Disney Plus Hong Kong Removes Episode Of ‘The Simpsons’ Over References To “Forced Labour Camps” In China

Pedalon personal trainer chokes Homer Simpson in The Simpsons Season 34 Episode 2 "One Angry Lisa" via Disney Plus

Thanks to a joke referencing “force labour camps” in China, Disney has pulled a recent episode of The Simpsons from the Hong Kong edition of their signature streaming service.

Homer (Dan Castellaneta) gets drunk out of spite at Moe’s Bar in The Simpsons Season 34 Episode 2 “One Angry Lisa” (2022) via Disney Plus

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Originally aired in October of 2022, the second episode of the show’s 34th season, “One Angry Lisa”, sees Homer purchasing a stationary bike for Marge.

Seeking to get the most out of her new exercise equipment, Marge soon takes up a virtual fitness class with a professional trainer named Jesse, and over as the episode goes on the two grow evermorer close before eventually agreeing to go on a private virtual trip together across the Great Wall of China.

Marge (Julie Kavner) and her personal trainer Jesse (Hank Azaria) take a virtual trip across the Great Wall of China in The Simpsons Season 34 Episode 2 “One Angry Lisa” (2022) via Disney Plus

The joke which caused the episode’s removal occurs on that very bike ride when during their trip across the world famous landmark, Jesse remarks to Marge, “Behold, the wonders of China! Bitcoin mines, forced labour camps where children make smartphones, and romance.”

Despite Marge and Jesse’s bike ride being the only mention of China in the episode – and even then none of the characters actually physically traveled to the Asian country – this dig led the House of Mouse to deem it necessary to pull the episode from their Hong Kong edition of Disney Plus.

Jesse (Hank Azaria) falls down the Great Wall of China in The Simpsons Season 34 Episode 2 “One Angry Lisa” (2022) via Disney Plus

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Axios suggests Disney’s move comes at a critical time for their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, which has only recently reopened its doors to Hollywood.

“China is one of the most lucrative film markets in the world outside of the U.S, and Beijing is beginning to allow Disney films back into its theaters after banning most of its most popular hits during the pandemic,” the outlet argues.

The news outlet also notes that the joke is unfortunately rooted in politics, as U.S. has accused Beijing of genocide against Muslim Uyghurs — particularly in the Asian country’s western region of Xinjiang.

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as Black Widow in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2020.

Disney and China have been in a rather rocky relationship for quite some time now.

In 2021, the entertainment giant ran into some trouble releasing some of their Marvel films in China, with the communist country eventually banning nearly their entire slate of post-Spider-Man: Far From Home films – Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Eternals, and the Sony/Disney co-produced Spider-Man: No Way Home – from releasing within their borders.

However, Marvel caught a much-needed break just last month when it was officially announced that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania were granted February release dates

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) realizes what he must do to restore the multiverse in Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), Marvel Entertainment via Blu-ray

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) realizes what he must do to restore the multiverse in Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), Marvel Entertainment via Blu-ray

RELATED REPORT: The Walt Disney Company And Marvel Studios To Educate Actors In Order To Placate Communist China

China had previously barred Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Thor: Love and Thunder from releasing because of cultural and political sensitivities — namely the fact that both films featured LGBTQ+ themes and characters.

The release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was also a topic of concern for China, as the film featured – presumably accidentally and absent-mindedly – one of the signature yellow newspaper distribution boxes used by anti-communist newspaper The Epoch Times.

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) protects America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) from Gargantos in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) via Marvel Entertainment

More recently, whispers on the ground seem to indicate that in order to avoid any such future lockout, The Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios will be educating their actors and executives to placate communist China and refrain from publicly criticizing it’s governments actions.

In covering a reported investor battle between Bob Iger, Ike Perlmutter, and Nelson Peltz – The Walt Disney Company’s current and former CEOs and a hedge fund manager seeking a seat on Disney’s board  —The Walt Disney Company’s current and former CEOs, respectively — The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters and Alex Weprin alleged that in light of their latest releases being granted release dates, Marvel team members “will be well-schooled to watch their words.”

They further noted that this tense situation meant that Chinese villains in future Disney/Marvel projects, such as Tony Leung’s Wenwu – arguably the only part of Shang-Chi which garners any amount of consistent praise – are “extremely unlikely.”

Wenwu (Tony Leung) in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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