In true South Park fashion, the show courted controversy with the second episode of Season 23. Now, after that controversy, they have tripled down on the criticism of the Chinese government and anyone who even looks like they stand with that regime, including LeBron James. Earlier this week, the Lakers superstar sparked a torrent of outrage online when he critiqued Houston Rockets General Manager’s tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters. James would later go on to clarify that he meant his criticism more toward tweeting that out without concern for the consequences, but the damage is done. People have taken shots at James his entire career, but this misstep has left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to hop aboard that wave in this week’s episode. South Park students volley for change in their school’s lunch menu and successfully secure healthier options. Then an irate Cartman directly quotes LeBron James’ statement about Morey. He said, “Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you are not thinking about others and only thinking about yourself!.” Pretty harsh skewering from the show, but that wasn’t all as Carman parodies James’ popular Taco Tuesday posts to boot.
Comedy Central’s landmark series poured some gasoline on this fire with an episode that many would have believed to be a one-off thing. But, after the Morey situation exploded online, the critique hit home harder for a lot of people. China went so far as to ban the show after the episode aired. Mentions of the show on social media, clips, gifs and everything else got the ax after “Band in China” aired. The proceeding episode decided to address it in full with a couple of characters launching into a full-scale tirade about the situation in China. Numerous instances of the F-bomb directly aimed at the country and its leadership. A strongly-worded statement followed shortly after.
"Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts," the scathing statement from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone read. "We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn't look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune in to our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10 p.m. Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumns sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?"
Image courtesy: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports