South Park has made a lot of people mad during its 23 seasons on the air so far, airing words that definitely wouldn't fly on many other non-premium cable/streaming shows, being condemned for its characters, and sometimes seeming like it was trying to get itself cancelled. Now, an episode -- fittingly called "Band in China" -- went hard on the idea of Hollywood going the extra mile to avoid offending Chinese government censors, and the result is South Park getting banned in China. The creators definitely had something to say. But first, here's what happened.
After "Band in China" aired some sharp commentary on showbiz aiming not to offend the Chinese government to avoid being censored, THR reports that just about all things South Park were deleted from the internet in China, which is highly regulated.
While there were once billions of posts about the show on the Twitter-esque Weibo, there are now none to be found. Clips, episodes, and seasons are now gone from the streaming service Youku, and Chinese online discussion platform Baidu Tieba's South Park threads are no longer working.
This isn't the first time a scathing comedy series earned the ire of Chinese censorship, as John Oliver of HBO's Last Week Tonight aired a blistering commentary on Chinese President Xi Jinping and HBO was apparently banned as a result.
Unsurprisingly, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker's response to the South Park censorship was barely any less irreverent than "Band in China." Here's what they had to say:
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 Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?
Well, that's probably about the closest anybody will come to an apology from the creators of a series deemed one of the five most offensive TV shows of all time! Considering it was a short statement, Trey Parker and Matt Stone managed to pack in a lot of layers. The mention of the NBA was likely in reference to the NBA disavowing the comments of the Rockets general manager that were perceived as critical of China, after Chinese broadcasters announced that Rockets games would no longer air there and sponsors pulled funds.
The mention of Winnie the Pooh is in reference to President Xi Jinping. Some on the internet began comparing Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh, which might have come across as funny under different circumstances. Instead, the Chinese government has instead censored Winnie the Pooh, as mentioned on Last Week Tonight and what resulted in Christopher Robin not screening in China. The bear has become a symbol for many.
In many ways, being banned in China was actually great timing for generating South Park buzz in the United States. The milestone 300th episode soon airs, and more people may know about that now thanks to all the censorship news than would have otherwise.
You can catch new episodes of South Park on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central. It's one of many options on the small screen now and in the not-too-distant future. Find out when to watch what you want to watch with our 2019 fall TV premiere schedule.