With its most recent episode, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s fearless animated TV series, South Park, has garnered a great deal of attention across the world.
The highly controversial Season 23 episode, Band in China, premiered last Wednesday, Oct. 2, and less than a week later was banned in China (no pun intended), according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Most traces of the much-beloved series have now been erased from the Chinese web, with clips, episodes and even online discussion threads or social media posts relating to South Park being taken down.
Why, some might ask? Because Band in China heavily mocks not just the state of Hollywood, but China’s censorship standards, too.
The premise of the Parker-directed episode suggests that major film production companies, namely Disney, will go to great lengths to censor blockbuster films in order to avoid offending the Chinese government and subsequently earn the international market.
In the episode, Randy Marsh, one of South Park’s main characters, sets off to China in hopes of expanding his marijuana business. Along the way, he meets a variety of Disney characters, all travelling to the communist country with aims of striking a deal with the Chinese government.
One scene depicts Mickey Mouse watching closely over a number of other beloved Disney icons and Marvel superheroes while he encourages them to entertain the local authorities and earn their trust.
Because he enters the country with marijuana, Randy is quickly thrown into jail, where he meets a locked up and miserable Winnie the Pooh.
Pooh bear has been aggressively censored in China since the election of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2012. The reason? Over the years, the 66-year-old leader has been popularly compared to the cartoon bear on various social media platforms.
WATCH: A snippet from ‘South Park’s’ highly controversial ‘Band in China’ episode
Meanwhile, Stan, Kenny, Butters and Jimmy form a death metal band at home in South Park. After becoming international stars, they’re offered a film deal. The script, however, needs to be continuously revised in order for the band, Crimson Dawn, to appeal to the Chinese government.
In response to the ban, Parker and Stone issued an official statement to South Park’s Twitter page.
The post, marked as an “apology,” read “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!” they added. “Long live the Great Communist Part of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful!”
“We good now China?” the creators joked in conclusion.
As reported by the Hollywood Reporter, when typing South Park into China’s largest online forum, Baidu Tieba, the following message appears: “According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open.”
Brand new episodes of South Park Season 23 air every Wednesday night.
Full episodes, including Band in China, can be found through the official South Park Studios website.