What do Winnie the Pooh and Peppa Pig have in common? Well, apart from being adorable and wildly popular children’s cartoon, both the cartoons have been removed from Chinese social media platforms.
Peppa Pig is the latest victim of the censorship crackdown on Chinese social media after Douyin, a video sharing platform in China, recently removed more than 30,000 clips of the children’s cartoon. Douyin didn’t just remove the clips but the hashtag #PeppaPig was also removed from the website.
What could a harmless pink cartoon pig, especially the one in the video above, have done to deserve such a fate? According to Global Times, a state-run newspaper, the cartoon started to take on a “subversive hue” after it became the subject of counterculture memes, tattoos, viral content and merchandise, which were even endorsed by several celebrities. Unexpectedly, Peppa Pig became a subversive icon on Chinese social media.
“After Peppa Pig started to take on this subversive hue and subsequently go viral, some experts said the popularity of the cartoon demonstrates the social psychology of hunting for novelty and spoofing, which could potentially hamper positive societal morale,” wrote Global Times. It also wrote that the kind of people who indulge in said memes, tattoos or Peppa-related jokes are “the antithesis of the young generation the party tries to cultivate”.
But the state’s problem with Peppa Pig wasn’t just about memes or tattoos. Thanks to the popularity of the British cartoon, which has attracted some 34 billion views on Chinese online video platforms, the show started to gather popularity with adults. Eventually, fan videos and memes with violent, sexual or explicit undertones started surfacing, resulting in what the media called deviance and manipulation among Chinese youths. In a country where pornography is strictly banned, things didn’t look good for Peppa Pig. And under President Xi Jinpig’s rule, the Chinese government has been cracking down heavily on online content to ensure a healthy online culture.
According to CNN, an internal Douyin memo dated last week said censors demanded the platform stop publishing videos that showed Peppa Pig “spreading negative social influence”. Chen Nian, an analyst in a consultancy which monitors Chinese social media, told CNN, “The contradictory traits of a ‘thug’ and the innocent Peppa Pig make people laugh. It’s an act of subculture rebellion.”
However, users in China may already have a replacement for Peppa Pig. According to BBC, Sina Weibo has been extensively promoting a “friendly domestic pig cartoon” called “Little Pig Dodo” which may be a state-friendly response to Peppa Pig.