Disney Pulls Simpsons Episode Criticizing China

Episode mentioning 'forced labor camps' not available in Hong Kong
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2023 1:13 AM CST
Disney Pulls Simpsons Episode in Hong Kong
This undated publicity photo released by Fox, shows, from left, from left, Maggie, Marge, Lisa, Homer and Bart from the animated series, "The Simpsons," The Fox network has ordered the 29th and 30th seasons of “The Simpsons,” carrying it through the 2018-19 season.   (AP Photo/Fox)

Amid ongoing tensions between the US and China, an episode of The Simpsons that mentions forced labor camps has been removed from Disney's streaming service in Hong Kong. The episode, "One Angry Lisa," which premiered in October, includes a scene in which the Great Wall of China is shown on a screen behind Marge Simpson as she participates in an exercise class. "Behold the wonders of China. Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones, and romance," says the fitness instructor. Beijing has been accused of genocide against ethnic minorities and human rights violations at forced labor camps in the western region of Xinjiang, allegations it denies. A UN assessment concluded China's actions there might be crimes against humanity, Politico reports.

Per an Axios source, were the episode to have been made available, Disney would have been "at odds" with China's controversial 2020 national security law, which, among other things, imposes limits on free speech. But it's not clear whether China actually requested the episode be pulled. Axios notes Disney "has a long track record of bowing to" China's insistence on censorship; in fact, another Simpsons episode was pulled from the Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong in 2021 due to a Tiananmen Square joke in what Politico calls an example of Disney "self-censoring." Experts tell the Financial Times (paywall) that Disney may be capitulating out of concern for its business in mainland China. (More The Simpsons stories.)

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