If an episode of South Park that satirizes the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was conspicuously excluded from an American streamer’s Hong Kong site, Trey Parker and Matt Stone would skewer them for it. However, Disney+ did exactly that when it censored the episode of The Simpsons wherein Homer Simpson visited Beijing for its HK customers. According to google, there has been no response from Matt Groening yet. If you live in Hong Kong, you can’t watch “Goo Goo Gai Pan” (S16 E12), but the rest of us still can, for now.
Homer has an awkward relationship with his sister-in-law Selma Bouvier, but when she enters menopause, he agrees to pretend to be her husband, to facilitate her Chinese adoption. Naturally, their romantic chemistry is a bit dubious, attracting the suspicions of Madame Wu, the chief adoption bureaucrat (played by Lucy Liu).
This being The Simpsons, there are plenty of slams on America (mostly easy groaners). However, writer Dana Gould also aimed a number of clever barbs at the CCP. The one most likely to offend the CCP would be the briefly seen Tiananmen Square Monument reading: “on this site, in 1989, nothing happened.” So, Disney+ is literally self-censoring a joke about the Communist Party censoring history. How sad is that? Especially since it shortly preceded the removal of Tiananmen Square memorials across Hong Kong, including the notorious dismantling of the Pillar of Shame statue at the University of Hong Kong.
Gould wrote some funny China-specific jokes as well as a number highly Simpsons-esque gags, like a menopause PSA video hosted by Robert Wagner (providing his own voice). It has everything franchise fans enjoy and expect, but it also captures the utter arrogance of the CCP officials. That is why it is such a shame Groening has yet to speak out on behalf of “Goo Goo Gai Pan” and to generally protest censorship in Hong Kong (especially gutless self-censorship). If you want to watch a Simpsons episode, watch this one, while you can. It streams on American Disney+, at least for now.