Frozen, Peppa Pig, and Baby Shark
If you have toddler to preschool-aged child, or if there’s a grandchild, niece, nephew, or another little one you spend time with, you know all about a different sort of subculture. Adults who don’t spend a lot of time with children have probably never heard of characters like Baby Shark, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Masha and the Bear, Niloya, or Daniel the Tiger.
Although the songs in children’s programmes have changed, from what I’ve observed in my daughter and her friends, a very clever generation is on its way. However, it’s pretty difficult to understand the popularity of some of the music, cartoons, and animated heroes this young generation enjoys.
For example, a lot of parents I’ve met in the US, Hungary, and Sweden all wonder the same thing: “We don’t know why our kids like that Baby Shark song so much, but we listen to that song at least a few times a week.”
If I told you that one version of this song, released in South Korea in 2015, has received over 5 billion views, you might understand the situation parents around the world like me find ourselves in.
This song, beloved by almost every pre-school child in the world, is actually much older. It started getting popular in 2007, when it was set to dance music and posted to YouTube in Germany. The song uses the rhythm from the Jaws theme, and in the German version, and it tells the story of a little shark swimming around looking for food. It even has its own special dance to go along with it.
The Korean version is about the baby shark’s mother, father, grandmother, and grandfather. However, nobody can really explain exactly why this song has gotten over 5 billion views. It’s so insanely popular that they make comedy sketches about it on American talk shows.
Another character who’s not well known in Muslim countries but who’s very popular in the rest of the world is Peppa Pig, a British cartoon about Peppa, a little pig who lives with her family. Her friends are all different animals the same age as she is. Peppa has a younger brother named George, and all of his friends are the same age as he is. Although everyone in the cartoon is an animal, they all have human characteristics.
The programme has been airing since 2004 and can now be seen in 180 different countries. Each episode is about five minutes long. Any parent who has ever needed to put a phone or tablet in front of their kid is very familiar with finding Peppa on YouTube.
As Peppa Pig becomes better known around the world, the children watching it have started developing British accents. Especially in the US, even news outlets are picking up stories about how young Peppa fans are speaking like Brits. You’ll understand the effect of Peppa better when you hear your own child speaking like this. Our experience as a family is that if you don’t watch Peppa for three weeks, the accent starts to fade.
Peppa isn’t well known just in the US and UK—she’s really famous in other countries too, including China. Because this year is the year of the pig on the Chinese calendar, two Peppa theme parks like the one in England are opening in China. A clip from the Peppa feature-length film celebrating Chinese New Year has billions of views in China.
Peppa is broadcast in Muslim countries as well, but with some exceptions. For example, in Iran, she’s been turned into a cat. Peppa Cat children’s books have been well received, but a Peppa Cat movie hasn’t been made yet.
Peppa can be compared to cartoon programmes like Daniel the Tiger in the US, Russia’s Masha and the Bear, and Turkey’s Niloya. Except for Masha, all of these shows are focused on children’s education, but none of them are anywhere near as popular as Peppa is.
Even more famous than Baby Shark and Peppa Pig is Frozen, the favourite film of almost every little girl in the world. Frozen is Disney’s 2013 adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy-tale The Ice Queen, and it’s almost impossible to find parents with a girl over the age of four that haven’t watched the movie and listened to the songs hundreds of times.
Frozen is the first Disney movie with two powerful females as the central characters, and there isn’t really a bad guy in the movie. People of all ages like the movie. If I told you that the name of the main character, Elsa, was one of the most popular baby names in 2014, you might understand better what I’m trying to say.
With a sequel due out this November, Frozen tells the story of two sisters. Princess Elsa is a girl with the power to turn things to ice and make it snow. Her family keeps this power a secret for years, but it’s accidentally revealed at her coronation ceremony. Elsa runs away and leaves everything behind, and her little sister Anna sets off on a journey to find her.
Although Elsa wants to save herself from a frightening situation, you can understand from the beginning of the story that it’s not meant as a commentary on evil. Another interesting thing about Frozen is that instead of a happy, romantic ending, it shows how powerful the love between sisters is. And in case you’re wondering, I’ll tell you that Frozen creates a bad guy in the last-minute surprise ending.
I have no idea why my daughter likes Baby Shark, Peppa Pig, and Frozen so much, but I love seeing the person she’s turned into. She loves animals so much because of Peppa, and her English (despite slipping into a slight British accent) has really gotten much better.
As for Frozen, it teaches us that women naturally have no need for men and can stand on their own two feet. Of course, you’ll have to listen to that song “Let It Go” hundreds of times, but I think that’s probably all right.