The character to arouse the most suspicion on the Oct. 3 episode of South Park? Winnie the Pooh.
Cast as the honey-addict outlaw whose life took a wrong turn after he got blacklisted by the Chinese government, Pooh's role in "Band in China" involves scavenging for his beloved substance, a perpetual fight with public scrutiny, and [SPOILER] a murder scene.
Season 23 of South Park is in no shortage of baffling plot twists, but it was the bear who left fans in a state of shock.
Creator Matthew Stone and Trey Park packed this seasons' episodes with some exceptional references. Nonetheless, there's one thing we can't help shake off thinking about after watching "Band in China." Is Winnie the Pooh illegal in China for real – or is that just another, brilliantly twisted idea the writers came up with?
Turns out, the Chinese president and Winnie the Pooh look a teeny-tiny bit too similar.
This was first spotted in 2013, when a photo showing Xi Jinping walking alongside former U.S. President Barack Obama led political commentators to draw comparisons with Milne characters.
The image alone wouldn't have necessitated the ban. The real problems began a few months afterwards, when Chinese activists discovered the picture. Soon, Pooh became the symbol of anti-establishment organizations.
In no time, Pooh turned into a recurring motif of protests, with banners, placards, and the like adorned with his face. Graffitis showing his face popped up in subway stations, dark alleyways, and on the walls of abandoned buildings.
For the first few years, the state tolerated the tendency. It all changed in 2015, when a meme showing Xi Jinping amidst a speech on the right side and Winnie the Pooh's sweetly smiling face on the left side went viral on the Chinese social media channel, Weibo.
South Park ties in Chinese politics with Winnie the Pooh.
The creators of South Park tapped into this particularly heated moment in Chinese politics in the Oct. 3 episode.
"Band in China" offers a radically different take on the Winnie the Pooh familiar from the pastel-tainted world of children's books, showing him as a true outlaw trying to survive in the aftermath of his political excommunication.
Joined by his trusted companion, Piglet, we watch the bear as he roams the streets for just one drop of honey.
Refused by every merchant — an artisan honey producer screams as she recognizes the alleged criminal on her doorstep – the bear is eventually found by the police and sent to prison. That's where he meets budding entrepreneur and Tegridy owner, Randy, but their encounter does not end on a positive note.
Amidst the various, equally amusing storylines – Stan forms a death metal band, the boys' cultic band, Fingerb---g goes through a brief revival, a Hollywood agent tries and fails to shoot a biopic of Stan's death metal band, and the boys finally return from the immigration center – Pooh's vertical is the one to stand out the most.
Whether the bear is considered as the number one enemy of the Chinese government or not, he surely introduced a pop of color to South Park.
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