Peppa Pig banned in China after becoming a subversive "gangster" icon
Oh, Peppa. What have you done?
What does Peppa Pig have in common with pornography, cults and guns?
If you were to say virtually nothing, then one social media site in China might strongly disagree.
That's right, it seems the innocent piglet has been barred from the Chinese video platform, Douyin, after a number of web users noticed Peppa Pig had been removed from the site on Saturday, 28 April.
According to reports from China's daily newspaper, Global Times, Peppa was placed on a list of banned content, which also includes nudity, cross-dressing, the display of firearms and cult preaching. A popular hashtag #PeppaPig, which has been used over 30,000 times, was also noted as having been removed.
In response, users have taken to using alternative hashtags, such as #PiggyPiggy and #PeppaPeppa.
Peppa Pig was first broadcast in China in late 2015, and immediately gained great popularity with viewers almost immediately, amassing a staggering 14 billion views on the video platform Youku. Then during the summer of 2017, things took a turn for the strange as the pig's reputation went on a downward spiral.
Rather than inspiring upstanding young individuals to behave accordingly, the endearingly bad animation became an icon of the subculture "shehuiren", which literally translates as "society person", but is also used as slang for "gangster" and can refer to people with a poor education or an unstable career.
There are a number of theories behind this sea change, such as an increase in Peppa tattoos (mostly temporary); the purchase of Peppa merchandise, with candy-dispenser watches being cited in particular; parents complaining that their pre-school children are oinking and jumping into puddles; and the possibility that the cartoon's plots explore challenging social realities.
If none of this appears to make any sense, then you're not the only one. While the specifics are beyond vague, Peppa seems to have fallen from grace with Chinese censors as a result of her becoming fashionably subversive.
Of course, this isn't necessarily a first for British cartoons in China.
Back in 2017, Winnie the Pooh was banned from use on the social media site, Weibo, after he was used to parody the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping due to their similar body shapes.
— Justin Yi-Wei Lau (@justinywlau) July 17, 2017
— 流雲 (@liuyun2018) July 17, 2017
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) July 17, 2017