The censorship of children’s entertainment for adult ends is an old story, and everyone is at it – including us
A girl-piglet and a boy-piglet, a mummy and daddy pig, no LGBTQ characters or focus on race or religion; Peppa Pig isn’t an obvious target for controversy or counterculture worship. At first glance, it could be a pretty solid adult choice for boredom or sleep. Yet the Douyin video platform in China deems its influence to be a potentially harmful one, due to its growing popularity among the country’s shehuiren. That’s anti-establishment “gangster” internet users to some, or people who like memes and get tattoos of asinine cartoon characters because it’s a bit funny to others.
Like people who spend a lot of time on Tumblr, Reddit, or 4chan, ironic Peppa Pig fans probably aren’t a danger to the continuation of humanity as we know it. They might need tattoo-removal services at some point, but a government ban on the cartoons they like, as well as their associated hashtags, is a bit much. For many here in the UK, the ban in China has been taken as bizarre and hilarious. Peppa as a figurehead for “unruly slackers”, a cult-like hero calling society’s disaffected to rebel? The cartoon? It’s always been a pedestrian watch, probably even for the generation of children it was designed for. To kids watching who come from single-parent families, have two mums, or are living in foster homes, Peppa Pig’s cosily conservative family set-up may be as otherworldly as talking pigs and rabbits.