Culture

Cartoon pig that was banned in China will get its own Chinese New Year movie

Jan 15, 2019

China will mark the Year of the Pig with a film starring Peppa Pig, the much-loved British cartoon character that ran afoul of Chinese censors last year.

Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year will hit screens on Feb. 5, the first day of Chinese New Year. It will heavily feature traditions like dragon dances and dumpling wrapping.

A movie poster for “Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year.”
A movie poster for “Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year.” / Photo: Entertainment One

The film is co-produced by Canada’s Entertainment One and Alibaba Pictures (part of the Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post, of which Goldthread is a part).

Two new characters will join Peppa Pig: Dumpling and Glutinous Rice Ball, anthropomorphic representations of two popular Chinese New Year delicacies.

Olivier Dumont, president of Entertainment One, says the pig has a huge fan base in China after a TV series launched there in 2015.

But Peppa Pig has also been popular in China for other reasons.

Last year, censors banned the character on several video platforms after it unwittingly became linked to “gangster” behavior.

Peppa Pig tattoos became popular among a certain subset of young Chinese last year.
Peppa Pig tattoos became popular among a certain subset of young Chinese last year. / Photo: Wangyi

At least 30,000 clips of Peppa Pig were removed from the popular video-sharing app TikTok, and the hashtag was banned on the site.

The censorship came after the pig’s likeness became popular with a subculture of internet users called 社会人 (shehuiren), literally “society people.”

Censors claim the group held “anti-establishment views.”

(Read more: The memes that changed Chinese society in 2018)

That hasn’t stopped Peppa Pig’s popularity in the real world, where products and toys featuring the pig can be seen all throughout China.

In an effort to reclaim Peppa Pig’s image, Zhang Wei, president of Alibaba Pictures said the movie will emphasize “the importance of family values, and that is something that will deeply resonate with Chinese audiences.”

Adapted from an article first published in the South China Morning Post.

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Asian Cinema: Chinese films
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Chinese government censors