You just can’t make this up. It’s sometimes hard to tell if art is imitating life, life is imitating art, or if we’re all stuck in a perpetual cycle of both. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, are no strangers to offending people. They’ve spent 23 seasons criticizing nearly everyone for everything through parody. Most recently, they’ve offended the Chinese government. In the interest of fairness, nearly everything under the sun offends the Chinese government.
What the Episode Was About
Band in China is about Randy Marsh travelling to China to sell his marijuana. He finds himself detained in a labor camp. The episode repeatedly references a popular internet meme that compares Chinese president Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh. Citizens of China often make that joke, and it slowly gained traction around the world. The joke was popularized and made viral in the United States thanks to comedian John Oliver’s elaborate representation of the meme on his news humor show Last Week Tonight.
The episode touches on China’s culture of censorship and lack of privacy for its citizens. South Park tends to be a little “on the nose” with their criticism of whatever authority figure they’re questioning in any given episode, and it’s unlikely that the creators were surprised by the reception of the episode in China.
South Park’s Controversial History
South Park is constantly finding itself in hot water. Perhaps the biggest controversy the show’s team found itself embroiled in was a battle with the Church of Scientology. An episode parodying Scientology was pulled from circulation with Comedy Central. The show’s creators threatened to end their relationship with the network if the episode wouldn’t be rebroadcasted. The envelope pushers got their way.
South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone released the following statement in regards to “Band in China”, and no one should expect any less: “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 like Winnie the Poo at all. Tune into our 300th episode the 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?”
The Chinese Government’s Reaction
Despite the fact that the government’s oppression is an open secret, China does not allow media that acknowledges their censorship. It’s a vicious and ironic cycle that seemingly never ends. In an unsurprising move, China banned South Park. All references to South Park have been scrubbed from the Chinese internet – you can no longer search for it, read about it, or discuss it on Sina Weibo, WeChat, or Baidu.
You Can Still Watch South Park in China
Good news for Chinese South Park Fans. You can circumvent bans and region restrictions without getting blocked. TorGuard VPN works in China, and South Park is available on popular streaming services. Don’t let anybody tell you can or cannot watch – laugh at Winnie the Pooh with Trey Parker and Matt Stone.