‘South Park’ Episode ‘Band In China’ About Chinese Censorship Gets Banned In China

Alfie PowellAlfie Powell in Entertainment, TV
Published 08.10.19

Matt Stone and Trey Parker – the creators of South Park – have responded after their show was banned in China after their criticisms of Chinese censorship.

I spent £2.49 on this episode so I could understand the article I was going to write. Maybe it was my fault for not streaming this illegally but I’m feeling pretty sore about that transaction. The things I’ll do for you guys.

The latest South Park episode Band in China saw a lot happen – and I released that much has changed since I last watched the show like four years ago – but mainly, Randy now owns a weed farm and Stan’s sick of living in the plantation.

With that, Stan forms a death metal band with music full of angst and Randy travels to China to break into the “Chinese market”. As Stan’s band gets signed, he’s immediately goaded into making a biopic about their story, but soon gets frustrated by the constant censorship from Chinese investors that Hollywood are abiding by so their films can be profitable in the far East.

The whole episode criticises every company’s desire to break into the Chinese market, while mainly aiming their distain at Hollywood, who apparently sacrifice good filmmaking and beliefs in order to make money from a country who allegedly treat many of their citizens with little-to-no respect.

Why was South Park banned in China?

As you might expect, the episode didn’t go down too well with certain Chinese audiences, and completely ignoring the irony that it also delved into how Winnie the Pooh was banned in the country after similarities were drawn between the Chinese president and the fictional bear, they banned the cartoon show.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, almost every mention, clip, episode and clip of South Park has been wiped from Chinese streaming and social media sites and because of that, the creators were backed into a corner to make an official apology.

The apology was posted to Twitter and was immediately identifiable as about as tongue in cheek as you could expect, reading:

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.

The then promote the new episode, before concluding:

Long live the Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?

It’s hard to argue with South Park‘s stance, to be perfectly honest, and it’s always blatantly clear when certain things have been changed in films – such as the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange rather than a Tibetan actor – or entire films have been made – almost every Michael Bay Transformers film – for Chinese audiences.

Obviously I’m not saying that films should be made that alienate entire audiences, but when films are made this way, they alienate many, many more people than would be intended.

It’s a case of Chinese authorities needing to calm down, rather than the public needing to change their interests. Even as I’m writing this for The Hook of all places, I’m sort of worried. That’s not right, is it? Mind you, I’m probably just being paranoid.

We’ll see how this one pans out.

Images via Comedy Central, Getty