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Why An Episode Of South Park Was Pulled In Mexico

"South Park" has a familiar relationship with censorship. Since it debuted in 1997, multiple episodes of "South Park" have been mostly buried to avoid offending audiences. When the series popped up on the HBO Max streaming service, The Hollywood Reporter revealed five episodes — that were also pulled from broadcast — were kept out of the library, all because they "depicted a character based on the Prophet Muhammad."

Among those five were the Season 10 episodes "Cartoon Wars Part 1" and "Cartoon Wars Part 2," in which creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone used parody to take a shot at people's sensitivities. In it, "Family Guy" not only becomes a defenseless punching bag but the characters of South Park, Colorado panic as in the universe of the show, the Fox series plans on airing an image of Muhammad. The episode was inspired by real-life responses to such depictions, but Comedy Central ultimately refused to allow Parker and Stone to show their episodes uncut (via Associated Press).

"South Park" has found itself mired in multiple similar controversies over the years. Despite being a series about a bunch of elementary school kids, Parker and Stone have always pushed the envelope and made everyone under the sun the victims of their comedic wrath. One episode though was pulled for very different reasons — and only in Mexico.

An episode depicting the Mexican president was not aired in Mexico

"South Park" Season 13 Episode 6, "Pinewood Derby," featured Randy Marsh souping up his son Stan's Pinewood Derby car. The effort to cheat to obtain glory in a toy car race pays off, with aliens taking notice of Stan's car hitting warp speed. In the following scene where Randy is the middle-man between an alien race and world leaders, he admonishes the Mexican president for needlessly spending "space cash." (The episode makes fun of a number of world leaders, including Mexico's top politician.) The shot that included El Presidente had the Mexican flag behind him.

While the depiction is naturally not flattering, a number of countries got it on the chin in the episode, including China and Russia. But in Mexico, "Pinewood Derby" was pulled at the last minute. Mexican law dictates you need permission to show the country's flag, and MTV Mexico claimed the permit didn't arrive in time. (The episode premiered in April 2009 in the U.S., and aired in February 2010 in Mexico.) The channel considered covering up the flag but didn't to avoid a potential fine.

"We decided not to alter the image because the reaction would have been worse," a spokesperson for MTX Mexcio told BBC in 2010. According to the report, the episode had been heavily advertised, making its last-minute pull all the more suspicious to fans in the country.