Snapshot: Implications of Peppa Pig censorship in China
Popular cartoon Peppa Pig has been removed from a leading Chinese short video website after it became an unlikely icon of the shehuiren 'streetwise' counterculture. Faced with unpredictable censorship, what should foreign media and entertainment companies in China do?
EVENTBritish-created and Canadian-owned cartoon Peppa Pig has been removed from Douyin, a leading Chinese short video-sharing app with powerful editing capabilities, amid state media claims that the character is being used subversively by third parties and become a countercultural meme for Chinese web users. The #PeppaPig hashtag was removed from Douyin and searches for Peppa Pig produced no results.
Previously popular with children, Peppa Pig went viral among young people in late 2017, becoming an icon of the shehuiren subculture in China. Literally meaning society person, shehuiren refers to a 'streetwise' or 'gangster' counterculture.
'They are unruly slackers roaming around, and the antithesis of the young generation the Party tries to cultivate.'
It refers to people who run counter to the mainstream value and are usually poorly educated with no stable job, reported the Global Times state newspaper. They are unruly slackers roaming around, and the antithesis of the young generation the Party tries to cultivate. Peppa Pig's unlikely iconic status among shehuiren is seen in spoof video clips, emojis, clothing and accessories and tattoos both real and fake. The crackdown is indirectly linked to a wider crackdown on online content that Beijing deems vulgar or pornographic, and which does not promote socialist values and traditional Chinese culture. Microblogs such as Sino Weibo have removed content in recent months. Some analysts have said that Douyin is attempting to pre-empt government action and remove content they think the government may deem suspect before they are compelled to do so and face penalties. Meanwhile, Chinese mobile app, Suishoupai has launched its own cute porcine character 'Little Pig Dodo', which the Sina Weibo microblog has widely publicised. Beijing is sensitive to comical depictions that could be deemed subversive, in the past censoring references to Winnie the Pooh after memes compared the honey-loving cartoon bear to President Xi Jinping. In 2015, a meme of Xi standing up through the roof of a parade car paired with a Winnie the Pooh toy car was reportedly China's most censored photograph.