Disney Yanks China-Mocking Simpsons Episode From Its Hong Kong Streaming Service
from the for reasons only understandable to multi national conglomerates dept
The only thing that can be gained from maintaining whatever the fuck a “good relationship” with the world’s most powerful autocracy is… more subjugation! Who would want that?
I wish this was rhetorical but it seems plenty of entities want to be bossed around by the Big Red Bully, ranging from the NBA to a variety of tech companies which consider a potential market of billions more valuable than their credibility.
So, who’s caving to the always unreasonable demands of China and its head of state, Winnie the Pooh? Why, it’s none other than Disney, the current host for every Simpsons episode ever. And what’s getting pulled? It’s a Simpsons episode that chose to portray China the way China would not choose to portray China, according to this report from Narayan Liu for CBR.com.
Disney+ recently launched in the Hong Kong, a special administrative region that, until recently, officially functioned separately from China. Not everything will be available to Hong Kong viewers, however, as subscribers have found at least one episode of The Simpsons has been removed due to a reference to the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Numerous subscribers and reports have surfaced, showing that the Season 16 episode “Goo Goo Gai Pan” has been removed in Hong Kong.
What’s wrong with this episode? Tough to say since it simply repeats (mocks) the official party line. Here’s a screenshot of the “offending” language China feels is too subversive to allow Hong Kong viewers to enjoy for what must be at least the umpteenth time.
It’s a shot of the place where things happened in 1989, most notably a Chinese citizen staring down a line of tanks. But the Chinese government continues to insist this is a collective delusion and has worked as tirelessly as a country of kowtowed billions can to erase history. In this Simpsons episode, the illusion is complete. If you can’t read/see the screenshot, it shows a monument apparently erected in Tiananmen Square that reads:
TIAN AN MEN SQUARE
ON THIS SITE, IN 1989,
That’s what the Chinese government wants everyone to pretend to believe. So, what’s the problem? Well, I guess Chinese censors are at least able to discern context when they want to. And since this isn’t officially issued propaganda, it has to go.
But it doesn’t. Disney could have ignored demands to remove the episode, if there actually were any demands. It could be a proactive move by Disney which makes it even worse. A country known for its casual disrespect for American copyrights and trademarks should be way up on Disney’s shitlist, considering its efforts to extend all things IP to forever and a day.
Disney should be willing to flip the bird to a nation full of casual IP violators. Somehow, it’s apparently not up to the task. Instead, it has (preemptively or otherwise) caved to the overseer of millions of infringers in the apparent hopes of retaining some relationship to millions of Hong Kong streamers, as well as the billions just over the imaginary property line that separates the region the Chinese government was supposed to leave unmolested for the next couple of decades.
Once again, we must ask: what is the fucking endgame? Do American companies actually believe that adhering their tongues to the underside of the Chinese government’s boot will somehow exclude them from future censorship demands? All signs point to No.
So… is it easier than showing spine? It must be because we’ve seen similar acts far too often. China may have a supply chain stranglehold, but it relies on a steady supply of customers in other nations. With a little collective effort, this imbalance of power can be leveraged to make China more amenable to the freedoms enjoyed by customers around the world who purchase its products.