Dredd and Lone Survivor producer Adi Shankar was inspired by rapper Kanye West to launch a screenwriting contest aimed at correcting the problem with The Simpsons’ controversial Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
Adi Shankar We got love pic.twitter.com/dyJyLRF79e— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 30, 2018
In a video shared by West’s Twitter account with the caption “we got love,” the Indian-American film producer says he opted not to use his real accent upon immigrating to America at age 16 because of the cartoon Kwik-E-Mart proprietor.
“You see, Apu has an accent that no Indian person on this planet has. He has a last name that no Indian person on this planet has. This is not a stereotype, it is a mockery,” Shankar says in the video.
“So what can we do about it? Effective immediately, I’ve launched a screenwriting contest for all humans to submit 22-minute, 22-page spec scripts about Apu and how we can solve the problem. Use The Simpsons canon, give us your ideas, and the winning script will get made. Either by Fox or unofficially as a fan-film that I will personally finance.”
Fox produces and airs The Simpsons, now in its 29th season.
Shankar, well-known to fans for producing unauthorized one-shots dubbed the “Bootleg Universe” — including The Punisher: Dirty Laundry and Power/Rangers — says he was inspired by the ‘Love Everyone’ rapper.
“By the way, this idea came to fruition because of a question that Kanye asked me, which is, ‘what would I like to do about it?’” Shankar says.
“And I realized something: we spend a lot of time fighting, we fight each other, we need to stop fighting and come together and find solutions.”
“If a group of people are saying, ‘hey, this made me feel uncomfortable,’ or ‘hey, this made me feel hurt,’ instead of telling them ‘you’re pretending to be hurt,’ talk to them,” Shankar says.
“Figure out a solution together. We don’t need to throw sticks and stones at each other. We just need to talk to one another and come together as humans.”
The video has since received 1.05 million views and more than 12,000 ‘likes.’
Calling the animated series “sick,” the contest aims to find a screenplay “centering on the character ‘Apu’ set in the world and cannon of The Simpsons that takes the character of Apu and in a clever way subverts him, pivots him, intelligently writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a mean spirited mockery and transforms him into a kernel of truth wrapped in funny insight aka actual satire.”
“This contest is open to people of all ethnicities and cultures,” the site reads, “however, if you don't have any experience with Indian culture in America then you may not have the perspective and experience to write well on this topic.”
There is no cost to enter a script and a jury comprised of “South Asians and other minorities who work in entertainment” will determine the winner.
The site says Shankar will present the winning script to The Simpsons’ writers room and Fox Broadcasting Company, who will then “make it an official episode of The Simpsons’ upcoming season, and recommend that they hire the winning writer into their room for the next season.”
If the potentially winning script is rejected by The Simpsons, Shankar will “finance the winning script and produce it as an unofficial fan film that looks identical to an official Simpsons episode” as the seventh entry in the Bootleg Universe series.1comments
Scripts should be submitted by the June 30 deadline.
The controversy with the longtime Simpsons character has continued to grow in recent years, and commentators found themselves dissatisfied with the manner in which the show addressed both the controversy and Hari Kondabolu's documentary ‘The Problem With Apu.’ Commentators insist the character is an offensive and racist caricature.