Fox has finally broken its silence on the controversy surrounding Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
For about a year now, Apu has been under fire for alleged cultural insensitivity.
In a statement released by Fox chairman and CEO Dana Walden, the executive said they have left the decision up to the creators.
“We have had the conversation with [executive producer] Jim Brooks and his team and we’ve basically left it up to them,” Walden said.
“They’ve treated the characters with so much respect. We trust them to handle it in a way that will be best for the show… ultimately we decided that would be their decision.”
The controversy behind Azaria voicing the character started after a documentary by Hari Kondabolu which debuted last November, raising the question about the character as a negative, stereotypical representation of South Asians.
The show had tried to address the issue in an episode titled ‘No Good Read Goes Unpunished’. However, the episode sparked a mixed reception from audiences.
In ‘No Good Read Goes Unpunished’, Marge is seen reading a book to daughter Lisa that has been changed from its original version to something more politically correct.
“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” says Lisa.
The show then panned to a picture of Apu, with the slogan “don’t have a cow”.
The scene garnered attention with some calling it a “completely toothless response”.
Earlier this year the voice behind the popular character, Hank Azaria, said he is “willing to step aside” from his role voicing the character following a race-related controversy.
Shopkeeper Apu has been part of the long-running animation series since 1990, with Azaria adopting an Indian accent to voice him.
In his appearance on the Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert, he said he would be willing to give up the role and be replaced by an Indian or South Asian actor after calling for more “inclusion” and diversity in the show’s writing room.