The Simpsons’ writers are either prophetic or just really good at manifesting. Episode 12 of season 16 of The Simpsons is missing from Disney+ for users in Hong Kong, which uncannily mirrors what’s been censored. In the episode from 2005, “Goo Goo Gai Pan,” the Simpsons go on a family trip to China. During their visit to Tiananmen Square, they come across a placard that reads, “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.” Targeting China’s censorship of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, the episode also includes the family visiting Mao Zedong’s mummified remains, where the family sees a row of tanks in Beijing like that from the iconic “Tank Man” photo.
While Hong Kong has remained relatively free under the rule of “one country, two systems” with China, the passing of the national security law on June 30, 2020, has rapidly eroded such freedoms in the region. Last month, the legislature installed a new law that banned anti-Chinese films from being screened or distributed. These are films that are considered to be against China’s national security interests, a purposefully vague description. Violation of the law could result in three years of jail time and a $130,000 fine. If Disney+ is looking for a public statement on the missing Simpsons episode, we’ve got one prepared: “On this episode, in 2005, nothing happened.”