UPDATE: South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have released an “Official Apology to China”. It is as sincere and heartfelt as you could imagine.
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 7, 2019
Original story below:
For all intents and purposes, it looks as though South Park is basically banned in China. This coming after last week’s episode, titled “Band in China,” which was highly critical of the stranglehold the Chinese market has over American entertainment—to the point that Stan says, “We live in a time when the only movies that us American kids go see are the ones that are approved by China.”
The story found Randy Marsh traveling to China to try and tap into the new market with his marijuana company “Tegridy Weed,” only to discover another major company has its eye on cornering the Chinese market: Disney.
Micky Mouse himself made his triumphant return in the episode, ingratiating himself to the Chinese authorities in exchange for China allowing Disney to showcase its Marvel movies, its Pixar movies, its Star Wars movies, etc. The episode went further with the commentary when Stan Marsh’s band gets tapped for the biopic treatment, only to run into creative interference as producers want to make sure the movie will be accepted by Chinese authorities and can thus reap in Chinese box office receipts. The episode also poked fun at the nation’s ban on Winnie the Pooh in hilariously graphic form.
South Park isn’t wrong. As recently as last year, Bohemian Rhapsody was undergoing edits to make it more Chinese-friendly—including toning down Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality. And Disney has gone the pandering route before, most glaringly in Iron Man 3 for which subplot scenes were specifically shot using famous Chinese actors that would only appear in the Chinese release of the film. Interestingly enough, it backfired and Chinese audiences hated the new scenes.
But I digress. In the case of South Park, InkStone (via IndieWire) reports that as of Monday, October 7th, reviews for all of South Park’s 23 seasons have been scraped from the Chinese internet, and the social media service Weibo now yields no results when searching for South Park. To go one further, the forum Baidu Tieba says the South Park page “has been suspended according to relevant laws and regulations.”
It’s worth noting that South Park has never officially been released in China, but pirated versions have been abundant for some time. So it appears as though this most recent episode of the series finally spurred the government to crack down by removing the show from the internet entirely.
So, yeah. That’s extremely not cool, but given the title of the episode, you have to imagine South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone knew exactly what they were doing. It’s not as if this is their first brush with controversy.
South Park airs Wednesday nights on Comedy Central.