In The Problem With Apu, the narrator Hari Kondabolu examines the East Indian cartoon character Apu on the long-running TV series “The Simpsons” , and analyzes the normalization of racial stereotyping of East-Indians on television to an American audience. The prominent theme of racial stereotyping of Indians is conveyed through the utilization of a personal anecdote, rhetorical question, allusion as well as film techniques such as jump cuts. The main purpose Kondabolu is trying to achieve in The Problem With Apu is to highlight how the creators of The Simpsons have wrongly stereotyped East-Indians through the character Apu, as well as to inform the general American audience that the characterization of Apu is racist and discriminatory to people of India descent.
In the documentary The Problem With Apu, narrated by Hari Kondabolu, the filmmaker utilizes jump cuts to enhance the purpose of this documentary, which is to inform and help persuade to the general American audience that the Simpsons character Apu is a racist and discriminatory character, and it has to be criticized. The jumpcut to the scene of the ‘racist grandfather’ helps evoke a sense of humor for the audience to lighten the tone of this documentary. The filmmaker’s usage of jump cuts helps grab the audience’s attention causing them to focus on what Kondabolus is saying. The jump cut can be seen on 48:04.
The filmmaker’s usage of Grandpa Simpson helps captivate the audience’s attention again, as well as re-enhancing Hari Kondabolu’s purpose of creating the documentary of The Problem With Apu, which is to persuade and inform the American Audience that Apu is a racist and discriminatory character. The phrase “the Simpsons is just like your racist grandfather” and the still above of, Grandpa Simpson holding a variety of signs that present extremely racist views of Indian people, alludes back to Kondabolu’s message. For example, two of the signs Grandpa Simpson is holding show ‘brownface’, which is extremely racist and offensive. Overall, the usage of jumpcut and Grandpa Simpson helps regain the audience’s attention and help allude back to Hari Kondabolu’s purpose of creating the documentary of The Problem With Apu, which is to persuade and inform the American audience that Apu is a racist and discriminatory character
Futhermore, Kondabolu’s personal anecdote at the end of this documentary (archival footage), jokingly describes the things he and his brother would say to his mother, like, “take that dot off your head?”, “why are you wearing bedsheets outside of the house?” “shut up and go make me food”. These phrases cause the audience to remember the overall theme of this documentary and help allude to Kondabolu’s opinions of why the character, Apu, is racist and discriminatory.
Lastly, the rhetorical question asked at the end of this documentary, “can you imagine what she dealt with out of the house” helps indirectly cause the audience to remember why the character, Apu is racist and discriminatory, as well as evoking sadness for the audience.
Overall, in this snippet of The Problem with Apu, the usage of personal anecdotes, allusion and jumpcuts help achieve Hari Kondabolu’s purpose of informing and persuading the general American audience that the Simpsons character Apu is a racist and discriminatory character that has to be criticized.