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Hank Azaria shares how he flipped 180 degrees on his voicing of Apu on 'The Simpsons'

The actor went from defending his portrayal of the Indian shopkeeper to founding an anti-bias non-profit to share why it was wrong.

Hank Azaria on The Man Enough Podcast

Hank Azaria spoke with The Man Enough Podcast about his evolution with the character Apu.

Hank Azaria has starred in dozens of TV shows and movies, both as a full-bodied actor and as a voiceover artist. But the roles he's best known for are the multiple characters he has voiced on "The Simpsons."

One of those voices helped win Azaria multiple Emmy awards, but also landed him in hot water—his portrayal of Indian shopkeeper Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

A documentary by Indian comedian Hari Kondabolu, "The Problem with Apu," examined the issue of Apu being a racialized stereotype, no matter how beloved the character was. Kondabolu himself started of as a fan of the character. "Apu was the only Indian we had on TV at all so I was happy for any representation as a kid," he told the BBC. But that perspective changed as he got older. "He's funny, but that doesn't mean this representation is accurate or right or righteous," he said. "It gets to the insidiousness of racism, though, because you don't even notice it when it's right in front of you."

Azaria spoke to his own obliviousness and his years-long journey from defending his portrayal of Apu to co-founding an anti-bias non-profit aimed at educating people about why such portrayals are harmful on The Man Enough podcast.


"So what happened to me with Apu was that got pointed out to me," he told host Liz Plank and Jamey Heath. "It's like, your well-intentioned character that was very funny and made a lot of people laugh, and won you Emmys, and helped create an iconic, wonderful television show—and all those things are true about it—but it had some blind spots baked into it, in its groundwater that came through me and the writers and the creators, that had unintended negative consequences. And the fact that I was oblivious to it only underlined how much I needed to look at it."

That wasn't his first reaction, though. He said he got upset and "very defensive" at first, reacting in a way that many people find familiar.

"I was like, 'Well, where does this end?' And I hear now a lot of people say it today. They say it to me: 'Isn't this all silly? It's gone too far. Where does this end? Can you not do an Irish accent? Can you not do a Polish accent? You're not a policeman. How come you can play Police Chief Wiggum? I mean, where does this nonsense end?' kind of thing. And that was my first, second, and third reaction." He said to him, it was just another thing he was imitating as a voice actor. He didn't see the difference between imitating an Indian or a Black person versus a French or German person.

@wearemanenough

Taking accountability for the past 💛#growth #mindset

"Learning that difference became important to me," he said. That was the beginning of his gaining a deeper understanding of how his voicing of Apu could be problematic.

Interestingly, Azaria's experience with a 12-step recovery program helped him process the backlash he experienced in a healthy, accountable way. He pointed out that a part of recovery is denial, but once you get past that, you start owning your part in the issue.

"Even if, in the end, you decide, well, my part of this, I think, is only 10% of the whole thing, I think somebody else is maybe 90% of this…you can only really work on your end," he said.

"Step four is that inventory. What am I doing here? Who am I? Where was I at fault? Where am I to blame? What's my part? How am I accountable?" he went on. "And step nine is amends. Now how do I make this right? How do I make up for it? Sometimes that can be 20 minutes. Sometimes it can take you years to work through that."

Azaria also had a professional and personal choice to make. "Am I gonna keep doing this voice or not?" he asked. "It wasn't so apparent to me what to do, especially when I was so defensive at first, because on the one hand, I didn't want to just bow to what we called then 'PC pressure.' Now there are other words for it, right? I didn't want to 'fold to the woke mob' or 'give in to cancel culture,' whatever we wanna call it. But more to the point, I didn't want to just, for appearance's sake, fold, because I was afraid of criticism or looking like a bad guy. On the other hand, I certainly didn't want to continue to do harm and perpetuate a stereotype and hurt people and marginalize people I really didn't know."

Azaria shared that one reason he didn't participate in Kondabolu's documentary was that he was afraid he would misstep and say things that would hurt both himself and other people. He said he was still learning and knew he needed to keep his mouth shut and his ears open. He started reading and attending seminars and talking to people.

"And these are conversations I had never had before," he said. "I don't think I'd ever had a conversation about race with anybody before, except in college, in a class where I was mostly just taking it in as an intellectual exercise."

Through that learning, Azaria began to recognize what many would call "white privilege," but that Azaria refers to as "relative advantages."

"I realized one of the main relative advantages or privileges I enjoyed is never having to think about that stuff. Never ever once. Didn't impact me. It's why I didn't take a pause when I did the voice of Apu or others, because it didn't occur to me that there would be any kind of impact beyond either a laugh or not a laugh, a successful show or not a successful show."

The more he learned, the clearer the reality became for him and he was able to make the decision to stop voicing Apu in 2018. Since then, he has gone on to work closely with The Soul Focused Group, a Black-led organization that focuses on building connections and raising the consciousness of people to help bridge divides that keep us apart. He also partnered with the group to found The Human Solidarity Project to remove financial barriers to the services The Soul Focused Group offers.

Azaria's evolution is fascinating to hear about and a great example of how education, open-mindedness and open-heartedness can lead us to a deeper understanding of and connection to one another.

Watch the entire interview below.

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via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

via Pexels

People living to work, not working to live.

If we looked 60 years into the past, there are a lot of things that were accepted as “normal” that today most people find abhorrent. For example, people used to smoke cigarettes everywhere. They’d light up in hospitals, schools and even churches.

People also used to litter like crazy. It’s socially unacceptable now, but if you lived in the ’70s and finished your meal at McDonald’s, you’d chuck your empty styrofoam container (remember those?) and soda cup right out of the window of your car and onto the street.



It’s hard to imagine that just 60 years ago spousal abuse was considered family business and wasn't the concern of law enforcement.

It makes me wonder when people in the future look back on the year 2022, which things will they see as barbaric? Almost certainly, the way we treat the animals we use for food will be seen as cruel. The racial divides in the criminal justice system will be seen as a moral abomination. And I’m sure that people will also look at our continued reliance on fossil fuels as a major mistake.

A Reddit user by the name u/MEMELORD_JESUS asked the AskReddit subforum “What’s the weirdest thing society accepts as normal?” and the responses exposed a lot of today’s practices that are worth questioning.

A lot of the responses revolved around American work ethic and how we are taught to live to work and not to work to live. We seem to always be chasing some magical reward that’s just around the corner instead of enjoying our everyday lives. “I’ll get to that when I retire,” we say and then don’t have the energy or the inclination to do so when the time comes.

There are also a lot of people who think that our healthcare system will be looked at with utter confusion by people in the future.

Here are 17 of the best responses to the question, “What’s the weirdest thing society accepts as normal?”

1. Work-life balance

"Working until you're old, greying, and broken then using whatever time you have left for all the things you wish you could have done when you were younger." — Excited_Avocado_8492

2. Rest in comfort

"That dead people need pillows in caskets." — Qfn4g02016

3. I.R.S. mystery

"Guessing how much you owe the IRS in taxes." — SheWentThruMyPhone

4. You get the leaders you deserve

"Politicians blatantly lying to the people. We accept it so readily, it's as though it's supposed to be that way." — BlackLetyterLies

5. The booze-drugs separation

"Alcohol is so normalized but drugs are not. It's so weird. I say this as an alcohol loving Belgian, beer is half of our culture and I'm proud of it too but like... that's fucking weird man." — onions_cutting_ninja

6. Stage-parent syndrome

"People having kids and trying to live their lives again through them, vicariously, forcing the kids to do things that the parents never got to do, even when the kids show no inclination, and even have an active dislike, for those things." — macaronsforeveryone

7. Priorities

"Living to work vs working to live." — Food-at-last

8. 'The Man' is everywhere

"Being on camera or recorded any time you are in public." — Existing-barely

9. Tragic positivity 

"'Feel-good' news stories about how a kid makes a lemonade stand or something to pay for her mom's cancer treatment because no one can afford healthcare in America." — GotaLuvit35

10. Credit score

"As a non-American, I am amazed at their credit score system. As a third-world citizen, credit cards are usually for rich (and slightly less rich) people who have more disposable money than the rest of us and could pay off their debt.

The way I see people on Reddit talk about it is strange and somewhat scary. Everyone should have a card of his own as soon as he becomes an adult, you should always buy things with it and pay back to actively build your score. You're basically doomed if you don't have a good score, and living your life peacefully without a card is not an option, and lastly, you'll be seen as an idiot if you know nothing about it." — BizarroCullen

11. The retirement trap

"Spending 5/7ths of your life waiting for 2/7ths of it to come. We hate like 70% of our life, how is that considered fine?" — Deltext3rity

12. Yes, yes and yes

"Child beauty pageants." — throwa_way682

13. That's not justice

"The rape of male prisoners. It's almost considered a part of the sentence. People love to joke about it all the time." — visicircle

14. Customers aren't employers

"Tipping culture in the US. Everyone thinks that it's totally OK for employers not to pay the employees, and the customers are expected to pay extra to pay the employees wages. I don't understand it." — Lysdexiic

15. Staring at your phone

"Having smartphones in our faces all day. This shit isn't normal...imma do it anyway...but it is not normal." — Off_Brand_Barbie_OBB

16. Homework on weekends

"Students being assigned homework over weekends and only having a two-day weekend. The whole point of a weekend is to take a break from life, and then you have one day to recover from sleep deprivation then one day to relax which you can’t because of thinking about the next day being Monday. And the two days still having work to do anyways." — MrPers0n3O

17. Kids on social media

"Children/young teens posting on social media sites. I’m not necessarily talking about posting on a private Instagram followed by friends, I’m talking about when kids post on tiktok publicly without parental consent." — thottxy


This article originally appeared on 03.11.22

Island School Class, circa 1970s.

Parents, do you think your child would be able to survive if they were transported back to the '70s or '80s? Could they live at a time before the digital revolution put a huge chunk of our lives online?

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket, but before then, if you were in public and needed to call someone, you used a pay phone. Can you remember the last time you stuck 50 cents into one and grabbed the grubby handset?

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, roughly 100,000 pay phones remain in the U.S., down from 2 million in 1999.

Do you think a 10-year-old kid would have any idea how to use a payphone in 2022? Would they be able to use a Thomas Guide map to find out how to get somewhere? If they stepped into a time warp and wound up in 1975, could they throw a Led Zeppelin album on the record player at a party?


Another big difference between now and life in the '70s and '80s has been public attitudes toward smoking cigarettes. In 1965, 42.4% of Americans smoked and now, it’s just 12.5%. This sea change in public opinion about smoking means there are fewer places where smoking is deemed acceptable.

But in the early '80s, you could smoke on a bus, on a plane, in a movie theater, in restaurants, in the classroom and even in hospitals. How would a child of today react if their third grade teacher lit up a heater in the middle of math class?

Dan Wuori, senior director of early learning at the Hunt Institute, tweeted that his high school had a smoking area “for the kids.” He then asked his followers to share “something you experienced as a kid that would blow your children’s minds.”


A lot of folks responded with stories of how ubiquitous smoking was when they were in school. While others explained that life was perilous for a kid, whether it was the school playground equipment or questionable car seats.

Here are a few responses that’ll show today’s kids just how crazy life used to be in the '70s and '80s.

First of all, let’s talk about smoking.

Want to call someone? Need to get picked up from baseball practice? You can’t text mom or dad, you’ll have to grab a quarter and use a pay phone.

People had little regard for their kids’ safety or health.

You could buy a soda in school.

Things were a lot different before the internet.

Remember pen pals?

A lot of people bemoan the fact that the children of today aren’t as tough as they were a few decades back. But that’s probably because the parents of today are better attuned to their kids’ needs so they don't have to cheat death to make it through the day.

But just imagine how easy parenting would be if all you had to do was throw your kids a bag of Doritos and a Coke for lunch and you never worried about strapping them into a car seat?


This article originally appeared on 06.08.22

The Wallace line divides the entire Malay Archipelago.

A fascinating biological phenomenon occurs between two islands in Indonesia. An invisible line divides the entire Malay Archipelago, and on the western side, the animal life is characteristic of Asia, featuring rhinos, elephants, tigers and woodpeckers.

Contrasting this, the eastern side of the islands presents a completely different ecological cast, boasting marsupials, Komodo dragons, cockatoos and honeyeaters, often associated with Australia.

The stark differences in biodiversity on the islands captured the keen eye of British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace during his 19th-century travels through the East Indies. Even before the discovery of plate tectonics, Wallace postulated that the western islands must have once been interconnected and linked to the Asian mainland.


So, in 1859, he first sketched a line of demarcation between the zones which came to be known as the Wallace line.

The Invisible Barrier Keeping Two Worlds Apart

According to a video by PBS Eons, Wallace was onto something all those years ago. Researchers would later come to believe that the land masses on other sides of the line were once separate continents brought together by tectonic shifts.

“Today, we know them as the paleo continents of Sunda in the west and Sahul in the east, both of which existed during the ice ages when more water was locked up in ice and sea levels were lower. Wallace didn't know it, but while they’re pretty close now, the two partly-sunken continents used to be much, much further apart,” the video says. “So even though the species of each side are neighbors now, they’d been evolving separately for eons, their two worlds only colliding fairly recently in evolutionary terms.”

Representative Image From Canva
Waterpiks can be a great alternative to flossing.

Going to the dentist is not always fun. Even when there aren't any cavities to fill or root canals to be had, something about laying back on the table under a bright light while someone scrapes just below your gum line can be a bit much. Then there's the inevitable reprimand for not flossing enough for those who either have a hard time remembering or were never properly taught.

Unfortunately, not every hygienist is kind about this conversation, which can leave people feeling scolded and dreading their next appointment. In fact, it sometimes seems to be expected that the person laying in the dental chair has been given a class on proper dental hygiene. Oftentimes, that's not the case.

People learn their hygiene habits by the people who raised them, so unless you were raised by a dentist or someone in that field, you've likely picked up some not so great habits. Dental student Madina Malik has made it a personal mission to properly teach good dental hygiene in a kind and nonjudgemental way on social media.


In one of her more recent videos, someone asked her to show proper flossing techniques. People's minds were blown after seeing exactly how far up they're actually supposed to be flossing their teeth and learning the proper technique. It would seem common knowledge but it's not and Malik has no issue helping those who may have picked up a bad habit or two.

In the video posted to her TikTok page, Smiles Pending, Malik not only demonstrates on her own teeth, she explains why flossing is so important in really simple terms.

"I completely understand that a lot of times during dental appointments a dentist or hygienist may not have the time to fully explain exactly how the proper technique looks," she admits.

Malik explains that the thicker floss tends to get more things from between your teeth before moving on to reveal that at all times you'll have a "dirty" finger and a "clean" finger. That's new information for some people, but she explains in another video that spooling the floss around the "dirty" finger keeps you from adding bacteria to the next tooth you floss. Essentially, each tooth needs a new section of floss to rid the teeth of bacteria and gunk that collects between your teeth.

She then talks about the importance of flossing the back teeth due to its hard to reach positioning. Waterpiks and floss sticks do not do the same job as regular floss, because it's not just about removing debris but the cavity and gingivitis causing bacteria, says Malik in a follow up video.

As for why it's important to floss outside of avoiding the scolding in the dental chair at your six month check up? Well, according to the dental student, people should "floss the teeth that you want to keep." Now that's a statement that may need to be on a t-shirt worn by dental hygienists across the globe.

@smilespending Replying to @ashley always open go more oral hygiene questions!! #oralhealth #oralhealtheducation #flossingtechnique #flossing #oralhygiene #oralhygienetips #oralhygieneroutine #oralhealthtips ♬ original sound - Madina | D3 in nyc

People not only asked follow up questions that led to more educational videos, but they thanked her from breaking it down in an easy to understand way.

"Omg, thank you for this video. I thought something was wrong with my gums that I could go that deep. I thought that was bad," one person writes.

"I've been doing this wrong my whole life. The way I've done it...it's like I've never flossed at this point," another says.

"This was super helpful. I've never flossed my teeth cuz I honestly didn't know the proper procedure. Thank you," someone reveals.

"You're right, I have been flossing wrong my whole life. I had no idea you had to go that high into your gums! Thanks for sharing," another shares.

This series is not only helpful for people who regularly go to the dentist, it's also helpful for those who can't afford dental care. Malik's videos are chock full of information including where to get affordable dental care if you're without proper dental insurance. Judging by the comments, people are thankful for her service.