Disney’s “Goo Goo Gai Pan” Simpsons Episode is Censored or Self-Censored in Hong Kong

(p. B4) HONG KONG—The absence of an episode of “The Simpsons” from Walt Disney Co. ’s streaming service in Hong Kong is raising concerns about rising censorship in the Chinese territory.

Disney launched its streaming service, Disney+, earlier in November in Hong Kong featuring an array of programming owned by the entertainment giant, including 32 seasons of the animated comedy series.

Yet one episode is missing from “The Simpsons” lineup: Titled “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” the episode from season 16 centers on a trip to China by the show’s namesake family. Along the way they encounter a plaque at Tiananmen Square in Beijing that reads: “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”

The episode also features a reference to the iconic “Tank Man” photo, in which a man stands in front of a column of tanks after the military moved in to crush student-led protests on June 4, 1989.

It isn’t known if Disney removed the episode under pressure, or whether it decided itself to leave the episode out of its lineup when it launched the Disney+ service in Hong Kong earlier in November. Representatives for Disney didn’t respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Office of the Communications Authority, which oversees broadcasters in the city, declined to comment.

The episode’s absence fuels concerns about rising censorship in Hong Kong, and the extent to which Western companies are under pressure to assist in the effort or to self-censor following the imposition of a sweeping national security law by Beijing last year that has stamped out dissent across the city.

For the full story, see:

Dan Strumpf. “Missing ‘Simpsons’ Episode in Hong Kong Fuels Censorship Fears.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, November 30, 2021): B4.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 29, 2021, and has the title “Disney’s Missing ‘Simpsons’ Episode in Hong Kong Raises Censorship Fears.”)

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