Disney has removed an episode of The Simpsons that mocks Chinese censorship from its streaming service in Hong Kong.
That's right. At the behest of China, Disney has censored an episode that mocks Chinese censorship. You can't make this stuff up.
On Disney+ in Hong Kong, The Simpsons' 16th season jumps from episode 11 to 13. Episode 12, which aired in 2005, tells the story of Homer taking his family to China to visit Tiananmen Square. In the episode, the Simpson family comes across a placard that reads, "On this site, in 1989, nothing happened."
Here's a look:
For context, the Chinese Communist Party has immediately scrubbed any mention of the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy student protestors in Mainland China for decades.
In addition, the Hollywood Reportersays, "the episode also follows the Simpson family as they visit the mummified remains of ex-leader Mao Zedong and come across a row of tanks in Beijing, referencing the iconic 'tank man' photo taken during the 1989 student uprising."
Later in the episode, Homer describes Mao Zedong as "a little angel that killed 50 million people," a line written to mock Chinese propaganda.
According to The Blaze, Disney's censorship marks the first time a major American media company has suppressed anti-CCP content in Hong Kong, though it likely won't be the last.
The streaming wars in China are of particular interest to U.S. services because Netflix, the leading platform in the U.S, is not available in China. Netflix blames the country's "regulatory environment" for the lack of a relationship, while its competitors likely believe they must comply with China's regulatory demands to dethrone Netflix. Filmmakers associated with various services already write scripts to include China and Chinese characters to capitalize on the lucrative Chinese box office.
Disney has yet to respond to multiple requests for comments about its plans in China moving forward.