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The Problem With Bumblebee Man


There is a really great documentary out called ‘The Problem with Apu’ which examines the classic Simpson’s character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. You know, the Indian dude that runs the Kwik-E-Mart and is voiced by Hank Azaria. No one doubts how great The Simpsons once was and I always liked the character of Apu. But the doc asks the question if we really need a stereotypical portrayal of an Indian immigrant voiced by a White dude in 2018. Many would say we do not, and I definitely get it. But it got me to thinking about Bumblebee Man. If we are going to object to one stereotype, why not a Latino one?

Bumblebee Man is a character on the Spanish station in Springfield who is based on El Chapulin Colorado as played by the brilliant Chespirito. I LOVE El Chapulin Colorado. And yes, he is an older man in a spandex costume with deely-boppers on his head. But you have to admit that Bumblebee Man is a bit of a stereotype. They capture what seems absurd to the American audience when they come across the wackiness of Spanish TV. But they kind of miss the point.

The brilliance of El Chapulin Colorado is that the character satirizes superhero tropes by creating a hero who is an inept idiot. If you are kidnapped by baddies, you DO NOT want El Chapulin coming to your aid. But Bumblebee Man lacks this nuance. And unlike Apu, this character has never really been fleshed out. With a few exceptions like a cameo by Tito Puente, there aren’t very many Latinos in Springfield. Just idiotic Bumblebee Man.

African-Americans faired a little better. You have Carl who is just a regular dude and has the same job as Homer and Dr. Hibbert who is a successful African-American doctor. Sure, Bumblebee Man is a TV star but he nevergets the respect of a Krusty the Klown. Not to mention the fact that Bumblebee Man is voiced by Hank Azaria, the same White dude who voices Apu.

Look, all I’m saying is that if we as a society have decided that Apu should at the very least be voiced by a South Asian actor, shouldn’t Bumblebee Man also? Think about it.

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