It was the dial tone heard ’round the world.
The popular meme of Peppa Pig savagely hanging up the phone after discovering that her friend Susie Sheep could whistle while Peppa could not quickly broke the Internet, making the innocent titular character of the British preschool animated television series an unlikely rebel icon in China.
In China, state broadcaster CCTV introduced Peppa Pig in 2015. Within two years, the porcine protagonist was a full-fledged Internet sensation across popular video streaming sites like Douyin and Bilibili, in part thanks to Peppa’s forceful reaction to friend Susie. Internet users in China quickly dubbed Peppa Shehuiren, a slang term for gangster. Fans began posting drawings and tattoos featuring the piglet in “gangster” garb.
But the popularity of the wee pig as a subculture icon upset authorities who worried that such imagery was a bad influence on young people. Peppa was censored on some Websites this year,…