Wednesday night’s episode of South Park took Hollywood to task for meekly allowing China to censor its movies and TV shows in exchange for reaching that huge Asian audience and their money.
In the episode, Stan Marsh is approached by a Chinese film company when his heavy metal rock band begins turning heads. The Chinese filmmakers say that they think his group is the next big thing in music, and they want to make a biopic about the band’s beginning.
Stan agrees and soon the band is filming its story with the help of a Chinese film company. But at nearly every turn, Stan and his band find the Chinese censors telling them what they can and can’t say, especially when it comes to describing the United States as a land of freedom.
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“You got to lower your ideals of freedom if you want to suck on the warm teat of China,” the American director working for the Chinese film company tells Stan and his crew.
When Stan complains about being forced to rewrite the story the kids are trying to tell, the director takes aim at Hollywood for allowing China to censor everything without complaints.
“Come on, guys,” the film producer says to the boys. “Everyone else is fine with China approving our entertainment. Even the PC Babies don’t seem to mind. And PC Babies cry about everything!”
Eventually, Stan quits the film and goes back to the same farm he lives on that he hated so much that it goaded him to write his angry music in the first place.
“I want to get away from that farm. More than anything. But it’s not worth living in a world where China controls my country’s art,” a disgruntled Stan says.
The episode sharply highlights Hollywood’s meekness in the face of constant censorship that takes an ax to Hollywood’s vaunted “artistic integrity.”
A few years ago, for instance, the James Bond flick Skyfall was heavily edited to take out the Chinese bad guys for its debut in the communist nation. In another case, Hollywood stood by silent as Chinese censors took out all positive references to Taiwan in a historical epic. Last year, the communist bosses set out on a massive censorship campaign to eliminate the portrayal of fantasy elements — such as magic and demons — frim TV shows aired in China.
These instances are not isolated examples. China meddles with just about every Hollywood film it allows in Chinese theaters. They also outright ban films. A few years ago, the communist nation refused to allow productions based on WInnie the Pooh into China, and last year pop singer Justin Bieber’s music was banned.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.