Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Photo: Bryan Bedder (Getty Images for Bob Woodruff Foundation)

On a recent episode of his HBO series Last Week Tonight, John Oliver decided to stop talking about America for a bit and focus on what’s been going on in China instead. For 20 minutes, Oliver detailed the great economic growth that the country is enjoying as well as the rise of lovable president/possible emperor-for-life Xi Jinping. Unfortunately, as Oliver pointed out, this growth has come alongside a massive crackdown on dissenters, a worrying vilification of religious minorities, and the repeal of political safety measures that were put in place in response to the totalitarian policies of Mao Zedong. He also pointed out that people like to mock Xi by saying he looks like Winnie The Pooh, a gag that got the character banned from China’s internet last year.

Now, following Winnie The Pooh’s lead, John Oliver has gotten all of HBO blocked from the Chinese internet. As reported by Variety, HBO’s “entire web presence” was blocked late last week and has been down ever since, which actually seems like a predictable move considering a big part of Oliver’s China segment involved showing extensive some of its current censorship policies are (like when candle emojis were blocked following the death of Nobel-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo). Perhaps this whole thing could’ve been if Oliver had just avoided pointing out the Winnie The Pooh jokes, but they are pretty funny.


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