Band in China
Randy sees an opportunity for TEGRIDY in China. Randy lands himself in big trouble on a visit to China. Meanwhile, Stan starts a band to work out his frustration over having to move away from South Park.
As Stan Marsh sits in his room attempting to write a song for his new death metal band, Crimson Dawn, his father Randy Marsh announces to the family that he plans to travel to China and expand the family's Tegridy Farms marijuana business there.
However, when he boards a plane to China, he sees many other people are also traveling there for the same reason, including characters belonging to Disney. He is arrested in China when marijuana is discovered in his luggage. He is sentenced to prison where he witnesses the practice of summary execution, and is subjected to slave labor, torture, and Communist Party re-education.
During a Crimson Dawn rehearsal, the band is visited by a music producer who wants to make a biographical film, or "biopic" of the band, as traditional music resources such as albums and tours are no longer profitable. Stan, who desperately wants to leave his farm home, is thrilled. During their first meeting, when the film's structure is discussed, the band learns that certain aspects of the band's lives will have to be edited out in order to make the film marketable in China due to their censorship of the media.
In prison, Randy meets fellow prisoners Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, who are there because they were banned in China after internet memes comparing Chinese president and General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping to Disney's version of Pooh became popular. When Randy is brought before a court, he criticizes the Chinese government for the way it treats its prisoners, accusing them of lacking "integrity". When Mr. Mouse learns of Randy's criticism, however, he angrily confronts Randy over the Chinese customers he is losing because of it, but Randy holds firm on his beliefs that business should not be conducted on the basis of intimidation, and expresses his marijuana import idea to him. When Mickey and Randy make their case to the Chinese officials together, their offer is rejected, which Mickey attributes to the Winnie the Pooh matter. Randy is so angered at this that he lures Pooh to a secluded street with honey, and kills him as a horrified Piglet watches.
As the Crimson Dawn film is shot, the censorship continues to the point that Chinese officials are on set to approve its content. The producer asks Stan to rewrite the script "from his heart", but Stan is frustrated by a Chinese censor standing over his shoulder as he writes in his bedroom, erasing passages he does not approve of. Later with his band mates, Stan realizes that the only film that will even be accepted in China is something "vanilla and cheesy". Stan's best friend, Kyle Broflovski, disembarks from a bus with Eric Cartman following their stay in an ICE detention center in the previous episode. The friends' reunion inspires an idea for Stan.
Stan briefly reunites his previous band Fingerbang for a new biopic, but changes his mind during filming, saying that no matter how badly he wishes to leave the farm, he cannot bring himself to compromise for China, and commenting that anyone who does is worthless in his view. Meanwhile, Tegridy Weed has become legal in China. As a dump truck unloads a massive amount of cash at the farm during a family meal, Stan asks Randy why he is covered in honey and blood. When Randy discloses that he murdered Pooh, Stan calmly leaves the table to go write another song about his father.
What I Learned Today
"Yeah, but I can't sell my soul like this. I want to get away from that farm, more than anything, but it's not worth living in a world where China controls my country's art. I don't care how many people you have! I've got something in me that just won't let me be a part of all this... I wanna be proud of who we are, guys! And anybody who would be tray their ideals just to make money in China, isn't worth a lick of spit!"
- "All right. Well, you know what they say you gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you wanna suck on the warm teat of China." (Spinny Moutain Record Producer)
- "Dad... Did you kill Winnie the Pooh?" Stan
- "Hey hold on a minute! You really think that business should be run through intimidation and fear? Whatever happened to old time values. You already have business with the Chinese. You have all the connections money can buy. But there's one thing you DON'T have... And that's TEGRIDY." Randy
At Autumnfest, Crimson Dawn plays from the extreme death metal song "Useless Sacrifice" by the French band Death Decline, with Stan's vocals coming directly from the original song, and the only alteration being Butters' line, "Get me off this farm!" Watch the original music video here.
When the band is rehearsing a few moments later in Randy's barn, they play "Second Skin" from Maryland band Dying Fetusâ 2012 album, Reign Supreme, with more added dialogue about life on the farm. Watch the original music video here.
During the final sequence of the episode, the boys reprise their hit song "Finger Bang" from Fingerbang's debut in season 4's "Something You Can Do With Your Finger". It's not yet clear if this is a new recording.
- These characters only have one or two lines, or none at all, but still make a notable appearance in the episode, if briefly.
- In particular, TONS of characters can be spotted briefly in attendance at Autumnfest when Crimson Dawn makes their debut.
- This is the first time Stan is seen wearing his original jacket since season 22's "The Problem With a Poo", though he is quickly forced to wear his 'Tegridy' shirt again.
- This is the third time that Stan Marsh and Kenny McCormick have been part of a band together, having previously worked together in season 4's "Something You Can Do With Your Finger and season 7's "Christian Rock Hard".
- The Spinny Moutain Record Producer who approaches the Crimson Dawn members at Tegridy Farms is the same one who appeared in season 22's "Buddha Box" working with the PC Babies, as he mentions a little later.
- Given the previous appearances by Chinese Government officials in season 12's "The China Probrem", season 16's "Obama Wins!" and season 19's "Tweek x Craig", various art assets are reused:
- Mr. Mouse remains the head of the Walt Disney Corporation, having previously appeared in season 13's "The Ring", season 14's "201", and season 16's "Obama Wins!".
- The boys' very first boy band Fingerbang makes a stunning return nineteen years after season 4's "Something You Can Do With Your Finger", wearing their iconic white costumes first seen in Cartman's dream sequence.
- In the original episode, Wendy Testaburger was a band member, but she doesn't appear in the scene.
Behind The Scenes
Where Did The Idea Come From
Pop Culture References
- Many notable Disney and Pixar characters appear in the scenes featuring Mr. Mouse and the Walt Disney Company, with only Marvel's Thor receiving attention in dialogue. Additional characters include:
- Disney has produced the most famous and iconic adaptions of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet over several decades, most recently in the film Christopher Robin which brought the characters to life via computer animation. China did not allow the film to be released. The versions in the episode more closely resemble their classic animated counterparts, most recently seen in a 2011 film.
- In addition to aforementioned Thor, other flaship Marvel Studios characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther and Captain Marvel are visible, based on their film appearances.
- Kylo Ren and a First Order Stormtrooper from the Star Wars sequel film trilogy, based on their appearances back in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- Genie, Jafar and Jasmine from the animated Aladdin film appear, although this is likely as a result of the recent release of the live-action remake featuring Will Smith.
- Snow White, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and the Queen of Hearts appear from the classic Disney films Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Beast and Elsa, from later caonical Disney films Beauty and the Beast and Frozen also appear.
- Jack Sparrow from the live-action Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise is present.
- Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story is the character from Disney-Pixar films represented. The fourth film in the franchise had opened in late June to critical acclaim.
- No characters from the Muppets franchise appear or are referenced.
The Walt Disney Company is easily the most significant target throughout the episode, having become known for doing much of their biggest film business in China in recent years, particularly with their Marvel Studios film franchise, where China has been critical to maintaining their global success. Though the depictions of the individual characters seem more affectionate, the episode is critical of their business practices, proclaiming that "anybody who would betray their ideals just to make money in China isn't worth a lick of spit."
- This is the second episode in a row, after "Mexican Joker", to feature a major character being forcibly taken and detained by a government.
Errors and Goofs
This episode made headlines when it resulted in South Park being banned in China, no longer appearing on social media or search in the country, with clips and seasons being removed from video sites, and even fan pages and discussion threads becoming inaccessible entirely. German musician Zedd was "permanently banned" from the country for liking a South Park post. There are reports indicating that some Hong Kong protestors, in fact, have played the episode.
The same week the episode aired, issues with China were also in the news due to an NBA basketball manager Daryl Morey being forced to recant a tweet supporting protesters in Hong Kong against the Chinese government, and video game company Blizzard shutting down a live stream when a competitive player declared support for the protesters despite rules against political subjects. Both incidents relating to Chinese censorship
Amid the media coverage, series co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone released a rare statement through the official South Park social media accounts:
"Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts," the statement reads. "We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn't look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?"
The statement attracted additional media coverage, and Matt and Trey stood by their position next week in "Shots!!!", where Towelie urges Randy to say "Fuck the Chinese government" as part of an apology for his previous profit-motivated actions, which again attracted further coverage.