Viral video What's Peppa? strikes at the heart of China's social issues

2019-01-28 16:33

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A video promoting the children's cartoon Peppa Pig has gone viral and become a flashpoint on Chinese social media, spurring millions of netizens to reflect on the divide between the country's rural poor and its wealthier urban dwellers.

An upcoming movie in honour of the Year of the Pig marks a triumphant return for the cutesy British cartoon after it was blocked on a popular Chinese streaming platform last year and labelled "gangster".

But director Zhang Dapeng's five-minute promotional video What's Peppa? has made a splash ahead of the release of the film Peppa Pig Celebrates Chinese New Year for a different reason, and has even moved some social media users to tears.

The video centres on a caring grandfather who has spent all his life in a village in rural China.

He asks his three-year-old grandson, who lives in a big city, what gift he wants for Chinese New Year — and his grandson responds: "Peppa".

Perplexed, and cut off from the internet due to lagging development in rural areas, the elderly man consults a dictionary before going from door to door trying to figure out what "Peppa" is.

Eventually, a woman who worked as a nanny in Beijing explains that Peppa is a cartoon pig; the grandfather then crafts a gift for his grandson from a piece of scrap metal, painted pink.

The producer of the movie from Alibaba Pictures, Yan Lu, said the company wanted to use the promotional video as "a cute way to remind people" there were both elderly people and young children left behind in China's rapid development.

The video sparked a flurry of comments on Weibo, China's Facebook, questioning the use of a "foreign pig" to celebrate a Chinese holiday while revealing some deeply-rooted social divides.

The story reflected a bunch of social problems, including the one-child policy, rural-urban migration, and discrimination between urban and rural residents.
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