HBO Max’s $500 million deal for 23 seasons of “South Park” has five notable exceptions — episodes that involve humor about Islam or Muhammad.
The streaming service, which recently pulled “Gone with the Wind” until it could come up with a disclaimer by Turner Classic Movies’ Jacqueline Stewart, is once again enmeshed in a debate on censorship.
“The controversial episodes violate a widespread Islamic belief that depictions of Muhammad or any of the other prophets of Islam are forbidden, as they encourage the worship of idols,” the entertainment website reported Wednesday. “The prohibitions cover images, drawings, statues and cartoons.”
Deadline noted that two controversial episodes, “Cartoon Wars Part I” and “Cartoon Wars Part 2,” are available on the South Park website — for now.
Series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker also made headlines in October 2019 by lampooning Hollywood’s willingness to placate China’s censorship boards.
“You seem to treat your people like dirt,” a character named Randy tells government officials in Season’s 23’s “Band in China” episode. “You don’t believe in any individual freedoms. I mean, you’ve got Winnie the Pooh and Piglet in jail?! Now come on, China!”
The show’s official Twitter account also deadpanned: “You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you wanna suck on the warm teat of China.”
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