31 Oct 2018

    People Are Abusing This Guy About Apu From "The Simpsons" To Prove They Aren’t Abusive Online

    "People are trying to prove they're not mad by getting extremely mad for several days."

    by ,

    This is Ketan Joshi. Joshi is a data analyst and communications advisor at a science agency. He's also a writer and Twitter user.

    Supplied

    For the last few days Joshi's been copping some pretty intense abuse online from a bunch of angry fans of The Simpsons who are upset about Apu.

    @KetanJ0 @harikondabolu Another triggered indian. How sad

    It's...a whole thing.

    'why are you just cherry picking the racist ones!' this is like 50% of my mentions today https://t.co/CgBxgvsZmr

    A few days ago Joshi tweeted about Hari Kondabolu, the American comedian and filmmaker whose latest documentary, The Problem With Apu, focused on The Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Kondabolu's film also dissected the depiction of South Asians in Western culture.

    Umm, so, do you think there's any chance these people are going to realise that racially abusing @harikondabolu because The Simpsons are writing out Apu is kind of proving the point about how Apu is a lightning rod for insane, swivel-eyed racists? https://t.co/VtRLW7W2gf

    Twitter: @KethanJ0

    Kondabolu's 2017 film inspired fierce debate over the character of Apu and the impact he had on South Asian stereotypes in popular culture.

    "I know Apu is one of the smartest characters on The Simpsons, granted that the bar isn't set very high, but that's not why people liked him. They just liked his accent," he explained in the film.

    While Kondabolu's doco opened up an interesting discussion on the role of stereotypes in pop culture of the past, the response from the creators of The Simpsons was derided as "toothless".

    The fact that The Simpsons had Lisa (!) be the one to slap down the legitimate conversation around Apu is maybe the grossest part of this

    Twitter: @DanaSchwartzzz

    Kondabolu has been copping abuse online for months, ever since his movie was released.

    Twitter: @jcarlosreid

    ...and now The Simpsons is rumoured to be writing Apu out of the show.

    Twitter: @harikondabolu

    So Joshi decided to point out the irony in Kondabolu's abusers using racial insults: "Do you think there's any chance these people are going to realise that racially abusing @harikondabolu because The Simpsons are writing out Apu is kind of proving the point about how Apu is a lightning rod for insane, swivel-eyed racists?" he tweeted.

    Umm, so, do you think there's any chance these people are going to realise that racially abusing @harikondabolu because The Simpsons are writing out Apu is kind of proving the point about how Apu is a lightning rod for insane, swivel-eyed racists? https://t.co/VtRLW7W2gf

    As you can imagine, Joshi's tweet went over really well with the people already upset about Kondabolu's film.

    @KetanJ0 @mumbletwits @harikondabolu Maybe stop picking stupid little fights and making them bigger than what they should be. It pisses a lot of people off when every little fucking thing gets picked to bits. Every. Little. Thing. Pick the bigger fights. Let people enjoy their damn lives just a little bit.

    @KetanJ0 @harikondabolu So everyone who likes Apu is a racist. Cool.

    In an apparent attempt to prove that Joshi is wrong and that they aren't racist, a lot of people have spent the last few days tweeting racist abuse at him.

    "People are incensed to the point of absolute insanity about a minor supporting character being written out of a poorly rating show," Joshi told BuzzFeed News.

    "It's about one third sweary abuse, one third arguing about Apu's positive traits, and one third straight up racism."

    Twitter: @EnVivimos

    Some of the tweets mention cows or have pictures of beef, "presumably because they think I'm Hindu", he said. "I'm not."

    Joshi told BuzzFeed News he is "truly floored" by the abuse.

    Some clear-headed analysis here from fans of The Simpsons who feel that Apu's characterisation was a valuable and warm-hearted insight into modern first-generation migration in America https://t.co/easrySZnrh

    "I've written and tweeted about some genuinely massive scientific and cultural issues, even around racism and social media abuse, but I've never ever received anything like what I've received from Apu's fan-base," Joshi said.

    "It's all in the name of proving that their love of Apu isn't related to racism, which is so stupid it makes my head spin.

    "If wanted to prove I am not racist and not mad, I would simply post thousands of madly racist tweets" Brilliant 👔👔

    "It's insane that the word 'snowflakes' keeps being used by these people, because there are tens of thousands of people furiously weeping and wailing because a minor cartoon character won't be on a dated, poorly-rating show anymore," he said.

    "The world has moved past representing migrant experiences through the pens and the voices of white guys, and what we're seeing is the friction and the corrosive rubbing of all the people who want to drag it back, lest they lose whatever power they had in that original situation," he said.

    Joshi has previously written about the backlash to criticisms of Apu.

    Joshi has reported some of the tweets he's received to Twitter but most complaints have been rejected.

    You know what, @TwitterAU, "Fuck yourself dirty indian. Better wash your brown ass in that shitty river full of bodies and filth" does make sense in the context of the larger conversation. You're right, I'm wrong, please accept my apologies (and I'm sorry I doubted you, Barfy19) https://t.co/pDGUcRiMbW

    "It's not unexpected, but it's upsetting," he said.

    Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

    Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

    Hannah Ryan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Hannah Ryan at hannah.ryan@buzzfeed.com.

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