Speed Reads


The Simpsons episode that references Tiananmen Square missing on Disney+ in Hong Kong

An episode of The Simpsons that references the Tiananmen Square massacre has seemingly been censored on Disney+ in Hong Kong. 

The Disney streaming service launched in Hong Kong this month, but a season sixteen episode in which the Simpsons go to China is not available there, Bloomberg reports. Near the end of the 2005 episode "Goo Goo Gai Pan," a character stands in front of a tank in a recreation of the famous "Tank Man" photo. There's also a joke about the government trying to censor references to the 1989 crackdown on protesters that left hundreds if not thousands dead, as a sign is shown that reads, "Tien An Men Square: On this site, in 1989, nothing happened." 

Disney has not commented on why the episode is missing in Hong Kong. This came after Hong Kong passed a censorship law to crack down on films "found to be contrary to national security interests." Under the law, a film's license can be revoked if it's found to "endorse, support, glorify, encourage and incite activities that might endanger national security," with potential punishments including up to three years in prison, according to BBC News. But The New York Times notes this doesn't apply to streaming services, leaving open the question of whether Disney removed the Simpsons episode on its own. 

Kenny Ng, a Hong Kong Baptist University associate professor, told Bloomberg this was the "first notable time an American streaming giant has censored content in Hong Kong," adding, "Basically, the whole story is for streaming companies to be more tailored to a Chinese audience and to not offend the Chinese government." Chinese University of Hong Kong media regulation expert Grace Leung also told the New York Times that Disney has "sent out a clear signal to the local audience that it will remove controversial programs in order to please" the Chinese government, and "their credibility will definitely be hurt."