South Park is no stranger to controversy or political commentary, but the animated series may have hit an all-time high in both regards to its most recent episode. The second episode of season 23, titled Band in China, deals with the notion of censorship in the country, and how media companies avoid doing anything to upset those censors so that their content will be accepted in China. Ironically enough, that has led to the country's censors to seemingly ban South Park.
According to several reports, South Park has been scrubbed from the highly-regulated internet in China. Virtually no clips, episodes or even mentions of the show can be found online, as discovered through searching the nation's popular social media site Weibo, streaming service Youku and Baidu's Tieba, one of the country's largest discussion platforms. All threads relating to the show have been scrubbed from the service. Those who search for said threads are greeted with the following message.
"According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open."
The episode in question features Randy Marsh getting in big trouble on a visit to China, where he was trying to sell weed. Randy is then sent to a work camp, similar to those found in Beijing. Meanwhile, Stan, Jimmy, Kenny and Butters start a band that gains popularity, ultimately leading to a manager wanting to make a movie about them, only for the story to become diluted so that it can be shown in China. The episode is now available to stream online and when the link was shared by the show's Twitter account, it came with the following line from the episode.
"You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you wanna suck on the warm teat of China."
At present, there is a massive swell of pro-democracy protests in China, which has led to political unrest. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey recently shared a tweet in support of the protestors, which the NBA distanced itself from, over fear of losing out on money, since Chinese broadcasters announced they would stop airing Rockets games, with local sponsors pulling out as well. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued a statement on the matter, which reads as follows.
"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 like Winnie the Poo at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10 p.m. Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?"
Chinese president Xi Jinping is often compared to Winnie the Pooh and the character is aggressively censored in the country, which is where that part of the statement comes from. It's clear Trey Parker and Matt Stone anticipated some level of blowback. Still, it's remarkable they happened to have their fingers so firmly on the pulse this time around. This news comes to us via The Hollywood Reporter.