Who’s afraid of Winnie the Pooh?
The Chinese government, apparently.
Chinese censors have banned the release of Christopher Robin, a new film adaptation of AA Milne’s beloved story about Winnie the Pooh, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The Winnie the Pooh character has become a lighthearted way for people across China to mock their president, Xi Jinping, but it seems the government doesn’t find the joke very funny.
It started when Xi visited the US in 2013, and an image of Xi and then president Barack Obama walking together spurred comparisons to Winnie – a portly Xi – walking with Tigger, a lanky Obama.
Xi was once again compared to the fictional bear in 2014. During a meeting with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. Abe, here, was compared to the pessimistic, gloomy donkey, Eeyore.
As comparisons grew and the meme spread online, censors began erasing the images which mocked Xi. The website of US television station HBO was blocked last month. Thanks to comedian John Oliver repeatedly chiding the Chinese president’s apparent sensitivity over comparisons of his figure with that of Winnie. The segment also focused on China’s dismal human rights record.
Another comparison between Xi and Winnie during a military parade in 2015 became that year’s most censored image, according to Global Risk Insights. The Chinese government viewed the meme as “a serious effort to undermine the dignity of the presidential office and Xi.”
“Authoritarian regimes are often touchy, yet the backlash is confusing. Since the government is effectively squashing a potential positive public image campaign for Xi,” the report said at the time.
“Beijing’s reaction is doubly odd. Given the fact that Xi has made substantial efforts to create a cult of personality. All in an effort to portray himself as a benevolent ruler.”
What mores in store for the people of China is anybody’s guess!
Until then, mere pyaare mitron, just thank your stars you live in the world’s second largest “democracy”. Although, headed by a person who’s ego seems equally large and diktats equally drastic.
Written by: Delshad Master