South Park has been banned in China and the creators’ response is, well, just exactly what you’d expect from the makers of the controversial 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, their latest episode, Band In China, crossed a line.
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.
You can see 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
The entire episode was essentially one big joke about the Chinese government’s apparent love of censorship and Hollywood’s desire to please the country with their content.
One storyline saw Stan’s effervescent dad 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 censored in the past after he was compared to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
A second storyline follows Stan, Jimmy, Kenny and Butters as they form 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.
You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you wanna suck on the warm teat of China. #southpark23
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 7, 2019
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.’
It’s clear officials in China didn’t take kindly to the storylines, as they decided to wipe literally every trace of the show’s existence from the country’s internet in response to the episode.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, 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.’
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 6, 2019
South Park’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have since issued a statement about the ban. They call it an ‘official apology’, but the amount of satire involved really undercuts the apologetic sentiment.
The apology opened with a reference to recent manoeuvrings between the NBA and China after Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted his support for Hong Kong’s independence.
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 7, 2019
Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy.
Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?
The creators went on to tweet a link to the full episode, encouraging fans of the show to see exactly why the Chinese government were so angry with it.
Unsurprisingly, the apology doesn’t appear to have had any effect on South Park’s ban in the country.
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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.