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Disney Censors Tiananmen Square Simpsons Episode in Hong Kong

The episode mocks Mao Zedong and Chinese Communist Party censorship

December 1, 2021 5:09pm

Updated: December 1, 2021 5:54pm

An episode of The Simpsons showing the Tiananmen Square massacre and making fun of Chinese Communist Party censorship was removed from Disney’s streaming platform in Hong Kong.

In the 2005 episode “Goo Goo Gai Pan” the Simpsons visit Beijing. During the trip, the family goes to the site of the Tiananmen Square massacre, where there is a plate that reads “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”

The episode mocks Mao Zedong, with Homer Simpson calling him “a little angel that killed 50 million people.” The episode also depicts the iconic “Tank Man,” the dissident who blocked a military tank during the pro-democracy protests of 1989.  

Soon after Disney+ launched in Hong Kong earlier this month, viewers noticed that the episode was missing.

It is still unclear whether the Communist Party pressured Disney to remove the episode from Disney+ or if it was removed proactively by the company. However, the removal of the Simpson’s episode might be the latest example of Hollywood caving to Beijing’s censorship.

Despite Hong Kong having more political freedom compared to the mainland, authorities have been implementing censorship laws.  

Last month, China placed a new legislature banning films that were contrary to China’s national security interests. Some movies have been ordered to cut scenes, while others have been banned from public showings. People who exhibit such films could face up to three years in jail and a fine of $130,000.

The censorship laws have been particularly strict when it comes to any mention of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, where thousands died when the Communist Chinese government opened fire on students and protesters. The Chinese Communist Party actively restricts and removes images and reports of the massacre.