This past episode of South Park titled “Band in China” has found itself at the heart of a huge Chinese censorship scandal. The episode released this week on Comedy Central poked fun at China’s extremely heavy censorship laws and how American Companies bend over backwards to meet China’s criteria so they can show their content to the multi-billion dollar market China has.
The Chinese government has since removed all mentions of South Park from the Chinese internet. Search inquiries for South Park come back saying, “According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open.” These messages appear on all Chinese social media and video websites. South Park fired back at the censorship by releasing a fake apology mocking the Chinese President, calling him Winne the Pooh. The apology also calls out American companies for confirming to these strict laws to make more money. Which calls into question whether companies would be willing to give up their freedom of speech to show their work in China. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone call out Disney and the NBA for giving up their right to free speech just to make some extra money in the Chinese market. At one part of the episode we see the cast of South Park taking a plane to China with the Avengers and Star Wars characters as a way of saying DIsney gave in to Chinese censorship in exchange for their market.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone bring up a good point about not conforming to censorship in any part. Part of the charm and reason why South Park has lasted 23 seasons is because they do not change their work to make people happy. They use their platform as a way of bringing attention to bigger issues like Chinese censorship because they have every right to.