By Rory Scott and Tim Shepherd
Children’s television show Peppa Pig has attracted criticism overseas and in Australia, but for entirely different reasons.
In China, the popular British show has garnered itself a cult following among millennials.
Fans satirise the protagonist Peppa online by creating parodies of the show where she is portrayed as a gangster.
However, the popularity has grown so much that fans have had images of the character tattooed on them.
“British cartoon Peppa Pig has been blocked on a popular Chinese streaming platform, after the beloved children’s character developed a ‘gangster’ reputation among adults” https://t.co/WMVHDrkGmD pic.twitter.com/OL2no4HtzA
— Luke Buckmaster (@lukebuckmaster) May 1, 2018
It was the popularization of the gangster alter-ego caused the Chinese Government to deem Peppa a subversive figure. Gizmodo reported that more than 30,000 Peppa Pig videos were removed by the Chinese government from one internet platform alone.
Australian Strategic Policy Institute cyber policy expert Fergus Ryan, says the satire is not malicious but a way for Chinese millennials to express themselves.
“The central joke is that Peppa Pig is so innocent and there’s nothing at all subversive about the character itself and that provides a nice canvas for people to subvert that and pretend that Peppa Pig is a subversive character,” says Mr Fergus.
However in Australia, some parents believe the show is not suitable for children to begin with, because the messages do not align with social values.
Brisbane mother Sarah Yip will not allow her children to watch the show.
“I find that Peppa doesn’t use her manners, she doesn’t say please, she doesn’t say thank you and she is quite demanding in the way asks for things as well,” says Ms Yip.
“It’s always that the dad is silly and that the mum is right and that’s not a modern day message.”
Australian Council of Children and the Media child interactions expert Dr Glenn Cupit says Peppa Pig is not a problematic show because young children can identify with the character.
“The character is intended to represent a young child and those particular characteristics are the sorts of things you would expect to see in a young child,” says Dr Cupit.
He also says it is unlikely the show would have longterm effects on children and says ultimately the responsibility falls on parents to decide what children watch.
“If the parent notices [bad behavior] in their children it’s easy enough for the parent to say ‘well that’s not the right way of thinking’ and talk to the children about it.”