South Park China

More than 20 years after its Comedy Central debut, South Park is still generating controversy.

The show’s most recent episode, “Band in China,” has apparently actually been banned in China because Chinese censors didn’t appreciate the episode’s depiction of the country’s authoritarian regime. Practically all signs of the show have been scrubbed from the Chinese internet, and now creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have issued an “official apology” in response. (Spoiler alert: it’s not a real apology.)

The tweet reads:

“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 NBA line is referring to a recent situation in which Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, tweeted his support for pro-democracy protests that have been raging for weeks in Hong Kong against the oppressive Chinese government. Chinese broadcasters said they would no longer air Houston Rockets games in the country, and since NBA basketball is popular there, the NBA put out a statement saying that they have “great respect for the culture and history of China,” a statement many saw as cowardly.

In the “Band in China” episode of South Park, Randy Marsh heads to China to sell weed, but he’s arrested and put in prison, where he sees Winnie the Pooh and Piglet imprisoned as well. (Chinese president Xi Jinping has been compared to Pooh in viral memes criticizing him, and he was…not happy about it.) Meanwhile, Stan, Jimmy, Kenny, and Butters form a popular metal band, but a subsequent film about them constantly undergoes changes so it can gain the approval of Chinese censors.

In reaction to the episode, THR says those Chinese censors have deleted “virtually every clip, episode and online discussion of the show from Chinese streaming services, social media and even fan pages…A search of the Twitter-like social media service Weibo turns up not a single mention of South Park among the billions of past posts. On streaming service Youku, owned by Internet giant Alibaba, all links to clips, episodes and even full seasons of the show are now dead.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time South Park has found itself at the center of controversy. The show has been mired in it practically since its first episode back in 1997, shouldering everything from parent complaints over the show’s use of foul language to one of its actors, Isaac Hayes, leaving the series because a particularly memorable episode referred to Scientology as a scam. So while the world burns around us, one thing remains the same: South Park will be there to piss people off – well, for at least three more seasons, anyway.

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