An Analysis of the Problem With Apu

Assignment: Analyze the final scene of the documentary, including the transcript (posted on DX). Start at 47.58 and view until the end. Write a blog post in which you analyze the filmmaker’s purpose and how it is achieved. Identify the specific techniques used and analyze their effects on the audience. Include still shots from the documentary as needed, along with quotes, to support your claims.


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.






Global Issues Post

    This article titled “By 2030 over 50% of colleges will collapse”, written by Thomas Fry provides eight reasons  why over 50% of colleges will collapse in 2030. Fry begins this article with an anecdote about Mozart, and how after his death his wife was forced to earn a living, so she began selling her late husband’s manuscripts and turned the former messy paper scraps lying around the house into a tidy income stream. Fry states that “lucky for her, she lived after Gutenberg’s printing revolution had begun in Europe allowing her to leverage the power of rapid reproducibility” Fry utilizes this anecdote to allude to how during those same 200+ years where the printing revolution occurred, colleges have barely changed. This anecdote helps provide general insight for the readers, on how Fry will comment on the implications of technology and its impact on the future of education.
    The overall theme in this article is the implications of technology and its effect on education as well as figuring out what it means to be an educated person in the 21st century. In this article, Fry celebrates technology and embraces the digital era, “Each industry has forged its own unique path into the digital age”. Fry also tries to convince and persuade people who run colleges to change alongside the rise of the digital era to prevent public institutions from becoming obsolete. Furthermore, Fry pressurizes his young audience to change and to keep pace with technological progress,
     Fry appeals to logos in this article by providing his readers of prospective and current college students with evidence to his reasons, and to ultimately persuade them to agree with him on his views. At the beginning of this article, Fry provides a “4 key metrics to consider” to provide some background information for his readers to note before he began explaining his beliefs about the future of colleges. Fry appeals to logos by providing statistics to support his views, for example,  “according to Andrew Ng, founder of Coursera, “When one professor can teach 50,000 people, it alters the economics of education”. However, phrases like “Sudden realization that “the emperor has no clothes!” creates a humorous and informal tone in this article. Furthermore, Fry writes a metaphor, “several driving forces are causing the world of higher ed to feel the ground shift beneath its feet”, this metaphor re-emphasizes his point of how he believes higher education will collapse very soon.
    I chose to find an article that focused on the global issue of beliefs, value education because I feel that education is a field that would most likely be impacted by the irreversible technological progress of the 21st century. I’m very interested in how technology will impact the future of society’s main values and beliefs. I thought that exploring how technology will impact our future education will help us understand society’s beliefs and values and help gain a better understanding of what it means to be an educated person in the 21st century.