Those South Asian Stereotypes
Drawing by Matt Groening
Most south Asians after often confronted with many racial stereotypes such as being a corner shop owner, something I feel westernised media has grown and benefited from. Something you see in shows such as The Simpsons, with their ‘token’ south Asian character, Apu. A character which was originally voiced by a white actor Hank Azaria and portrays racial stereotypes, such as Apu having a large number of children and being the owner of a corner shop, Kwik-E-Mart convenience store. You also see this in American shows such as The Big Bang Theory of course which is about the lives of four socially awkward friends, Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj, change when they meet their neighbour, Penny.
The show features a token Indian character, Rajesh Koothrappali is often made fun of for his cultural background and accents based on Indian stereotypes for comedic purposes. He is also often emasculated and desexualised, for lack of understanding American culture and coming to America from India. However due to the ‘comedic’ value of the show, many actors and comedians performing racist tropes from a ‘liberal’ perspective have consequently created this idea that because the creator cannot be racist if their work is made ironically.
Therefore leading to this problematic concept that it is acceptable for the western community to consciously offend people of colour but in this case the south Asian community. Furthermore, the character Rajesh Koothrappali encourages this constant idea of the character trying to escape the arranged marriages that are forced upon by his bossy parents. This is setting and furthering this belief within westernised society, some of whom that already believe such unfavourable stereotypes, that arranged marriage is forced as well as portraying south Asian parents in a negative manner, which is not an accurate portrayal of the south Asian community or families. The real question is, why have these racial stereotypes been allowed to air across various media forms.