On Sunday, Comedy Central aired a new episode of “South Park” that took several digs at the Chinese government. On Monday, Sino authorities responded by wiping out all content and mentions of the adult animated series from the local Internet.
The Offending Episode
Entitled “Band in China,” the offending “South Park” episode told two stories about Chinese censorship.
In one plot, inept weed farmer Randy Marsh attempted to sell his product in the Communist nation. However, as Beijing has outlawed marijuana, local police quickly placed Randy under arrest. While in custody, he offers a blistering critique of Chinese authoritarianism.
“South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone also mocked Beijing’s bizarre outlawing of Winnie the Pooh.
Alongside Randy’s story, his son Stan formed a new death metal band called Crimson Dawn. Soon after, a music producer approaches the foul-mouthed fourth-grader with an offer to make a movie about his group. Initially elated, Stan is dismayed when Chinese officials began censoring Crimson Dawn’s output.
All in all, the episode offered pointed critiques of both Chinese authoritarianism and its morally corrosive impact on Hollywood. Accordingly, Sino authorities immediately moved to wipe out all traces of the series from the nation.
In China, the government maintains tight control of all content distributed via the Internet. Accordingly, once local authorities announced the ban of “South Park,” all online references to the series vanished. The Hollywood Reporter notes that clips and episodes of the show can no longer be found in the country.
Youku, a YouTube-like streaming service, used to host full seasons of the satirical program. Now, the company’s “South Park” related pages have gone dark. Weibo, a Sino social networking site with more than 462 million monthly active users, doesn’t contain a single mention of the program.
Furthermore, Baidu Tieba, a popular communication platform, now returns a message reading “According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open” when users search for information on the show. It’s as if the country’s entire Internet was subjected to a precise Thanos snap directed only at “South Park” mentions.
In response to the ban, “South Park’s” creators issued a biting mock apology to the Chinese government.
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 7, 2019
“Band in China” Sequel?
Ironically enough, “Band in China” aired right before a new controversy exploded involving the Asian superpower and another American institution. As mentioned by Parker and Stone’s anti-apology, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has run afoul of Beijing.
Last Friday, the Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support of the ongoing Hong Kong protests. Though the executive promptly deleted and apologized for his message, it still prompted an intense backlash in China.
Li Ning and the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank announced that they are pausing their business relationship with the Rockets. Tencent, a Chinese tech conglomerate that streams NBA content in China, says that it won’t broadcast future Rockets games. Moreover, China Central Television declared that it plans to remove the team’s games from its airing schedule and won’t show any preseason NBA contests.
Notably, the Los Angeles Lakers will face the Brooklyn Nets in a pair of exhibition games in China later this week.
Given the firestorm that followed Morey’s tweet, “South Park” might produce a sequel to “Band in China” soon. Indeed, the NBA has given Parker and Stone a wealth of material to jumpstart a new episode with.