As part of its publicity blitz for The Simpsons Movie, several 7-Elevens around the country have been turned into Kwik-E-Marts, just like the ones run by Apu, the Indian American store owner from the animated TV show. Whether Apu’s character, who, among other things, speaks with a heavy accent, is offensive or not has been debated since he first appeared. The 7-Eleven promos for the movie have started some new chatter on the blogsphere, and CNN aired a report on the stores.
Here’s an analysis of the CNN report at Racialicious.
Manish at Ultrabrown is a longtime critic of Apu and weighs in on the movie promos. He’s also quoted in the CNN report.
There’s always a fine line between satire that’s funny and satire that offends, especially when it deals with race or ethnicity. I’ve not seen the movie, but Rob Schneider’s Asian minister character in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry may also fall into this category.
Apu and most of the other ethnic humor in movies and TV tend make a particular group the butt of the joke rather than lampooning stereotypes in an enlightening way. Are you laughing with Apu or at him? That’s the question.
This post can also be found on Hyphen magazine’s blog.