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Douyin: Rumors of “Peppa Pig” Ban are “False”

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A cute cartoon pig may seem like an unusual subject for censorship and accusations of “hampering positive social morale”, but the last couple of days have seen a wave of reports stating that Chinese short video platform Douyin has banned hugely popular kids program Peppa Pig.

Things kicked off this weekend when, according to the BBC (the original TV home of Peppa Pig),

Social media users in the country noticed video clips of the cartoon were being removed on Saturday, and on Monday, state newspaper Global Times said that the #PeppaPig hashtag had been removed from the Douyin video website, while searches for “Peppa Pig” on the site produced no results.

Many papers also note that the platform appears to have added “Peppa Pig” to its list of blacklisted content.

The root of the problem was apparently not the Peppa Pig episodes themselves, but rather some less-than-harmonious memes and lewd spin-offs they had reportedly spawned (along with some cuter ones, as we explored previously on RADII).

Peppa Pig Has Spawned a Panoply of Chinese Memes

Party mouthpiece the Global Times put it like this:

The online fad has made the piglet become an unexpected cultural icon of shehuiren subculture in China.

Shehuiren literally means “society person,” but in the online context, it refers to people 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 Party tries to cultivate. […]

At first glance, there is a great contrast between pink and childish Peppa Pig and the shehuiren gangsters. But their combination shows the power of online subcultures among young people, experts said.

After Peppa Pig started to take on this subversive hue and subsequently go viral, some experts said the popularity of the cartoon demonstrates the social psychology of hunting for novelty and spoofing, which could potentially hamper positive societal morale.

The story has continued to gather steam, but Douyin has now responded to such reports by claiming that any rumors of Peppa’s death on the platform are greatly exaggerated. According to reports now circulating on Chinese media, a Douyin rep told Daily Financial News, that, “the rumors online are false – we have not killed Peppa Pig.”

Although at present searches for Peppa Pig on the Vine-like platform are continuing to show few results, the character seems alive and well on other sites such as video giant iQIYI. So for now it appears this little piggy will maintain its presence in the China market, but the incident seems indicative of various platforms’ sensitivity to any potentially controversial content as an apparent “clean up” of online media continues in the country.

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