China bans Peppa Pig because she 'promotes gangster attitudes'

Tattoos of the character have become popular amongst a subculture of people 

Wednesday 02 May 2018 15:53 BST
Peppa Pig has been blocked from China’s Douyin video platform

Popular children’s cartoon character Peppa Pig has been blocked from an online video channel in China after becoming associated with a “gangster” subculture.

The search term #PeppaPig was removed from video app Douyin, making as many as 30,000 videos of the playful pink piglet unreachable, according to reports in Chinese media.

The censorship came after Peppa’s likeness became popular with a subculture of internet users known as "shehuiren" or “society people - a group who some say hold “anti-establishment views” and “gangster” attitudes.

Users have reportedly been using the character in subversive memes, spoof videos or in the context of ‘vulgar’ or lewd jokes.

The Global Times explained said “society people” who have embraced Peppa as their unlikely symbol, are those “who run counter to the mainstream value and are usually poorly educated with no stable job.”

“They are unruly slackers roaming around and the antithesis of the young generation the (ruling Communist) Party tries to cultivate."

The piglet, who is usually seen playing with friends in the mud or taking part in other wholesome adventures in the original British show, is presented in a different context entirely in the memes.

One example features a scene where Peppa says: "I like this. It's very grown-up," at the start of a lewd rap song.

Other videos are reportedly sexually suggestive.

Many such clips have gone viral, and despite the ban, related terms including "PigPig" or "PeppaPeppa” are still searchable.

Peppa has even become a popular image for tattoos with Douyin reportedly users encouraging each other to get one.

While some tattoos are real, many have opted for temporary versions, with tens of thousands bought by consumers online.

The catchphrase, "Get a tattoo of Peppa Pig, give a round of applause to 'gangsters,"' was also blocked from being searched on the microblogging platform, Weibo which posted a message saying it was acting "in accordance with relevant legal regulations."

It is not clear whether the censorship of Peppa on Douyin was prompted by a government mandate.

Despite the controversy, Peppa Pig has proved popular in China with both children and adults since it was launched there in 2015.

There are even plans being considered to open two new theme parks in the country based on the cartoon.

Censorship on the internet in China has been on the rise, after a controversial cybersecurity law was introduced last June as part of President Xi Jinping's efforts to tighten control over what China's public can see and say online.

It is also not the first time a cartoon character was targeted.

Winnie the Pooh was previously blocked by censors, after the tubby bear was compared by internet users to President Xi Jinping.

One particular image that was blocked as part of the crackdown showed the bear hugging a jar of honey beside the quote, "find the thing you love and stick with it."

The image was widely shared after the government removed the two-term limit on the presidency, potentially allowing Mr Xi to remain in charge indefinitely.

Bytedance, the company that owns video site Douyin, did not respond to requests for comment.

The company’s social networking app Neihan Duanzi was suspended by the State Adminstration of Radio and Television last month after authorities decided the type of humour posted on the site was “unhealthy”.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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