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China clamps down on violent cartoon adaptations

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    15:11, January 23, 2018

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Chinese authorities on Monday called for a thorough investigation into the country’s major video platforms after a large number of cartoon adaptations targeting young kids with sexual or violent content have caused an online uproar among the public.

According to an announcement released by Beijing Cultural Market Law Enforcement Division (CMLE) on Monday, a large number of supposedly child-friendly videos which contain themes inappropriate for kids have been prevailing on China’s video platforms. In order to capture search results and attract attention from young viewers, the titles and descriptions usually feature the names of famous animated characters such “Elsa” from Disney’s Frozen, as well as keywords including “Learn English” and “children videos.”

The videos, which are known for presenting content such as violence, fetishes, and toilet humor, can be found on all major Chinese video platforms. A search for “Elsa Surgery” on Tencent Video yields over 20 results, with the famous cartoon character being tied on a bed, while a doctor-like character cracks open her skull. Despite the disturbing nature of these videos, many have attracted tens of thousands of views.

CMLE, along with China’s Office of the National Work Group for “Combating Pornography and Illegal Publications,” have already ordered the country’s video platforms to carry out a thorough inspection into all online art creations involving children, such as clay animation, video games, and child play. Sensitive keywords such as “child cult film” and “Elsa got pregnant” should be banned from all research engines.

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As of press time, most of the videos mentioned above have already been removed from China’s major video platforms and forums.

“While the behavioral effects of these videos are not currently understood scientifically, there is no doubt that such violent content, especially when disguised as cartoons, will have a bad influence on young viewers who don’t have strong sense of right or wrong,” Chen Sichen, a Beijing-based child behavioral psychologist, told People’s Daily Online.

This is not the first time that violent cartoon adaptions have caused uproar among parents and scholars. In 2017, YouTube started to mass delete channels and videos falling into the “Elsagate” category, a neologism referring to the violent adaption of famous cartoons, after furious public and media outlets demanded the video platform ensure online child security.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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