How ‘South Park’ Got Zedd Banned in China
South Park has regularly sparked controversy over its satire. While the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have occasionally suffered consequences for the jokes they’ve made, they rarely help to get other people in trouble. That recently changed when a recent South Park controversy led to Zedd getting banned from China. Let’s take a look at the facts behind the bizarre case.
Winnie the Pooh and ‘South Park’ Banned in China
In recent years, people have said that the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, resembles Winnie the Pooh, which has led to a crackdown on Winnie the Pooh memes on Chinese social media. The recent Walt Disney Pictures film Christopher Robin, which features the animated bear and his pals, was denied a release in China.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, some theorized that this was the result of President Jinping’s personal distaste for the bear; others speculated that the film was denied an official release due to economic concerns, specifically fears that the Chinese market was being flooded with foreign films.
South Park poked fun at these events in their recent episode “Band in China.” In the episode, Randy Marsh goes to China, where he is thrown in a forced-labor camp for cannabis possession. While he is there, he meets Winnie the Pooh and his best friend, Piglet. The episode also makes fun of people who are willing to censor their art to find success in China. The episode targets Hollywood in general and the Walt Disney Company in particular.
Zedd banned in China
How does Zedd factor into all of this? CNBC reported that the EDM superstar liked a tweet celebrating South Park’s 300th episode. Shortly thereafter, Zedd tweeted “I just got permanently banned from China because I liked a @SouthPark tweet.” Adam Guest, Zedd’s publicist, confirmed this report. He told CNBC “This is true, yes, but we don’t have anymore info to give you at this time.”
The tweet that Zedd liked did not mention China. It read “It’s our 300th episode tonight! Which is your favorite episode and why? #southpark300.” The episode specifically mentioned in the tweet had nothing to do with China.
As Zedd is German, CNBC reached out to the German embassy in Beijing for information regarding the ban. The embassy has not commented on the matter. According to The A.V. Club, Zedd elaborated that his promoters will have their permits revoked if they continue to try to organize his shows.
Zedd’s future in China
Although Zedd himself appears to be banned in China, his music is a different matter. QQ Music, a Chinese streaming service, still included his music as of Saturday. So far, the country’s treatment of Zedd’s music is less censorious than its treatment of South Park; The Hollywood Reporter said that the show and all mention of it has been scrubbed clean from the Chinese internet.
The ban has not managed to dull the show’s popularity in Hong Kong. Some people taking part in the Hong Kong protests have screened pirated copies of “Band in China” on the streets. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have become heroes in the minds of the protesters. It remains to be seen if Zedd will become a hero to the protesters as well, and if his music will become a symbol of their resistance to the Chinese government.