People Are Using Disney's Custom Merchandise Platform to Support Chinese Protestors
Japan's Disney store is now full of apparel protesting Chinese President Xi Jinping thanks to a custom merchandise and personalization feature.
The T-shirt looks innocent enough: It's just a drawing of Winnie the Pooh holding a blank piece of paper. But, it goes a lot deeper than that.
Here's some background: Protestors in China have been holding up blank pieces of white paper as a symbol of the protests. According to NPR, the white paper represents a call for free speech in China, and "a common message of resistance that needs no words, because 'everyone knows.'"
Japan's Disney store is selling merch online that features Winnie the Pooh holding up a blank white sheet of paper — a symbol of China's lockdown protests.https://t.co/eQggJYY0vj
— NPR (@NPR) December 4, 2022
The choice of Winnie the Pooh comes from a meme from 2013, where social media users compared Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh, causing China to censor the Chinese name for Winnie the Pooh, as well as animated gifs of him from social media in 2017.
So, how did these T-shirts end up being sold through Disney?
Disney introduced a program called MADE, where customers can personalize branded Disney products like hoodies, shirts, tote bags and drinkware.
— Mothership (@MothershipSG) December 5, 2022
Users have seemingly uploaded this particular image of Pooh, and are using Disney's MADE program to spread the T-shirt throughout Japan as a means of supporting Chinese protestors.
The T-shirt design is not available in the U.S., and Disney did not respond to a request for comment from NPR.
But, based on the swift removal of all things Pooh from the internet in China, it's safe to say that the government is not happy about it.