It shouldn’t be a surprise that Bill Maher is in The Simpsons corner when it comes to the controversy over Apu and Hari Kondabolu’s documentary on the character. The Real Time host addressed the topic during his “New Rules” segment on Friday, wrapping it into a discussion about Molly Ringwald’s recent look back at The Breakfast Club and the re-examination of the jokes on shows like Friends. For Maher, he feels that younger generations need to cool it if the older media they happen upon isn’t as “woke” as they would like it:
“Stop being surprised every time you watch an old movie or TV show and find some of the ideas in it are – old”
With this, Maher shares a few of his insights on the specific examples. He calls out Ringwald’s criticism of The Breakfast Club and John Hughes’ other films, saying the films were “teen comedies, not snuff films.” But his take on The Simpsons might be a little worse, defending the stereotype and seemingly calling out Kondabolu without naming him according to Deadline.
“If you spend your time combing through old TV shows to identify stuff that by today’s standards looks bad, you’re not ‘woke’, you’re just a douchebag.”
Maher’s criticism does seem to miss the point, where the controversy seems less about condemning the older works and more about learning from the past to avoid the same mistakes.
The host almost addresses this by the end of the segment, but only after comparing his examples to older generations using “heroin” as children’s medicine and driving without seatbelts:
“We’re never finished evolving. No matter how ‘woke’ you think you are, you are tolerating things right now that will make you cringe in 25 years: Beauty pageants, mass incarceration, putting our parents in old-age homes, how we treat animals.”
There is some truth here, sure, but it still seems like it is missing the driving message behind why these new takes on old media are happening. If anything, look back at things The Love Guru and Ashton Kutcher’s PopChips ad to see why it is a relevant conversation to have.