Donald Trump famously sued HBO’s Bill Maher when the Real Time host suggested the orange- and-thin-skinned future president was the offspring of an orangutan, and now John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, has gotten himself in dutch with a world leader for bear comparisons.
Well, not just any foreign leader: China’s President Xi Jinping. And not just any bear: Winnie the Pooh. Whether it was the Pooh jokes or other parts of a biting segment Sunday about XJ, Oliver and his show have gotten banned at least temporarily from China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging platform.
As reported earlier today in The New York Times, attempts to create Weibo posts with the words “John Oliver” are resulting in error messages. The most recent posts referring to Oliver were placed on the site prior to this past Sunday’s show.
In the 20-minute segment, Oliver lambasts China’s president for any number of despotic evils, like China’s “dystopian levels of surveillance and persecution” of Uighur Muslims and the imprisonment of dissidents. Oliver said Xi was dismantling term limits put in place to avoid “another Mao.”
Exactly what got new posts about Oliver’s show booted from social media is unclear, but Chinese censors, as Oliver pointed out on his show, have been clamping down hard on jokes likening the president to Pooh in an effort to stop the spread of a popular meme.
“Apparently, Xi Jinping is very sensitive about his perceived resemblance to Winnie the Pooh,” Oliver said Sunday. “And I’m not even sure it’s that strong a resemblance, to be honest. But the fact he’s annoyed about it means people will never stop bringing it up.” Which Oliver did, repeatedly.
Oliver had a simple solution: Instead of running away from the comparison, lean into it — as Oliver himself did by showing this photo of a particular HBO host and Zazu, the character Oliver voices in the upcoming Lion King remake.
Watch the entire Oliver segment above. The Winnie the Pooh jokes start at about the 10:56 mark.