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At last animation is changing its toon


At last animation is changing its toon

Animators are now taking representation seriously ... although it took a lot of pushing to make them do so

Tymon Smith

It’s taken a while but finally, perhaps given a kick in the proverbial backside by the Black Lives Matter protests in the US, the issue of representation in animated series and films seems to be leading to much-needed changes in the industry.

In 2017, American comedian and writer Hari Kondabolu, who is of Indian descent, made a documentary called The Problem with Apu, in which he argued that the portrayal of the beloved shop owner character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon by white actor Hank Azaria had damaging consequences for attitudes towards Indians in the US.

Through interviews with a variety of south-Asian-American entertainers, the film makes a compelling case for the idea that even in the fantasy world of animation, representation matters. The creators of The Simpsons wrote off Kondabolu’s criticism as hysterical political correctness. Though he had refused to be interviewed for the film, Azaria seemed to have taken its criticism on board and in January announced he would no longer do the voice, “unless there’s some way to transition it or something”...

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