Entertainment giant Disney has removed an episode of the long-running animated series The Simpsons from its streaming platform in Hong Kong due to the episode mocking Chinese censorship, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Up until recently, every episode of the 32-year-old show was available on Disney’s exclusive streaming platform, Disney+. However, users in Hong Kong have since noted that an episode released in 2005, “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” no longer shows up on the platform. The episode features the titular family visiting Tiananmen Square, and pokes fun at the Chinese government’s censorship with a plaque at the scene that simply reads “On this site in 1989, nothing happened.”
The incident reflects China’s growing stranglehold on the American entertainment industry, and particularly Disney. The company has come under fire in recent years for numerous acts of pandering to the Chinese government, even going so far as to defend its human rights violations. Last year’s live-action remake of Mulan was filmed in parts of the Xinjiang region, which is notorious for being the location of numerous concentration camps for Uyghur Muslims. The lead actress in the film, Liu Yifie, faced backlash after openly voicing her support for the Hong Kong police beating pro-democracy protesters in the streets; despite calls to boycott the film and her career, she did not apologize for her comments.
In less extreme examples, Disney has frequently edited its movie posters for use in China, often for the purpose of removing any prominent black actors, such as the poster for the 2015 “Star Wars” reboot, The Force Awakens. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Disney has openly supported the violent and racist Black Lives Matter movement, with Disney donating up to $5 million to various “social justice” groups last year after the accidental fentanyl overdose death of George Floyd.
China has also expanded its real-world reach in recent years, solidifying its power over both Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the case of the former, the Hong Kong government recently passed a law allowing broader censorship of films and other forms of entertainment, in compliance with censorship laws in the mainland. In the case of the latter, the Chinese military has grown increasingly hostile, flying more of its warplanes into Taiwanese airspace in open acts of military strength and political intimidation.