Disney+ recently wiped a 2005 episode of The Simpsons from its streaming platform in Hong Kong. The season 16 episode, titled “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” features the Simpsons family visiting Beijing, where they visit Tiananmen Square and come across a placard reading: “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.” The episode also features a reference to the infamously haunting “Tank Man” photo. As The Hollywood Reporter put it: “It appears the episode has suffered precisely the kind of censorship it was written to ridicule.”
Of course, Disney is no stranger to Chinese censorship. It, along with other Hollywood studios and networks, has large corporate interests in China and often overlooks the CCP’s censorship and humanitarian atrocities in favor of profit. For example, there was a large controversy when Disney chose to film portions of its Mulan remake in Xinjiang Province, where officials have been accused of committing human rights abuses against the region’s native Uyghur Muslim population. Additionally, the film’s lead actress, Liu Yifei, voiced support for Hong Kong’s police force while they cracked down on anti-Beijing demonstrators.
Hollywood as a whole often bows to the CCP while simultaneously spouting wokeisms and Disney is far from the only studio that alters scenes so that their films and shows can profit from a Chinese audience. In 2019, Paramount Pictures altered a scene in its Top Gun reboot. In the Chinese version of the film, “Maverick, whose entire character and name suggest a fierce independence, now wears a jacket that appears changed to appease China.” Taiwan’s flag and a patch commemorating the U.S. battleship, the Galveston, which toured in the Western Pacific, were removed from Maverick’s jacket. Some claim the move came at the behest of Chinese authorities. It wouldn’t be surprising considering the fact that a propaganda film about the Chinese military defeating the U.S. army is now China’s highest-grossing film of all time.
Earlier this year, Disney was accused of “going woke” when it fired actress Gina Carano for the great crime of possibly being a Republican, so perhaps it’s not a surprise that they’re once again favoring censorship over freedom of speech. Disney’s removal of a Tiananmen Square-referencing Simpsons episode is simply the latest on a long string of examples of Hollywood bending the knee to the CCP. It’s cause for concern as this is the same Hollywood that often determines the flow of America’s cultural rivers. Hollywood’s hypocritical embrace of censorship has far-reaching consequences, both at home and abroad.