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Indian AccentsBrown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film$
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Shilpa S. Davé

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037405

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037405.001.0001

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Apu’s Brown Voice

Apu’s Brown Voice

The Simpsons and Indian American Accents

(p.40) 2 Apu’s Brown Voice
Indian Accents

Shilpa S. Davé

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the character Apu, exploring how his appearance on the television show The Simpsons in the 1990s was a departure from previous Hollywood and television representations of South Asians in the United States. Whereas South Asians were previously depicted as brief visitors or exotic foreigners, Apu symbolizes a permanent Indian immigrant presence in the United States. Yet, his brown-voice performance racializes and differentiates him from other Americans. The chapter theorizes the use of brown voice and discusses how animated characters, in particular, become a significant subject to study vocal accents and voiceovers. Animated characters are unique because one of their most important defining features is their voice, and, thus, animation emphasizes the voice as a site of interest in thinking about racial performance.

Keywords:   South Asian Americans, The Simpsons, Indian immigrants, brown voice, racialization, animated characters, racial performance

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