‘Subversive’ icon Peppa Pig hogs the headlines in China

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A Peppa Pig themed exhibition in Shanghai last year. Photo: AFP

For children under the age of 10, she is the most famous pig in the world. Yet in a remarkable move, Beijing has branded Peppa Pig, a cuddly cartoon character, a “subversive symbol” of counterculture and given her the chop.

At least 30,000 clips of the cartoon, whose heroine is a playful bright pink pig, were removed from the popular Douyin video-sharing platform, while the #PeppaPig hashtag was banned from the site, the Global Times reported.

According to a brief quoted by the state-owned newspaper, the BBC children’s cartoon is on a list of content censored by Douyin, in the same way as men disguised as women, excessive nudity or “erotic behavior.”

The series, introduced in China in the mid-2000s, became extremely popular through episodes dubbed in Mandarin and has been a global sensation.

Last year, the children’s character generated US$1.2 billion in revenue, statista, an online statistical portal revealed.

But this fervor intensified last year among a young adult audience. They could be seen sporting temporary “Peppa Pig” tattoos in selfies. Cups, watches and clothes appeared bearing the image of the main character.

Last week, the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, denounced the harmful effect of the commercialization of Peppa Pig, which was encouraged by web celebrities.

“A number of schoolchildren try to differentiate themselves by competing for Peppa Pig watches or accessories to the benefit of makers of counterfeit goods,” it lamented.

The Global Times on Monday referred to this “addiction” among children, which parents complained was encouraging some pre-schoolers “to oink and jump in puddles” after watching the cartoon.

In January, the same newspaper said social media users had been circulating “explicit fake versions” of the cartoon online, with sexual connotations.

Earlier the week, the Global Times said:

“It] had become an unexpected cultural icon [for a] subculture [of idle youth and] people who run counter to the mainstream value and are usually poorly educated with no stable job … unruly slackers roaming around, and the antithesis of the young generation the [Communist] Party tries to cultivate.”

Oink, oink!

– with reporting from AFP

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