'The Simpsons' Episode Featuring Pokemon Go Won't Air in Russia Amid Church Criticism
The clergy was unhappy about the episode 'Looking for Mr. Goodbart,' which shows Homer Simpson playing a video game in a church.
Russian TV network 2x2 has canceled the airing of The Simpsons' most recent episode, Looking for Mr. Goodbart, after criticism from the Russian Orthodox Church.
2x2 said it will not air The Simpsons' episode as "it could compromise the network and cause controversy."
The decision came just hours after Russian news agency TASS quoted several church officials as harshly criticizing the episode. Specifically, archpriest Andrei Novikov was quoted as saying that the episode was "Hollywood propaganda" aimed at compromising Russian society. Novikov also called for "more control over media products."
The episode, which in the U.S. aired on Fox on April 30, features Homer Simpson playing a mobile game named Peekimon Get, an apparent reference to Pokemon Go, and walks into a church looking for "Peekimons."
The scene is reminiscent of what happened to Russian blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, who was arrested in September 2016 for playing Pokemon Go in a St. Petersburg church. Sokolovsky is currently on trial on charges of "insulting the feelings of believers" and is facing a three- to five-year jail sentence.
Launched in 2007, 2x2 has been focused on cartoon series. It has been airing episodes of The Simpsons and South Park since the very beginning. In 2008, the network faced the revoking of its license as some of the two cartoon series' episodes were investigated for alleged "extremism," but the probe went nowhere.