Disney, ever eager to avoid any confrontation with the Chinese Communist government, cut an episode of The Simpsons from Disney Plus streaming platform in Hong Kong that referenced “forced labor camps” in China.
The episode, titled “One Angry Lisa,” aired in October 2022 and showed the instructor of Marge Simpson’s virtual bike class state, “Behold the wonders of China. Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones.” Another episode of the show that broadcast in 2005 mentioned the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and the Chinese government’s efforts to suppress knowledge of it; it was cut in 2021.
Cutting the episode had “more to do with the company’s ties, current and future, in mainland China,” Kenny Ng, associate professor at the Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University, said, adding, “It could be strategic to eliminate any China-offending episodes.”
Yet the Hong Kong government, responding to the situation, stated that its recent film censorship regime, enacted in 2021 to prevent films from posing a risk to national security, “does not apply to streaming services,” Financial Times reported.
Hong Kong, formerly a British colony, was given to China in 1997.
In October 2019, speaking at the WSJ Tech Live conference on Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger admitted that Disney would stay silent regarding the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.
“What we learned in the last week — we’ve learned how complicated this is,” Iger said, as reported by Bloomberg. “The biggest learning from that is that caution is imperative. To take a position that could harm our company in some form would be a big mistake. I just don’t believe it’s something we should engage in in a public manner.”
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) blasted Iger, snapping, “‘Sell your soul to save your profits’ is going to be a helluva plot line for ‘Frozen 2.’ There are about a million Uyghurs in Chinese communist prisons who aren’t going to be visiting the Magic Kingdom anytime soon.”
Disney Company opened its $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort in 2016. “Our dream comes true,” Iger boasted in Mandarin.
Liu Yifei, the star of Disney’s live-action “Mulan,” triggered an anti-Mulan boycott after she expressed support for the Hong Kong police force putting down the pro-democracy protests, saying on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, “I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.”