Disney Accused of Censoring 'The Simpsons' on Disney Plus in Hong Kong
Disney Plus went live in the region less than two weeks ago, but it's already generating an international controversy
Disney has come under fire from critics of the Chinese government for allegedly removing a Sino-focused episode of The Simpsons from Disney Plus in Hong Kong, a territory the subscription streaming service just launched in on Nov. 16.
Local users say the 12th episode of Season 16 of the show, titled "Goo Goo Gai Pan," is conspicuously unavailable in Hong Kong. In the episode, the Simpsons family travels to China to help Aunt Selma adopt a child. (Turns out she can't adopt a child from the country without having a husband, so Homer steps in and plays the role.)
Along the way, there are the usual pointed barbs that the animated series has been known for over its three-decade FOX run, including one in which Homer pays homage to the embalmed body of Mao Zedong, noting that he looks "just like a little angel who killed 50 million people."
References are also made to locally touchy issues including Tiananmen Square.
Disney didn't immediately respond to Next TV's email inquiry Monday morning.
“Disney obviously sent out a clear signal to the local audience that it will remove controversial programs in order to please” the Chinese government, said Grace Leung, an expert in media regulation at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, to The New York Times. “Their credibility will definitely be hurt.”
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!