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The Simpsons Tiananmen Square Episode Removed From Disney Plus Hong Kong

In the long run of The Simpsons, there have always been controversial moments as writers refuse to hold back from ridiculing whatever they like. Currently in its 33rd season and boasting over 700 episodes, the FOX animated classic has a huge number of memorable episodes. But after Disney Plus launched recently in Hong Kong, one episode, in particular, has been noted to be missing for their users  an episode where Homer takes his family to China.

The episode in question is number 12 from the 16th season of The Simpsons a season with one of the highest rated Simpsons episodes on IMDb, incidentally first broadcast in 2005. The episode finds Homer and his family visiting the infamous Tiananmen Square in China, the site of the 1989 massacre of pro democracy student protestors by armed troops, and come across a placard that reads On this site, in 1989  nothing happened. Its a satirical take on the kind of extreme censorship that the Chinese government regularly partakes in, especially in mainland China where any mention of the protest is disallowed in public discourse. The episode also has the Simpson family visit remains of the Mao Zedong, founding father of the Peoples Republic of China  and face off against a row of tanks, referencing an iconic photo from the uprising.

The episodes removal in Hong Kong is apparently voluntary by Disney Plus, rather than imposed. Historically this kind of censorship has not been as pervasive as in the mainland. China has a set of censorship laws for video games for example. But to the worry of many, this has been changing. Hong Kong is slowly falling victim to the increasing influence of Beijing, with the legislature passing a number of bills that serve to undermine the city former free speech laws. Last month a new and intentionally vague law sought to ban the screening and distribution of films deemed as working against the national security interests of China with a hefty $130,000 fine for anyone caught exhibiting such unauthorized media.

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Currently, content rules for streaming services in Hong Kong are murky, but with the intentional absence of this episode of The Simpsons, for example, it seems more likely that heavier restrictions will be brought in. In October PS Plus users in Hong Kong got a different free game from the rest of the world for reasons that remain unclear but which are thought to involve red tape. Concerns are growing that China infamous  Great Firewall  their widespread internet and news censorship regime  will be engulfing Hong Kong media soon. The worry is that the resulting self censorship by filmmakers will heavily impede a once vibrant sector. Still  content that seems to obviously contravene the new restrictive laws is still being hosted on streaming websites in Hong Kong including Joe Piscatellas documentary about the pro democracy student movement in 2014  Joshua  Teenager vs. Superpower  on Netflix. It remains to be seen how long this will stay the case.

The Simpons is currently available to stream on Disney Plus.

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