Authorities in China launched a “crusade” against the British children’s cartoon character Peppa Pig this week over fears that it is a negative influence on both young children and young adults.
According to the state propaganda outlet Global Times, many Chinese web users were left “baffled” after they found that the cartoon piglet, which originates from the BBC cartoon Peppa Pig, was removed from the video platform Douyin. Users soon discovered that China’s internet censors had removed all clips and references of the piglet from the internet.
“In November 2017, reports of Chinese parents ‘complaining’ that their children had become addicted to Peppa Pig caused widespread discussions,” the Times explains.
“Parents said that their pre-school-aged children began oinking and jumping into puddles after watching the BBC cartoon, which was once regarded as positive material for early childhood education, especially for learning English,” it continued.
However, many Chinese soon came to realize that Peppa Pig was not “simply a children’s show,” but a multi-layered propaganda tool presenting “complex social realities,” claims the communist newspaper.
As a result, the cartoon has reportedly become an “unexpected cultural icon of shehuiren,” a reference to young undereducated Chinese adults with little to no job prospects who are considered a stain on the Chinese Communist Party’s societal values.
“At first glance, there is a great contrast between pink and childish Peppa Pig and shehuiren slackers,” the Times explains. “But the combination of the two demonstrates the growing power of online subcultures among young Chinese people, experts said.”
“After Peppa Pig started to take on this subversive hue, some experts said the popularity of the cartoon among adults reveals the social psychology of hunting for novelty and spoofing, which could potentially hamper China’s positive societal morale,” it continues.
The case is the latest example of bizarre censorship to emerge from China, where Communist Party authorities have launched a crackdown on all content deemed inappropriate or harmful to their version of 21st-century communism as part of a “national campaign to clean up the online environment.”
Examples of such censorship include the banning references to the children’s literary character Winnie the Pooh over comparisons made between him and the Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. During North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s visit to China in March, authorities also blocked searches for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un under his local nickname, “Fatty the Third.”