Winnie the Pooh banned in China? That's what the headline said. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. We have had lots of stories of children's books being “banned” here in America recently. Dr. Seuss was “banned,” not really banned but Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to discontinue publishing six of his books for some dated stereotypes of minorities. Those were common in the mid-twentieth century when these books were written. Roald Dahl's publisher did not actually ban any of his books either, but offered alternate versions of some titles that replaced a few words some might find insensitive with synonyms less likely to offend. Then there is Florida. What happened to Florida? Legislation now subjects books used in school libraries and classrooms to state censors, with librarians running the risk of going to jail for displaying unapproved books. It makes you wonder whether one of these days Goodnight Moon will be found too controversial for Floridian children to read.
This story hit the news wires when the Hong Kong distributor of the film Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey reported that it had been pulled from showing in local theaters. That film is a story of its own. To celebrate the expiration of the copyright on the original Winnie the Pooh book, filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield created a horror film featuring Winnie the Pooh as you never knew him. You might think the reason for pulling the film was that Chinese authorities were upset by this desecration of the memory of our beloved Pooh bear. No. Chinese authorities are not such tender-hearted souls. They think Putin is a nice guy. A psychopathic stuffed bear would be just fine.
The problem seems to be a joke that has appeared off and on over the years in places like social media in China. Evidently, some people see a similarity in appearance between Winnie the Pooh and Chinese President Xi Jinping. I guess both are a little chubby, and while the original drawings by E. H. Shepard don't show a lot of resemblance, apparently the red-jacketed Disney version (not shown as it is still under copyright) have a greater similarity. I wouldn't have any trouble telling who is who but maybe there is some slight resemblance? Evidently, typical of most strongmen, Xi doesn't have the greatest sense of humor. There is no official ban on Pooh bear, and Winnie the Pooh toys and books are still available in China. It's the mocking usages, such as on social media, that does not go over well. As to why the murderous movie version of Winnie the Pooh is banned, that isn't clear, except maybe that version of Winnie the Pooh does resemble the real President Xi a little too much.