Film and TV

The Mammalian Fascism of Peppa Pig

Having a four-year-old I watch a lot of children's programming. In fact, it's the only television I do watch these days outside of Doctor Who, and if you want to call Doctor Who a kids' show I won't argue with you. It's fine though. Not every person has managed to turn arrested development into a paying gig like I have.

So anyway, I was watching Peppa Pg with the Daughter With One F because it happens to be on these days when we're eating dinner. I've seen a dozen episodes, but finally something disturbing became apparent. All the sentient talking animals are mammals, and I think there's something sinister behind it.

Seriously, there are no avian or reptile named characters. There are pigs (obviously), dogs, cats, zebras, cows, sheep, and gazelles, but there are no ducks or lizards or chickens or turtles. What animated show doesn't have a goofy, slow-talking turtle? Why the kind where the populace is secretly ruling the internal world through species-based oppression.

The episode that finally tipped me off was number 27, "Freddy Fox". In it, Freddy demonstrates a keen sense of smell, and tells various children what they smell like. One of them, he says, smells like eggs.

Mammals almost never lay eggs, and since previously he'd mostly remarked on dietary items that means that Freddy is alluding to the fact that eggs are a staple food stuff in the Peppa Pig world.

"What about the platypus?" asked my wife.

"Do YOU see any platypi on this show!" I retorted. If they do exist, they are probably treated like the half-savage freaks.

In the exact same four-block of episodes that was running there's another short, "Doctor Hamster's Tortiouse". Doctor Hamster is the local veterinarian, and she brings a selection of animals to Peppa's school. These include a turtle, a lizard, and a parakeet. Two reptiles and a bird, no mammals of any kind. These animals, in contrast to the sentient ones, are all diminutive and simple.

Because they are slaves and food.

I do not know what led to the world of Peppa Pig, but I do know that it freaks me out. The technology is a weird hodge podge of the last 40 years of human accomplishment where the archaic stands alongside the modern. Then there's the curious fact that most of the main characters are domesticated animals. Madame Gazelle and Freddy Fox are rare exceptions, but most of the cast is made up of species that we ourselves have kept in cages or otherwise held under control.

All I can come up with is that at some point everything went completely Animal Farm leaving humanity dead (There are no apes or monkey in the show either as far as I can tell) and the mammals of agriculture in total control of an abandoned world. Rather than build a utopia for animal kind, they immediately aped their predecessors and claimed other animal families as their dominion. The bright, lighthearted world that Peppa shows us is only the Big Brother marketing campaign in a animated, world-wide Island of Dr. Moreau.

I may be wrong, of course, but I'm watching the cats a lot more closely now.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner