement is incremental at best. But whenever they try to loop white people into the discussion, they want to make it about the "political correctness" of white liberals instead of listening to the affected groups. And then they wonder why minorities get so pissy and don't want to talk about it.


 QUOTE:
And if you're offended by all the stereotypes, why are you watching a show that causes you so much pain?

Another way people try to control discussion is by turning "Hey, this is problematic, let's fix this," into "offense" and "outrage". It's not about pearl-clutching because our feelings are hurt while watching TV. It's about how representation in media affects how we get treated in real life.


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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 03 November 2018 at 8:48am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

And of course, in the end, there is a perfectly simple solution to this that the Simpsons producers probably wouldn't consider.

Complaints about Apu? Then don't put him in the show. Don't make claims, "Thousands insulted by Apu." Don't broadcast, "Apu off of Simpsons due to religious/stereotype objections."

If it truly is an issue... just don't put him in the show anymore. Don't show us how sensitive and free thinking you are. Don't take advantage of free advertising (because it's bad PR.) Simply don't use the character any more and the problem is solved.

Could it work? Let's ask Chuck Cunningham about it and see. :)
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John Byrne
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Posted: 03 November 2018 at 11:29am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

If you can see a parallel between a bland White guy and a colorful Brown one, your eyes must work differently than mine!
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 03 November 2018 at 11:46am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I thought you said you read the whole thread. You'd know that those comments were made in this thread and not everything is attributed to you.
*****
When you quote my words and then respond below them with refutations to positions entirely unrelated to my words, it must shock you that I might feel lumped in with those views. 


Yes, you are struggling to hear it, because you seem to think the issue is offensiveness Olympics, which it is not. The problem is not "Who is the worst stereotype?" The problem is a stereotype about a community that until recently has lacked representation. To the point where that stereotype became the representative of the community. Your list of stereotypes of groups that have more diverse representation only underlines that.
*****
It sounds like you don't dispute that there are far worse stereotypes in The Simpsons than Apu but because you perceive Apu to be one of India's few (for lack of a better phrase) cultural ambassadors in popular media, that is more at the heart of the matter.   If that's what you're saying then I get that and thank you for your candidness.  I have two responses.  Whose job is it to police this?  The Simpsons isn't responsible for giving a "fair and balanced" worldview (it's on Fox, for God's sake) nor is it at fault for under-representation of your race / religion in the overarching popular media.   The Simpsons is just trying to entertain.  Most of us in the discussion agree they've done a bad job of it for 20 or so years now, but that's not the issue.  I don't see how a show that has a distorted, exaggerated worldview of everything can be required to suddenly re-create a character who is an accurate, sympathetic, balanced representation where nothing in the show is meant to be particularly accurate or sympathetic or balanced.  If anything, this would only make Apu stick out more. 

It reminds me of a Simpsons from probably 25 years ago where Marge successfully protests the violence in Itchy and Scratchy cartoons and gets the producers to make I & S a "kinder, gentler" show where they sit on the veranda and poor lemonade for each other rather than chopping off each others' heads.  Lisa glumly reacts, "Itchy and Scratchy seem to have lost their bite" and goes outside to play (along with thousands of other children), plunging the ratings.  The violence is back and even greater by the next episode

Second response:  30 years ago I agree Apu was probably one of few Indian representations in the media.   However, now we have more diverse representation (Mindy Kaling had her own show for years, Raj on Big Bang Theory for more than a decade to name two examples I've watched regularly), so why is the issue only now being raised by Hari Kondabolu?  I don't believe anyone has suggested Apu has changed over that time period but Indian diversity has surely improved. So what has changed? 


....whenever they try to loop white people into the discussion, they want to make it about the "political correctness" of white liberals instead of listening to the affected groups. And then they wonder why minorities get so pissy and don't want to talk about it.
*****
You have a sliver of my position correctly there, though again I have said nothing of white liberals and that's not my politics.  I do think it's only fair that if Apu is perceived as so inappropriate and over top to people of Indian descent and needs to be brought to whatever standard is deemed acceptable by you that there needs to be a real and meaningful discussion of the specifics of Apu's stereotyping and what is offensive.  'Stepandfetchit' doesn't get the job done.  Handwringing about how "if you can't see it then that's a you problem" is also a non-starter.  "Go watch the documentary" doesn't answer the question.  If you want me to listen and to get with your position, you need to provide content, not just emotion.   Specifics. 
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 03 November 2018 at 12:41pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply


 QUOTE:
It sounds like you don't dispute that there are far worse stereotypes in The Simpsons than Apu but because you perceive Apu to be one of India's few (for lack of a better phrase) cultural ambassadors in popular media, that is more at the heart of the matter.   If that's what you're saying then I get that and thank you for your candidness.

No. I'm saying trying to judge which stereotypes are worse than others is irrelevant and nonsensical to the issue. How do you judge that? Are South Asians supposed to wait in line to let the "worse" stereotypes complain first?


 QUOTE:
Whose job is it to police this?

No one. Is anyone calling for a boycott of THE SIMPSONS over Apu? Is anyone demanding government action? The only action people seem to be taking is asking that THE SIMPSONS creators consider the impact of their character.


 QUOTE:
I don't believe anyone has suggested Apu has changed over that time period but Indian diversity has surely improved. So what has changed?

There's been a general reckoning of how media we've once consumed and enjoyed has contributed to negative attitudes in the real world. I don't think Apu is unique in that regard.


 QUOTE:
I do think it's only fair that if Apu is perceived as so inappropriate and over top to people of Indian descent and needs to be brought to whatever standard is deemed acceptable by you that there needs to be a real and meaningful discussion of the specifics of Apu's stereotyping and what is offensive.

I double-checked my posts in this thread, and unless I'm mistaken, I have yet to articulate a position on what should or shouldn't be done with Apu.
My participation in this discussion has always been about not being dismissive of actual South Asians by reducing their issues to "political correctness". Some people think I've been saying that nothing can be offensive, but I have yet to articulate that position either.


 QUOTE:
 If you want me to listen and to get with your position, you need to provide content, not just emotion.   Specifics.

I get why you think this is trying to foster discussion, but it's just really patronizing. "Prove to me that I have to listen to you" is a weird position. How about trying to understand why people are affected by this without being prepared to invalidate those feelings?
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 03 November 2018 at 1:25pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I'm saying trying to judge which stereotypes are worse than others is irrelevant and nonsensical to the issue. How do you judge that? Are South Asians supposed to wait in line to let the "worse" stereotypes complain first?
*****
Because if someone wants to compel the Simpsons to change Apu, they have to make a case for it.  They can't just say "you hurt my feelings... be nicer!"  They have to explain what was done wrong beyond vague platitudes and generalizations.  I have stated my belief that in fact Apu gets better treatment than the majority of the characters / types in the Simpsons.  He's a stereotype for sure but he's sympathetic and responsible and has been given a lot more feelings and dimension than the majority of Simpsons characters already.  So again, far from nonsensical, giving the specifics and examples of why Apu is such a bad stereotype is at the core of the discussion and couldn't be more germane.  You don't think so?

I get why you think this is trying to foster discussion, but it's just really patronizing. "Prove to me that I have to listen to you" is a weird position. How about trying to understand why people are affected by this without being prepared to invalidate those feelings?
*****
No weirder than your strenuously defending the position of someone and telling me how insensitive I am for not walking a mile in his moccasins yet asserting you have not expressed your own opinion on the subject.  Would your opinion surprise me?  Why the secrecy?

I've bent over backwards saying how I believe Brian and some people of Indian descent have been hurt by this.  But I've also said I am trying to understand the root of the hurt and to do that I need more information.  I've asked for specifics to help me but so far, there have been none.  It's pretty intellectually dishonest to tell me how insensitive I am for debating whether someone else's hurt is well founded when the specific reasons for that hurt remain obscured and you won't even lay out your own position.  Maybe the hurt is well justified or maybe the injured parties are being overly sensitive but in the absence of real discussion and examples I can only go with what I know from having watched hundreds of episodes of the show vs. being scolded about how I can't appreciate the context because I'm not of the minority being mistreated.  How about educating me?
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 03 November 2018 at 7:02pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

The stereotype is racial in nature with Apu. That alone makes it more offensive than the others. Mr. Burns could be less greedy. Chief Wiggums could be less inept. Homer could be less stupid. What is Apu supposed to do to lessen the mockery the Simpsons provides just by having him on the show? Be less Indian? Learn to speak without that accent? You say he's a fine, wonderful character with few flaws. By you, he's not selfish or greedy, nor is he overtly stupid. What is being mocked then other than his accent and ancestry? The Simpsons is making fun his racial characteristics.

That alone makes it a different sort of offense than the others the show liberally dispenses. 

Krusty's religion is one of the few redeemable qualities the character has. His money-grubbing is a commentary on his celebrity and not his heritage. That you think that is the stereotype for Jews is weird and frankly disturbing. The stereotype concerning Jews and money is that they control the world's finances and secretly manipulate events to benefit clandestine organizations. Being a venal money-grubbing jerk as Krusty is is supposed to be funny because he's famous and doesn't care about the constituency that brought him his fame. He doesn't like kids and is only in it for the money. That's not a Jewish stereotype. 

Ultimately, Rick, the people offended by Apu's representation of their race don't require your permission to be offended by him. They might appreciate your support, but you enjoy racial stereotypes of this nature and do so, in part, by insisting that they are nothing of the sort. They'll get through this one without you, thanks.

Your earlier statement that everyone's views matter equally is clearly a lie on your part. The views of those who have spoken out against Apu mean nothing to you. And that's fine. You demand that they justify their claims of offense on your terms and your's alone and refuse to lend any credence to how thirty years of consistent racial abuse from a highly rated television show might create an unwelcome situation for them.

"But how is it racist?? Oh, pray, please educate me!" It's racist in part because, as you love to hear yourself repeat, he's a splendid fellow in comparison to the rest of the cast. The only "joke" here is his race, and laughs are gotten by having him bow and scrape to the apparently far more idiotic cast members in order to secure his family's tenuous foothold in America.

I understand your feeling scolded on your refusal to appreciate the context of the minority being mistreated here, but Michael and I cannot fully do so either. We're simply throwing our support behind those who can. And let's face it, you do not sincerely have the slightest interest in doing so. You either accept that such context exists or you play these tedious, dishonest games dancing in celebration of your superiority over those who do. Empathy is just not you. We get that.

You are clearly lying about wanting to see the other side here. You will dismiss the idea that the basis of Apu's character is racial in nature. It must proven to you, in exactly this method, by exactly these standards. The simple fact of it will never be acknowledged by you. There is no attempt on your part for a meeting of the minds here. You came here to insult a liberal position and jerk everyone's chains. There is intellectual dishonesty in this thread, Rick, but it's not on the part of Michael or myself.

By the way, the voice in which I'm writing these is not elevated. I'm simply brusque with liars and those who smugly refuse to credit the feelings of others. 

You may want to re-examine your views on Jews though. Seriously, Rick. That's messed up.

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Rick Senger
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Posted: 04 November 2018 at 10:41am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

The stereotype is racial in nature with Apu. That alone makes it more offensive than the others. Mr. Burns could be less greedy. Chief Wiggums could be less inept. Homer could be less stupid. What is Apu supposed to do to lessen the mockery the Simpsons provides just by having him on the show? Be less Indian? Learn to speak without that accent?
*****
You carefully pick and choose your stereotype examples.  What of Krusty the Clown, whose race and religion is equally on display and equally over the top?  He has a strong accent.  His race is ridiculed to me in a more direct and offensive way by giving him deeply negative stereotypes that only the worst meatheads ascribe to Jews (greedy, shown not to care how he makes his money).  Barney is Irish.  He's shown to be a drunk who can't really hold down a job (you know, the way those who stereotype like to look at all Irish people?)  How about Mayor Quimby, who is a pure WASP proxy.  He has a thick accent.  He sleeps around.  He, too, is shown to be greedy and unfeeling about those less fortunate than him (you know, the broad strokes many baiters use to attack WASPs?  It's just hilarious, isn't it?)  How about Bumblebeeman?  (Need I expound?)  All of the above have pronounced accents (except Barney, who only rarely shows a goofy accent.)  All of the above to me are worse representations of their races than Apu because they give voice to the ugliest negative stereotypes of their races propounded by only the most ignorant without the same positive attributes Apu is given to balance their characters. 

(Krusty's)money-grubbing is a commentary on his celebrity and not his heritage. That you think that is the stereotype for Jews is weird and frankly disturbing. The stereotype concerning Jews and money is that they control the world's finances and secretly manipulate events to benefit clandestine organizations.  Being a venal money-grubbing jerk as Krusty is is supposed to be funny because he's famous and doesn't care about the constituency that brought him his fame. He doesn't like kids and is only in it for the money. That's not a Jewish stereotype.
*****
Ummm, no?  Talk to a Jew and ask them whether they believe Krusty's money-grubbing attitude is a reference to his Jewishness or his celebrity.  The "all about money" riff is a classic insult used by ignorant people to attack Jewish character and I would bet you 10 out of 10 Jews would strongly agree.  If you're going to be a cheerleader for racial fairness and balance, you might want to re-think trying to marginalize / deflect clear stereotypes against other races. 


Ultimately, Rick, the people offended by Apu's representation of their race don't require your permission to be offended by him.
*****
Where have I asked you for my permission?  All I've asked for are specifics so I can understand where the hurt (which I believe to be sincere and real on your part) comes from.  Clearly you're upset by Apu and clearly others of your race feel the same.  You wouldn't spend all this time on this thread otherwise.  But am I not allowed to ask for information so I can form my own opinion on how I feel about how you feel?  And am I not allowed to make value judgments (just as you have made) about how bad the Apu representation is?  All I've asked for is more detail.  Somehow my responding with counter examples translates to you as a vicious attack upon you.  However, isn't that how we come to a resolution, by engaging in examples, comparing and contrasting and ultimately judging?

 
you enjoy racial stereotypes of this nature and do so, in part, by insisting that they are nothing of the sort.
*****
So because I have asked for more information and haven't simply fallen in line with your view that I must enjoy racial stereotypes.  As someone professing to be a proponent of tolerance and balance, you're really winning me over here.  As I said already, I mostly stopped watching the Simpsons decades ago (I still enjoy the Treehouse of Horror shows.)  A lot of it was because of the increasingly lowest common denominator way the writers came to address issues like those raised here.   You can choose not to believe me, but that's a fact.


Your earlier statement that everyone's views matter equally is clearly a lie on your part. The views of those who have spoken out against Apu mean nothing to you.  And that's fine.
*****
Sure, Brian.  That's why I've spent hours on this thread going back and forth with you and Michael on the topic.  Because I like to be abused for having my own view, just like you.  The difference for me is that I believe you when you say Apu really bothers you.  However, you clearly don't believe I am genuinely trying to get you to peel back a layer and get deeper into what this is about.   I must be a moron or a blatant racist for not immediately comprehending in full detail and color where your upset comes from.

Michael made one good point which I agreed with above, namely that because Apu has been one of the sole cultural references in American pop culture over time, his stereotyped portrayal stings more to people of Indian descent because they don't have as many other references to counter balance Apu.  That's a fair point and one I hadn't really considered.  That moved me a step closer to understanding your position.  Unfortunately, it has been so attached to hatred / vitriol launched at me for not simply walking in lockstep with your view that it's hard to feel much sympathy for someone who apparently thinks I'm a racist, thoughtless monster for not immediately seeing how Apu's treatment is so horrible and monstrous.


You demand that they justify their claims of offense on your terms and your's alone and refuse to lend any credence to how thirty years of consistent racial abuse from a highly rated television show might create an unwelcome situation for them.
*****
I haven't demanded anything.  I have asked for more information.

"But how is it racist?? Oh, pray, please educate me!" It's racist in part because, as you love to hear yourself repeat, he's a splendid fellow in comparison to the rest of the cast. The only "joke" here is his race, and laughs are gotten by having him bow and scrape to the apparently far more idiotic cast members in order to secure his family's tenuous foothold in America.
*****
Is that an attack on Apu or an attack on the American economic condition?  Apu is shown to be an immigrant who comes from a desperate financial situation where a botched fertility treatment has suddenly given him 8 kids to take care of.  He has few career choices like many immigrants who lack resources and networking.

I can see how you would be annoyed by the bowing and scraping to a degree.  You see it as undignified, it hits a nerve with you, I get that.  But is his willingness to suck it up and do what he has to do for a more noble purpose (providing for his family) completely negative? He's taken an impossible situation and found a way to get by.  Yeah, it's used for exaggerated comedic purposes, no doubt.  It's pretty over the top.  The difference for me is that his behavior comes from a place of doing the right thing and serving a higher, positive goal (selflessly providing for his family.)  He's an immigrant in a country where immigrants often don't get the same opportunities as others but through humility and sacrifice he finds a way to survive against the odds.  The racial refs and behavior I cite in my top paragraph above have nothing redeeming behind them; they're simply cheap shots taken at each race for comedic purposes.  But Apu is the character that needs to be fixed?


...let's face it, you do not sincerely have the slightest interest in doing so. You either accept that such context exists or you play these tedious, dishonest games dancing in celebration of your superiority over those who do. Empathy is just not you. We get that.
*****
Is that an attempt to make me empathize?  It sounds to me more like an out and out personal attack.


You are clearly lying about wanting to see the other side here. You will dismiss the idea that the basis of Apu's character is racial in nature. It must proven to you, in exactly this method, by exactly these standards. The simple fact of it will never be acknowledged by you. There is no attempt on your part for a meeting of the minds here. You came here to insult a liberal position and jerk everyone's chains. There is intellectual dishonesty in this thread, Rick, but it's not on the part of Michael or myself.
*****
See my last comment above.

By the way, the voice in which I'm writing these is not elevated. I'm simply brusque with liars and those who smugly refuse to credit the feelings of others. 
*****
Congratulations on your dispassionate dismissal of me and my smugness and lying ways.  You've really broadened the discussion.


Edited by Rick Senger on 04 November 2018 at 11:44am
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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 08 November 2018 at 1:59pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Complaints about Apu seem (to me) something like 30 years too late.
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 08 November 2018 at 3:18pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

The documentary that sort of began all of this conversation, The Problem with Apu, is actually remarkably even handed.  It points out that there are both positives and negatives to the character.  The positive side is that there is an Indian man represented in primetime television, and in terms of storylines he is a good-hearted, at times even heroic, character.  On the other hand, there are stereotypical elements of his presentation that have concretely led to mockery of Indian Americans.  I think most of that nuance has gotten lost in ensuing conversations which seek to either vindicate or condemn the character and its creators based on parts of this whole.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 08 November 2018 at 3:38pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

I think most of that nuance has gotten lost in ensuing conversations which seek to either vindicate or condemn the character and its creators based on parts of this whole.

------

I think it's important to note that the voices complaining about Apu aren't asking to eliminate the character, either from history or the current episodes. They aren't asking for creators to be fired for what was done in the past. They are looking to redeem the character from his more negative elements. They are asking the creators to be more mindful of what is done with the character in the future. If one acknowledges that negatives to the character exist, then what's the harm in updating him? Do people grouse that Wonder Woman is not the secretary of the JSA anymore?

The show is nearly 30 years old. Surely there can be some humor mined from the character that doesn't rely on the tired, lazy stereotypes. Characters can change. Does anyone remember when Homer was just a gruff, 50s-type dad instead of being a lovable moron?

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Shawn Kane
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Posted: 09 November 2018 at 6:49am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Michael, 
I think that you've just nailed it. There will still be a segment that won't be happy unless the character is totally wiped out though.
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