Using the Simpsons to explain how Asian Americans are overlooked

How a 'Simpsons' character pushed Indian stereotypes

Hollywood has offered up few Asian American stars. however one of its most well-known can be a cartoon: Apu through The Simpsons.

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Indian American character who operates the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store from the fictional town of Springfield along with can be known for the catch phrase “thank you, come again,” has served as the animated series’ running immigrant punchline for almost 30 years.

“What bothered me about Apu can be how he stood in for my parents, replacing their real stories along with real struggles along with their actually complicated lives with an accent,” said comedian Hari Kondabolu in his documentary The Problem with Apu, which airs Sunday on truTV.

Since there were so few Indian Americans represented from the media, the idea was an impression which stuck.

“If which’s the way (people) know or understand your community, which’s what they are going to look for,” said Shilpa Dave, assistant professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia along with author of Indian Accents: Brown Voice along with Racial Performance in American Television along with Film.

Related: #ExpressiveAsians hashtag used to fire back at Hollywood whitewashing

Even though Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups from the U.S. — along with one of the wealthiest — they are often overlooked by marketers, advertisers along with the media.

A recently released study by researchers through several California universities found which Asian Americans along with Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) were the most underrepresented racial group on television during the 2015-2016 season.

tv series regulars by race

Of the 242 shows the researchers reviewed, 155 (or 64%) had no Asian American or Pacific Islander regulars.

“Regardless of the viewing platform, audiences may never see an AAPI regular on-screen, effectively erasing the AAPI population through a large portion of the television landscape,” the study found.

Related: Beyond ‘nerds’ along with ‘ninjas,’ slow progress for Asian actors in Hollywood

Even when there was an Asian American or Pacific Islander regular on a show, the researchers found they often got less screen time than their white counterparts along with their roles often fit into a series of racial stereotypes.

Jennifer Lee, a professor of sociology at Columbia University said Asians are often typecast as either high achieving style minorities or as service workers.

“Of course, there are Asian American cab drivers, Asian American deli owners, along with there are Asian American scientists,” she said. “however there are also Asian American journalists, there are Asian American professors … we’re just more multifaceted, especially with the second generation.”

aapi actor low visibility

A virtually untapped market

which has a population of 20.5 million from the United States, Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group from the nation — along with they wield a lot of financial power.

Currently, representing 6% of America’s population, Asian Americans are on track to surpass Hispanics as the largest immigrant group from the U.S. by 2055, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Collectively, Asian Americans represent $825 billion in purchasing power — which can be “slightly larger than the economies of all however 17 countries worldwide, along with slightly larger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of Turkey,” according to a 2016 Nielsen report on the expanding footprint of Asian Americans from the U.S.

along with across the broad spectrum of ethnicities which comprise the Asian American population from the U.S., the median household income can be $77,000. which’s more than the median household income of whites at $61,000 along with nearly twice which of blacks at $36,000 along with Hispanics at $44,800, according to Pew Research Center.

median household income us asians

“Asian Americans have enormous purchasing power,” said Lee. “Asian Americans are also accumulating wealth. They are also creating businesses.”

Yet, Asian Americans are virtually forgotten by marketers, advertisers along with the media.

The challenge can be convincing companies to see Asian Americans as consumers to go after — ones which will bring them plenty of profits.

Related: The Asian disadvantage (which’s being ignored)

“When you speak to (executives) about the numbers in a language they can understand, they’re like ‘wow,'” said Bill Imada, chairman along with chief connectivity officer of the IW Group, an advertising along with PR agency which specializes in helping companies along with brands reach communities.

the idea’s something which Kondabolu knows all too well.

“We have to prove which we are capable of generating people money. along with once you prove which, then they are interested. however they won’t take the risk. All these things involve some degree of risk,” Kondabolu said. “Increasing diversity isn’t out of a sense of justice or righteousness. the idea has to do with at the end of the day – This specific can be going to make us money. I think there’s still a degree of ‘How can I prove This specific can be a sound investment?'”

CNNMoney (brand-new York) First published November 17, 2017: 5:26 PM ET

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