Does Peppa Pig give us unrealistic expectations of pigs?
Behold the truth.
There's been quite a bit of talk in the media today about Peppa Pig encouraging an inappropriate use of healthcare services. Obviously this is an extremely serious point that deserves a mature and well-informed discussion, none of which will be happening here.
The larger issue at hand is whether Peppa Pig is giving us unrealistic expectations of pigs in general? Although the show is intended to be educational yet entertaining, one can't help but question whether the poetic licence is at times taken a smidge too far.
In the interest of balance, I've taken three independent cases of Peppa Pig episodes and done my best to objectively ascertain whether we, as well as our children, are being given unrealistic expectations of pigs.
Case #1 - Peppa Pig and the Giant Pumpkin
In this instance, Peppa needed to transport her homegrown pumpkin to the playgroup in time for the competition. She enlisted the help of a RABBIT helicopter pilot, which is something I refuse to get into because that's not the focus of today's discussion, thankfully. So Peppa, the pumpkin and her parents hitched a lift via the helicopter in an entirely safe and realistic manner.
When they reached the playgroup, it was much to Peppa's dismay that she learned that the prize for the biggest homegrown pumpkin had already been awarded to a blatantly inferior product. The teacher, rather than disqualifying Peppa for genetically modifying her pumpkin, awarded her a prize for the best flying pumpkin. It was a total shambles, there was no competition. Hers was the only flying pumpkin and truthfully, it was only flying because of the helicopter's assistance.
Logistics of a rabbit-operated helicopter transporting a giant pumpkin, two fully grown pigs and a piglet from their home to a playgroup aside, the story doesn't quite add up. Pigs have been scientifically proven to be able to outsmart both chimpanzees and dogs, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that a four year old pig has the brain power to devise a plan to genetically modify a pumpkin causing it to grow to ten times its normal size, all in the name of winning a made up playgroup award.
Peppa's stupidity is evident from the outset. She allegedly grew the pumpkin to an untransportable size and had to request backup at such short notice that she missed the deadline of the competition. She then arrived and immediately accepted a blatantly fake award of 'best flying pumpkin' without any questioning about the initial 'best homegrown pumpkin' award, which she allegedly was vying for. The story simply doesn't add up. Are we being led to believe that pigs are smart enough to genetically modify pumpkins, but then forget why they've actually done it? Get real. This is all a ruse.
Case #2 - Peppa Pig and the Tooth Fairy
In this episode, Peppa's tooth has fallen out and she's positively beside herself with excitement at the prospect of the Tooth Fairy paying her a visit. The first red flag here is the insinuation that a pig even has teeth. Typically, pigs are born with 'needle teeth'. They grow laterally from the gums, so often cause discomfort for young piglets and generally end up getting clipped off shortly after birth. So are we to believe that Peppa's parents have purposely been subjecting her to preventable pain? Wow.
Peppa decides that she's going to stay awake all night so that she can catch a glimpse of the Tooth Fairy, an ambitious feat given that she's evidently hitting the hay at 7.10pm. Pigs are known for their fondness of sleep, with most getting a solid 9-11 hours a day. Peppa's plan to stay awake simply won't work as her biology will prevent her from doing so.
As expected, Peppa succumbs to her body's need for sleep. As luck would have it, the Tooth Fairy arrives while she's catching some Zs. She swaps a shiny coin for Peppa's tooth underneath the pillow and claims that it is "a nice clean tooth", which I'll forgive due to the darkness of the room at the time. According to the clock on the wall, this exchange took place at 10pm, a cool three hours after Peppa's mission to stay awake all night was put in motion.
The next morning, the whole family gathers around Peppa's pillow to unearth the shiny coin that was deposited during the night. Her mother teases her, insisting that she must have failed at staying awake all night, but Peppa claims that she briefly closed her eyes and must've missed the Tooth Fairy during that brief period. Pigs aren't known for being this bad at lying, so this is blatant inaccuracy on the show's part.
The overall issue here is that the story was flawed from the beginning. Pigs Peppa's age don't have teeth, let alone the common fantasy figure of the Tooth Fairy. Peppa, were this an accurate portrayal of a pig's life, wouldn't have even noticed her tooth falling out as it wouldn't have been there to begin with. Also, the Tooth Fairy isn't real and 7.10pm is too early for bedtime, even for a fictional hyperactive four year old pig.
Case #3 - Peppa Pig Blasts Into Space
This debacle begins with Peppa and her family hopping in the car to drive to their grandparents' house in the dead of night. What a joy - apparently pigs can legally drive now, obtaining full driving licences and a sufficient knowledge of the rules of the road. Perhaps I shall nip down to my local piggery to purchase a chauffeur pig, so as to ease my travels to and from the library to educate myself on the intricacies of poetic licence regarding fictional pigs.
The nonsense continues once they get to grandma and grandpa pig's house, as it emerges that they've driven all the way over there and woken them up so that Peppa and her brother George could have a look through grandpa's telescope. Is this a good enough reason to wake up two elderly pigs that have somehow avoided being slaughtered their entire lives? I think the f**k not. Regardless, the pig ignorant family continues their quest to give the world unrealistic expectations of pigs' habitual capabilities.
Wow, what a terrific view they drove all the way over to see. That is definitely a star, there's no doubt about it. Must be pretty close to earth considering there's a bunch of tiny stars in the background. It's almost too scientifically spot on in terms of size, colour and shape. Also, pigs have a keen interest in astronomy, as everyone knows. As the old saying goes, 'buy a pig and he will either a) feed your family for a week or b) teach your family about the outer space for a lifetime'.
Things really get interesting when grandpa spots Saturn though the telescope with a little more ease than is comfortably realistic. Peppa asks what's surrounding it, and is informed that the rings are comprised of rocks and ice, as it's a very cold planet. Then Peppa and George magically appear on the rings of Saturn and have built a snowman.
Again, I've a number of issues here. Firstly, there's no way pigs could build such an anatomically correct snowman. They simply don't have the necessary control over their appendages to produce that finished product. Sure, they could use their snouts to lump some snow together, but to perfectly shape two spheres and then decorate it with such precision? Get real.
Furthermore, as a small caveat, pigs cannot travel to space. Pigs notoriously despise Gravity, the science fiction thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. They said it was unrealistic and took a lot of logical leniency with the plot. It's a fair argument and one we should all respect.
The above data references three succinct case studies performed on three episodes of Peppa Pig. Nothing has been tampered with, everything was presented with the utmost accuracy and respect for the show and its characters, as well as the pig community at large.
Without speaking too harshly, it's pretty fucking clear that Peppa Pig is giving us unrealistic expectations of pigs. If I purchase a pig tomorrow, it will not be able to genetically modify a pumpkin so as win a competition for the largest pumpkin nor the best flying pumpkin which was aided by a rabbit helicopter pilot. The pig will not be able to stay awake all night to see the Tooth Fairy because pigs require a large amount of sleep and also pigs generally have their teeth clipped out at birth. Furthermore, this hypothetical pig will not have an interest in astronomy, nor will it be able to travel to build a snowman on the rings of Saturn. We are being spun a yarn by Peppa Pig and her nonsensical antics. Case closed.
All images via YouTube