South Park is no stranger to controversy and that's certainly the case just two episodes into season 23. The Comedy Central series' episode "Band in China" ended up being banned in China, scrubbed from its internet and streaming sites. Now, series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are responding to the ban with a statement that is perfectly on brand for South Park, using their statement to take a jab not only at the censorship, but at the NBA for their recent apology to China as well.
In the statement, Parker and Stone invoked the NBA, taking shots at the organization's recent attempt to smooth things over with China after general manager of the NBA's Houston Rockets Daryl Morey expressed support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
"Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts," the statement reads. "We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doens't look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10 p.m. Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?"
What started the situation was, the "Band in China" episode of South Park which saw Randy Marsh -- who currently owns Tegrity Farms, a marijuana business -- decide to open up the Chinese market to legal weed. At the same time, Stan Marsh and friends start a heavy metal band and are "discovered" and the record label retools the band to a more Chinese market-friendly concept. It's meant to be commentary on the Hollywood practice of molding export content to China's censorship policies. The episode also openly mocks China’s authoritative grasp on its citizens through censorship. The main example in the episode is Winnie the Pooh and Piglet being locked in Chinese jail because of a popular meme that compares China's president Xi to Pooh.
As you might guess, China didn't take kindly to that. Everything about South Park vanished from China's internet and social media, including mentions on the country's Twitter-like Weibo, while links to episodes and seasons on streaming services no longer work. Even manual attempts to locate message threads come back with a notice that "According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Based on the language of Parker and Stone's statement and given the show's previous experiences with controversy, it's not likely anything is going to change in terms of South Park's content. In 2010, South Park's 200th episode -- appropriately named "200" -- resulted in the series being banned in Sri Lanka after the episode depicted the Buddha snorting cocaine.
What do you think about Parker and Stone's statement? What's your take on China's reaction to "Band in China"? Let us know in the comments below.