Peppa Pig banned from Chinese video app after becoming ‘subversive,’ counterculture icon

Over the last few months, the popular British cartoon character has attained a gangster reputation

Peppa Pig looks to be joining the notorious Winnie the Pooh in the ranks of cartoon enemies of the state in China after becoming a favorite of the “subversive” elements in Chinese society.

Users of China’s popular short video-sharing platform Douyin noticed recently that clips containing the British cartoon character were suddenly nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, searches for “Peppa Pig” turned up no results and a Peppa Pig hashtag that once boasted some 30,000 video clips has also been removed from the site, reported the state-run Global Times yesterday.

Moreover, a purported official list of topics that are banned on Douyin has circulated around on the Chinese internet. It includes Peppa Pig alongside things like nudity, guns, and men dressing up like women.

This is quite the change in fortune for the cartoon pig which has enjoyed tremendous popularity in China since being properly introduced to the country in 2015. However, it appears that in recent months Peppa has picked up a whole new type of fan base, one that the Chinese government does not approve of.

According to the Global Times, Peppa Pig has become a “subculture icon” among the shehuiren (社会人) of China, a term that refers to slackers, hoodlums, gangsters, and other types of youths that Beijing frowns upon. These new Peppa Pig fans have spawned countless memes and parodies of the children’s cartoon, often of a dark, graphic, or sexually suggestive nature.

Meanwhile, a new online fad has been birthed in which net users pose for photos showing off all of their various Peppa Pig merchandise — from bags to plush toys to temporary tattoos. While this trend may have started out innocently enough with popular actors and musicians even participating, it has since spiraled out of control, greatly benefiting the makers of knockoff Peppa Pig products.

Earlier this month, images of an “antique” Peppa Pig porcelain cup went viral online. Though the artist claimed that he had no intention of mass producing the cup, it wasn’t long before one Taobao vendor was selling out of the cups.

It’s important to note that no other Chinese social media platform has yet banned Peppa Pig and the cartoon remains available on video sites like iQiyi. It appears that this campaign is confined to “subversive” user-generated content, while the show itself is not at risk of being blocked.

However, one Chinese site has already taken this opportunity to promote its own officially-sanctioned Peppa Pig alternative — “Little Pig Dudu” (小猪嘟嘟).

The character was launched by Sina on its video platform Suishoupai, a rival of Douyin’s, and is being heavily promoted on Sina Weibo where users are encouraged to post photos of themselves with the squeaky-clean “Dudu.”

“Thousands of users have subsequently registered, and posted pictures of themselves next to emojis of the state-approved pig,” reports the BBC.

[Images via China Daily]