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The Simpsons censored in Hong Kong with Tiananmen Square episode removed

The Simpsons has faced an edit in Hong Kong, according to reports (Picture: The Simpsons/Fox)

In one move we can only assume the creators of The Simpsons would have predicted, an episode has been censored in Hong Kong on streaming platform Disney Plus.

All 32 seasons of the long-running Fox series landed on the platform in the region, except for one episode which featured the family visiting China.

The 12th episode of the 16th season, titled Goo Goo Gai Pan which first aired in 2005, featured Aunt Selma’s quest to adopt a baby from the country, and satirised Beijing’s attempt to suppress public memory of the bloody Tiananmen Square massacre.

In the episode, the family stumbles across Tiananmen Square, where a sign reads: ‘On this site, in 1989, nothing happened,’ before a character appears in a tank before the family.

The episode also showed the Simpsons visit the embalmed body of former president Mao Zedong, whom Homer brands ‘a little angel that killed 50 million people.’

However, in an apparent attempt to censor the show, according to the Guardian subscribers in Hong Kong aren’t able to access that episode after it was left off Disney Plus, which launched there earlier this month.

According to the newspaper, when checked on Monday, episodes 11 and 13 of season 16 were available but not 12.

The series satirised the erasure of the massacre (Picture: Fox)

However, amid the omission, it’s not clear whether Disney Plus removed the episode as a case of self-censorship or was ordered to by authorities cracking down on references of the 1989 protests and massacre.

It follows a film censorship law passed in Hong Kong earlier this year that bans content that runs contrary to the interests of a Beijing-drafted national security law. Penalties are as high as three years imprisonment for those who screen non-approved content. However, it’s reported the law does not cover the online screening of movies.

The alleged censorship comes after the show finally introduced Waylon Smithers’ first boyfriend last week, as the animation embarked on its first gay love story with one of its major characters.

Five years after coming out as gay to his notoriously problematic boss Mr Burns, Smithers has found love with fashion designer Michael De Graff, voiced by Victor Garber.

Writer of the episode, titled Portrait of a Lackey on Fire, Johnny LaZebnik has now revealed how the episode came about and the importance behind the monumental move.

‘When we, my dad and I, talked about writing this episode, something that was important to me was to see his relationship grow and flourish and to get those intimate moments of two gay people on screen talking about being gay or dating,’ LaZebnik told The AV Club.

‘To have a gay romance be the A-story of a Simpsons episode, I don’t think has ever happened. And that’s what was so exciting to me.’

Johnny, who identified as gay, served as a consultant for Smithers’ coming out episode, The Burns Cage, in 2016, written by his father Rob LaZebnik.

‘I think in many ways, he was really an impressive gay character to have early on, because he’s not sort of the stereotypical, flamboyant gay that you see in so many of these late ’90s cartoons,’ Johnny said.

‘He’s probably the most competent character on the show.

‘To just keep being able to add to that legacy, and to that story, is awesome. And I think we did a really good job in this episode of keeping true to his character while simultaneously fleshing out his existence as a real person.’

The Simpsons is available to stream in the UK on Disney Plus.

 


Credit: Original article published here.

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