The Chinese government has scrubbed nearly all content related to South Park from its Internet after the long-running Comedy Central show released an episode that heavily criticized the country, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The erasure reportedly covers not just South Park episodes and clips, but any online discussion of the show, plus social media and fan pages. Searching for the show on China’s Twitter-esque service, Weibo, yields no results, and reportedly typing in the URL to the show’s old homepage on the popular forum, Tieba, brings about the message, “According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open.”
On Twitter, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker responded to the scrubbing with an “official apology,” writing, “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 episode in question, “Band in China,” aired Wednesday, October 2nd. The episode takes aim at China in two different ways: In one storyline, Randy gets caught trying to sell weed in China and ends up in a work camp similar to the kind where millions of Chinese Muslims have been placed for political indoctrination. While there, Randy meets an incarcerated Winnie the Pooh, a gag that thematically dovetails with the other storyline, in which Stan, Jimmy, Kenny and Butters start a metal band that attracts a manager who wants to make a movie about the group, but ends up constantly changing the script so it will appease censors in China.
The Chinese government has been known to heavily censor, or outright ban, Hollywood movies featuring content that it finds objectionable, such as homosexuality and anything that could be construed as critical of the government. This includes Winnie the Pooh, because resistance figures have taken to comparing Chinese leader Xi Jingping to the character, which reportedly led to the 2018 Pooh film, Christopher Robin, being banned.
The Chinese government deciding to scrub South Park from the Internet happens at the same time that the NBA is trying to appease Beijing after the Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, posted a tweet in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. In response, Chinese censors announced they would not be broadcasting Rockets games and local sponsors axed their deals with the team. The NBA ultimately apologized for Morey’s comments.