Here’s Why Disney+ In Hong Kong Is Missing A Classic Episode Of The Simpsons
March of 2019 saw The Walt Disney Company purchase 20th Century Fox for a whopping $71.3 billion, adding a host of film and television properties to Disney’s catalog. One such title was the long-running animated classic “The Simpsons,” which was in the midst of its 30th season at the time, thus making it prime material for the burgeoning Disney+ streaming service. Though it was great for fans of the program that they’d have every season of the iconic cartoon sitcom at their fingertips, it didn’t take long for issues to arise between the residents of Springfield, Oregon, and the streaming format.
The most well-known controversy to arrive had to do with the format of older “Simpsons” episodes. Considering the show got its start in 1989, it should come as no surprise that early seasons were in a 4:3 aspect ratio to fit the television sets of the day. Instead of simply presenting them in this style, however, Disney+ cropped these episodes to fit 16:9 measurements. This eliminated large chunks of the visuals, resulting in the loss of side-gags and minor details that gave some of these installments their charm. Thankfully, fan outcry eventually prevailed, and the streamer had this problem resolved by 2020.
It has been some time since “The Simpsons” and Disney+ have made headlines together, but they’re at it once again. A famous episode of the series has recently been banned from streaming in Hong Kong, and here’s why.
Goo Goo Gai Pan is off-limits
The episode on trial is the 12th of Season 16, titled “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” which first aired in March of 2005. The plot follows Selma Bouvier (Julie Kavner) as she struggles to come to terms with her age and loneliness. She decides she wants to adopt, though there aren’t any children in the Springfield orphanage looking for a home. This leads Selma to travel to China to adopt a child from there, but the fact that she isn’t married would prevent her from doing so. To skirt around this rule, Homer (Dan Castellaneta) goes with her and pretends to be her husband.
At face value, this seems like a relatively harmless plot, and that’s because it is. However, as reported by Vulture, there are a couple of jokes in the episode that deem it unwatchable in Hong Kong. For one, they visit a plaque that reads “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened” — taking aim at China’s censorship of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest and subsequent massacre. Not to mention, they stop to see the mummified remains of “Chairman” Mao Zedong — who led China from 1949 to 1976 — where they see a not-so-subtle homage to the enigmatic “Tank Man” image.
“The Simpsons” is no stranger to pushing the envelope, sometimes a bit too far, and this appears to be yet another one of those cases. Perhaps someday “Goo Goo Gai Pan” will return to Disney+ in Hong Kong, but that’s highly unlikely within the foreseeable future.