Chinese rule cartoon to blame after copycat attack

A still from Xi Yangyang and Hui Tailang, aka Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf. Picture: Contributed
A still from Xi Yangyang and Hui Tailang, aka Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf. Picture: Contributed
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A CHINESE court has ruled that the producer of a hit children’s cartoon was partly to blame for the injuries suffered by two children when their friend tied them to a tree and set them on fire in an imitation of a scene from the show.

Two brothers aged seven and four from eastern Jiangsu province were badly burned in April by the actions of their ten-year-old friend, who confessed he was copying a scene from Xi Yangyang and Hui Tailang, which translates as Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The seven-year-old suffered burns over 80 per cent of his body and his brother 40 per cent.

The cartoon, popular among children and adults, features a wolf who hunts a goat and tries to prevent it from escaping, to no avail. Scenes have included the goat being plunged into boiling water and receiving electric shocks. The wolf’s wife regularly beats her husband over the head with a pan when he fails to bring the goat home for their dinner.

Xinhua said the court ruled that the legal guardians of the boy who set his friends alight and the producer, Guangzhou-based Creative Power Entertaining, were jointly responsible for the two brothers’ injuries. The boy’s guardians will have to pay 60 per cent of the injured brothers’ compensation and the company will pay 15 per cent. It did not say who would pay the remainder.

Xinhua did not reveal the total compensation amount, but other media reports said the company would have to pay 39,000 yuan (£4,000), and that the case was a civil one brought by the brothers’ family.

Users of China’s Twitter-like sites poured scorn on the assigning of blame to the company, with some asking why state broadcaster China Central Television, which televises the cartoon, was not held responsible.

Hao Rui, a lawyer from Beijing Yingke Law Firm who specialises in lawsuits involving the media industry, said it was the first time he had heard of a producer being sued and held liable for a child imitating something seen on TV. One reason may be because the other defendants and the children’s family cannot afford to pay the medical costs, he said.

In 2010, Creative Power Entertaining signed an agreement with Buena Vista International for the latter to air Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf on Disney channels in the Asia-Pacific ­region in more than ten languages, including English.

According to the Chinese newspaper Global Times, Wu Dun, PR manager for Creative Power, said they would spend at least ten million yuan modifying the problematic episodes.

Earlier this year, China Central Television highlighted Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf and another cartoon, Bonnie Bear, for violent plots.