China cracks down on ‘evil cartoon classics’ targeting toddlers
Photos: image.baidu.com
 
China has recently launched a nationwide campaign to crack down on online short films showing children or animated characters in disturbing scenarios, after an article went viral on the country's social media, shedding light on a shadowy industry that cashes in on mock Disney cartoons filled with gross-out comedies, horror, and sexual connotation.

China's Ministry of Public Security alerted on Monday through its social media account that some animated and even live-action videos featuring violence, sexuality and child abuse had come into China and been uploaded onto major video portals. It's reported by Chinese media the “poisonous” videos targeting kids could be quite misleading with nursery background music, bright colored costumes and backdrop design that easily attract children’s attention.

The controversial films are called “children's evil classics” by Chinese media, implying that most characters in the videos are actually low-budget knockoffs of classic cartoon images loved by children like Micky mouse, spider man, and sponge Bob.

There are concerns fake classics would use the right tags to fall into parent-child or early childhood education categories; and once a child plays several of the automatically recommended videos, more will join in.
 

Chinese regulators have asked video sites to clean up, removing all contents in the category. The National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications announced on Monday that it had launched a nationwide campaign to crack down on the harmful videos, the China Daily reported.

"We'll keep an eye out for whether those websites carry out self-examination and clean up the videos. Any company that fails to fulfill its corporate responsibility and continues distributing the videos will be severely punished," it said.

Beijing authorities, according to the China Daily report, also asked for search engines to block related keywords on Monday. It's known that Chinese authorities have taken actions quickly after Internet users first detected the problem.

An English article titled “A group of perverts are targeting kids on YouTube. I used to work for them,” had previously been translated into Chinese by a netizen and then went viral online, causing widespread concerns among Chinese parents. The article published on social network Reddit revealed that an unidentified company was producing cheap cartoons starring iconic animated characters caught in violent, abusive, and sexual scenes. The videos were all uploaded onto YouTube.
 

Last July, the New York Times had run a feature story about the vicious short films targeting children on YouTube, arousing strong condemnation from the public. It's believed that most of the questioned videos were produced and published by many different YouTube channels, and the phenomenon was called Elsagate by media, because Elsa, the main character of the 2013 Disney animated film Frozen was frequently being depicted in such situations as getting pregnant, undergoing surgery, or even sexually harassed in the videos.

Amid strong protest, YouTube began to close the related accounts and by November the platform declared that it had shut down over 50 channels and deleted more than 150,000 videos, according to foreign media reports.

The Reddit article, no matter it's a fiction or real story, has shone light on the existence of such evil videos exploiting toddlers. And Chinese parents soon found out domestic video portals like Tencent, iQIYI and Youku were also infested with similar genre films, with some of them translated from foreign originals and some even made by domestic companies.

“The videos are so wicked, not only because they spread contents full of violence, torture, abuse and sexuality to children, but because they try to rationalize the perverted acts by fitting them into everyday scenes like eating, sleeping or chatting. In the stories, abortion, going through surgeries, being beaten or offended are as normal as having lunch. So, children are encouraged either to endure torture or inflict abuse on others,” wrote a a commentary by the Beijing News, a state-run media.

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