The 23rd season of South Park is currently underway but it seems audiences in China won’t get to see past the second episode, as it’s now been banned because of a joke in the show.
The animated series has been known to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable on TV, and while they’ve been getting away with questionable comments and storylines for a number of years, it seems they’ve finally crossed the line.
Season 23 kicked off with an episode titled Mexican Joker, which focused on the culture of fear in America today, and after mocking their home country the creators turned their attention to China.
It wasn’t long before the second episode, titled Band In China, lived up to its title.
You can watch a clip from the episode here:
Kyle returns to South Park and gives Stan a great idea, but the boys realize they can't betray their ideals. Watch the all-new episode, “Band In China” for FREE – https://t.co/oktKSJvjxS #southpark23 #fingerbang pic.twitter.com/Bq5K6gWjOV
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 3, 2019
During the most recent episode, the characters of South Park weighed ethical principles against the prospect of making money in China, and mocked Hollywood for shaping its content to avoid offending the Chinese government.
One of the episode’s storylines involves the character Randy getting caught attempting to sell weed in China and getting sent to a work camp. While he’s there, Randy runs into an imprisoned Winnie the Pooh – a character the country has also censored in the past.
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 6, 2019
A second storyline sees Stan, Jimmy, Kenny and Butters forming a metal band, which becomes popular and attracts the attention of a manager who wants to make a film about them, however the script keeps changing so the film can safely be distributed in China.
During the episode, a record executive explains: ‘You have to lower your ideals of freedom, if you want to suck on the warm teat of China.’ To which Stan replies: ‘Now I know how Hollywood writers feel.’
Following its release, virtually every clip, episode and online discussion of the show was deleted from Chinese streaming services, social media and even fan pages, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you wanna suck on the warm teat of China. #southpark23
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 7, 2019
According to the outlet, Chinese social media site Weibo responds to a search of South Park with zero results, and all links to clips and seasons of the show are now dead on the streaming service Youku.
If users manually type in the URL for what was formerly the South Park thread on Baidu’s Tieba, China’s largest online discussions platform, a message reportedly appears saying: ‘According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open.’
Neither Comedy Central nor the creators of South Park appear to have commented on the ban at this time.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.