Disney’s Winnie-the-Pooh has been banned on the mainland, seemingly for no reason other than the vanity of Chinese president Xi Jinping.
In 2013, a photograph of Xi walking beside former US President Barack Obama juxtaposed with one of Pooh walking with his friend Tigger went viral. And In 2014, a photo of Xi shaking hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, placed side-by-side with a picture of Pooh holding donkey Eeyore’s hoof also enjoyed massive internet fame. The similaries were unmissable.
Xi has clearly grown tired of the comparison, as typing “Little Winnie Bear” into WeChat pulls up the notification: “This content is illegal.” All Pooh stickers have also been removed from the social media and communication’s gallery.
There was a similar case in 2003, when Russian lawyers said they were preparing a suit against Warner Bros, the maker of the Harry Potter franchise, claiming that Dobby the Elf was making fun of Vladimir Putin.
Donald Trump has spawned an entire industry of things that look like him – from an ear of corn to Back to the Future’s Biff Tannen. However, his best comparison was perhaps BP Richfield from the 90s sitcom Dinosaurs. Meanwhile, Theresa May has often been compared to 101 Dalmatians’ Cruella de Vil, on the basis of haircut and love of fancy eveningwear.
But not all cartoon lookalikes are bad. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has enjoyed comparisons to big-eyed, strong-jawed Disney princes; most commonly, Prince Adam from Beauty and the Beast. The human version, by the way.