The Little Tragedy of Hank Azaria
This week, Donald Trump ended the Korean War. Kanye West gave us a lesson in political realism and courage. "America's Dad" was convicted of being a serial rapist. And the United Kingdom celebrated the birth of a royal child while decreeing the death of a commoner's child, causing me to say a little prayer of thanks to the farmers of Lexington-Concord.
In all that dreamlike craziness, you could be forgiven for missing the little tragedy of Hank Azaria. After all, he was just one more celebrity bullied into conformity by the leftwing fascists who dominate our culture. Canadian singer Shania Twain was also pressured to backtrack after praising Donald Trump. And Chance the Rapper, who tweeted that black people don't have to be Democrats, was also forced to apologize, so I guess black people do have to be Democrats after all.
But what happened to Azaria seemed especially sad to me. Maybe it's personal. My father was a celebrated "voice man," a radio performer renowned for doing hundreds of silly character voices. Azaria, who does more than two dozen of the voices on The Simpsons, may well be the greatest talent in this field since Mel Blanc, who populated the world of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes by doing every character from Bugs Bunny to Daffy Duck to Tweetie Pie, Sylvester Cat and all the rest.
It is a joyful and delightful gift — to me, anyway. I asked to meet Azaria once when I happened to be on a set where he was. A producer brought me to his trailer. I wanted to tell him about my old man, but I (who have calmly met some of the biggest stars in the world without being rattled at all) was so starstruck I forgot what I wanted to say. I mumbled something laudatory and Azaria was pleasant and kind.
Among the brilliant Simpson characters Azaria does is Apu, an Indian-American grocer. Like all the characters on The Simpsons, Apu is a stereotype. As with all the characters, we laugh at his silliness but also appreciate his humanity. There is no character on the show who does not fit this description. That's why, at its best, it's a great show.
So some Indian-American comedian or other made some documentary or other about Apu and how "problematic" he is to this comedian's delicate Indian-American identity. Among his other complaints, he objects to the fact that Apu is voiced by a white man. The Simpsons responded with a funny scene basically telling this comedian to pound sand. The cultural left, including the documentary guy, was incensed. Why? Because their bullying depends on people being scared and apologizing. Once people stop fearing them, the cultural left has no power at all. They're just a bunch of would-be thought police.