An episode of The Simpsons that spoofs Pokemon GO has been banned in Russia. The game previously caused controversy in the country when a blogger faced jail time for playing the game in a church.
The episode of The Simpsons that aired in the United States and Canada on April 30 will not be broadcast in Russia. 2x2, which has aired the show since 2007, will not air the "Looking for Mr. Goodbart" episode due to pushback from Russian clergy. The episode of the popular animated television show sees Homer Simpson play a game called Peekimon Get and he and his daughter Lisa sing a song that is a riff on the Pokemon theme tune. And while the spoof is mostly a fun take on the mobile game phenomenon, it also sees the characters playing its version of Pokemon GO in a church.
This particular scene obviously pokes fun at the real-life news that a Russian man could be jailed for almost a decade for playing the game in a church, but the Russian Orthodox Church isn't happy. Speaking to Russian news agency TASS, archpriest Andrei Novikov called The Simpsons episode "Hollywood propaganda" designed to affect Russian society, and also expressed support for "more control over media products." Meanwhile, 2x2 said that "it could compromise the network and cause controversy."
The team behind The Simpsons no doubt expected something like this to happen. After all, this wouldn't be the first video game related thing that has incited controversy in Russia. Games like FIFA 17 and Overwatch have also come under fire in the country and although these cases were due to Russia's gay propaganda law, it shows how strict the country is on the portrayals of different things in the media.
One big question, though, is whether Pokemon GO could actually be banned in Russia over fears that people will play the game in places that it deems "inappropriate." Russia's neighbor, China, banned the AR game over security concerns, and many locations from the United States to Iran have debated banning the game or requiring restrictions for it in order to make sure that laws aren't broken. It's unclear whether Russia is currently considering something like that, but given the country's sensitivity to all things Pokemon GO related, it would come as little surprise if it was.
Pokemon GO is available on iOS and Android.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter