In something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, satirical animated program South Park has been banned in China over a recent episode, fittingly titled ‘Band In China’.
While the topic of internet censorship in China has been an ongoing topic for many years now, recent years have seen attention drawn to it once again thanks to – of all things – Winnie The Pooh.
Back in 2017, Chinese censorship began to receive publicity again after images of Winnie The Pooh were banned due to memes being made that compared Chinese Paramount leader and General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping to the cartoon bear.
Soon, this ban extended to films like 2018’s Christopher Robin, while references to the name ‘Winnie’ have been censored from a number of video games, causing protesters to even adopt the A. A. Milne creation as something of a mascot of their cause.
Last week, South Park set the topic of Chinese censorship in their sights (along with musical biopics, US immigration tactics, and marijuana dispensaries) in an episode titled ‘Band In China’, which has since been, well, banned in China.
In the episode, the character of Randy Marsh travels to China, only to be arrested after being found with marijuana in his luggage. During his imprisonment, he meets characters such as Winnie The Pooh, who had been arrested for his similarities to Xi Jinping, and is sent to a work camp.
Meanwhile, son Stan is approached by a producer who wishes to make a biopic of his death metal band, Crimson Dawn (whose music is provided by Dying Fetus).
However, the project runs into trouble after Chinese censors disagree with a lot of the film’s content, drawing parallels with how Bohemian Rhapsody had been banned in Malaysia over the country’s anti-homosexuality laws.
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 7, 2019
As The Hollywood Reporter notes though, the creators have drawn the ire of China, who have since banned South Park and related keywords from the internet due to the content of the episode.
As it stands, any video clip, episode, or forum that discusses the show have been made inaccessible, while social media and fan pages have also been removed, effectively resulting in a blanket ban of the program across the country.
In response to the ban, series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone took to social media to issue a mocking ‘apology’ to Chinese officials, referencing an ongoing controversy surrounding Daryl Morey, owner of the Houston Rockets in the NBA.
“Official apology to China from Trey Parker and Matt Stone,” the message began.
“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?”
While it doesn’t seem as though Chinese censors will be reversing their decision any time soon, we can’t really imagine South Park creators thought this situation would turn out any differently.