Peppa film trailer tugs at Chinese hearts, reignites family values as the Lunar New Year approaches

By Xie Wenting Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/18 22:47:50

What is Peppa? Is it the name of a cyber celebrity, a brand name of a bottle of dishwashing liquid or a new type of chess?

Li Yubao, an old man living in a remote village, exhausted his wisdom to find out the answer after a call with his little grandson in the city who said he wanted a Peppa as a New Year's gift. 

Li, who is expecting his grandson to return during Spring Festival, hopes to satisfy the child's demand. 

After a thorough investigation in the entire village, he got the answer - a pig in pink - from a villager who once worked as a nanny in Beijing. 

After days of toiling, Li, the protagonist in the trailer for the upcoming Peppa Pig Celebrates Chinese New Year film, eventually made a Peppa on his own - an air blower-like Peppa whose eyes are on the same side. The rough Peppa not only shocked the grandson at their family gathering dinner, but also melted Chinese people's hearts. 

The popularity of the trailer which conveys traditional Chinese family values fits the new characteristics of the age when more Chinese people are paying high attention to kinship, rather than material things, Chen Shaofeng, deputy dean of the Institute for Cultural Industries at Peking University, told the Global Times.

"People now have a more comprehensive thinking of life," he said. 

The trailer of the film, which will screen during the Spring Festival, a traditional family gathering holiday, went viral on Chinese social media after it was posted on Sina Weibo on Thursday. The 5.30-minute video has so far generated more than 20 million views and has been forwarded over 100,000 times. It has also become widely popular on messaging app WeChat where it is tagged with heart-warming comments.

The British cartoon Peppa Pig has a large fan base in China which includes not only children but also young adults.

Chen praised the trailer as a fashionable way to instill traditional Chinese family values in children and young people. 

"In the past, the [cultural products] during traditional holidays paid more attention to adults but now we need to think about how to pass down the traditional values to children during holidays," he said. He added that the use of new tools definitely adds spice to traditional cultural practices.

This month a new challenge called "four generations under one roof" also went viral on China's video platform douyin and later gained popularity overseas. The challenge requires four generations of family members appearing in one video. 

Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based film critic, told the Global Times that video platforms including douyin and kuaishou as well as last year's film market showed that the Chinese public's taste has changed. "They have begun to favor products promoting positive energy and heart-warming spirits. In these videos, the ordinary people deliver big sentiments." 

As China enhances efforts to promote traditional culture and values, Shi said, it has positively influenced audience taste. 

Wang Yunlong, a 28-year-old who works in the IT industry in Beijing, said he resonated with the family reunion theme promoted in the trailer.

It used to take Wang nearly 40 hours on the green train from Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, where he previously lived in, to his grandparents' hometown in a small village in East China's Shandong Province. Now it is a 6 hours' drive or about 4 hours' train ride from Beijing, where he works, to his hometown in Shandong.

"My mindset has changed over the years. I used to be reluctant to return to my hometown, but in the last two years I have begun to recognize the values of family reunion," he said, adding that the external environment has influenced him. "Also, thanks to the benefits brought about by the country's reform, transportation has become more convenient."

This year, about 2.99 billion trips are expected to be made during the Spring Festival rush, which will run from January 21 to March 1, up 0.6 percent from the previous year, CGTN reported. 

Meanwhile, Chinese people's personal incomes have seen a large increase which enables them to be able to afford going home, especially for migrant workers in big Chinese cities. It's reported that China's GDP per capita was expected to reach $10,000 in 2018.

Despite the practice of urbanites traveling thousands of miles to their rural hometowns, a new trend has also developed in China's rural areas. 

The nationwide efforts to build a new socialist countryside and poverty alleviation work in rural areas have lured many migrant workers back to their hometowns. 

Besides, due to the development of e-commerce as well as livestreaming and short video apps, young people in the countryside have found financial opportunities. 

In 2018, more than 16 million people earned an income through Kuaishou, among which 3.4 million are from China's impoverished counties, according to a Kuaishou spokesman. Over 100,000 farmer livestreamers have registered on e-commerce website Alibaba in the past three years, according to Farmers' Daily.

News website which is run by Chongqing Daily, reported in 2017 that in Tongnan district of Chongqing alone, there used to be more than 200,000 locals working in big cities but now the figure was just above 100,000 and more and more people are returning home.

According to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, there were 6.97 million left-behind children in the countryside by August 2018, a decrease of 22.7 percent from 2016. 

He Cui, a migrant worker who returned to Tongnan told that many of her colleagues in the cities came back to take care of their children. "Our generation is different from previous migrant generations who only cared about making money. We now care more about children's education and are willing to accompany them."

Spring Festival, the most anticipated holiday and the embodiment of Chinese family culture, is only two weeks away. 

The trending videos are signs that many traditional Chinese values and cultures are back in people's life as China moves further on its industrialization process.

Newspaper headline: Peppa Pig film tugs at Chinese hearts

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