(TibetanReview.net, Dec01’21) – The supposedly special administrative region of Hong Kong with democracy and free speech is now just another province of China and Walt Disney Co. has taken note of this fact by pulling out an episode of “The Simpsons” which contains pointed satirical comments about Tibet, the Tiananmen Square and the Cultural Revolution from its Disney+’s Hong Kong channel.
The omission from Co.’s newly introduced streaming service in Hong Kong of this episode, and the subsequent silence from the entertainment company’s public relations spokespeople, is a sign of how corporate America continues to grapple uncomfortably with how to engage in a market that doesn’t share the US commitment to freedom of speech, noted the bloomberg.com Dec 1.
The report felt that the missing episode also had the potential to set an unfortunate precedent that helps to normalize restrictions common in mainland China but that were unknown in Hong Kong until the passing of a national security law last year.
The report noted that the changes to the city had been a source of friction between Beijing and Washington, which imposed sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials over the reduction in the former British colony’s promised autonomy and rights, such as freedom of speech.
The missing episode, in which the cartoon American family visits the Tiananmen Square, includes a spoof sign reading, “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.” It was a satirical nod to China’s campaign to purge memories of what happened. And it could be seen as sensitive, especially given that Hong Kong amended its Film Censorship Bill last month to ban content deemed contrary to national security interests, the report said.
The episode also contains pointed comments about Tibet – where Beijing has been accused of religious oppression – and the Cultural Revolution, a devastating period of upheaval in the last decade of Mao Zedong’s rule, the report noted.
Disney+ has made rapid advances since it was launched 18 months ago, reaching more than 116 million worldwide subscribers. The Hong Kong version started streaming earlier this month and eagle-eyed customers soon noticed the conspicuous absence of “The Simpsons” episode 12 of season 16, noted the AFP Nov 30.
The report said it was not clear whether Disney+ removed the episode, was ordered to by authorities or if it was offered in Hong Kong to begin with.
AFP said when it checked Disney+’s Hong Kong channel on Nov 29 episodes 11 and 13 of season 16 were available but not 12.
The entertainment giant has not responded to requests for comment, nor has Hong Kong’s government, the report added.