What could be more wholesome than Winnie the Pooh? The “silly old bear” and his friends have been delighting children and adults alike for almost 100 years now. Believe it or not, though, Pooh, Tigger, and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood have been the center of controversy around the world.
The United States of America
Winnie the Pooh has been the subject of criticism in the US since the publication of A. A. Milne’s very first book in 1926. The book was titled Winnie-the-Pooh (Disney dropped the hyphens when they purchased the rights in the 1960s).
Christian groups in the US have opposed the Pooh books because they feature talking animals. Apparently, animals speaking on the same intelligence level as humans is “an affront to God.” Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has been targeted for the same reason.
To this day, the Winnie the Pooh books remain at number 22 on the American Library Association’s list of top 100 banned books. Which is odd, considering there are now literally thousands of children’s books featuring talking animals.
The United Kingdom
Pooh’s nervous little friend Piglet is the subject of controversy in the UK. Nursery rhymes featuring pigs were banned from public schools. That includes popular choices like Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, and The Three Little Pigs, among others.
So what’s the big deal about pigs? Apparently, school and government officials were concerned about offending Jewish and Muslim students. As part of their religions, both groups abstain from pork.
Fortunately, it turns out that officials were indeed being too overreactive. The Muslim Council of Britain has recently requested that the books be returned to classrooms. The council also asked for an end to the “well-intentioned but misguided policy.”
Perhaps the strangest reason for a Winnie the Pooh ban comes from Russia. Would you believe old Pooh bear could be a symbol of Nazi propaganda?
In 2009, in the city of Ufa, the Ordzhonikidzevsky district court collected a group of extremist material from a local resident. One of the items was a picture of Winnie the Pooh wearing a swastika. Somehow, the court concluded that if one extremist had a Nazi Pooh, then others could too.
To this day, children in Russia cannot have access to Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books without severe consequences.
Remember the worry about offending Muslim and Jewish families by including Piglet? That same reasoning led to a ban on the Winnie the Pooh films by Turkey’s state-run television station, TRT.
Originally, the station planned to somehow just cut or block Piglet from the scenes he was in. When they realized Piglet’s presence was too frequent for that to work, they just banned the films altogether.
Don’t feel too badly for the children of Turkey, though. The Pooh films are still shown on many other independent stations in the country and are available at stores everywhere.
Winnie the Pooh is immensely popular in both Poland and Budapest — there are even streets named after him! But that didn’t stop him from becoming the center of controversy regarding a children’s playground in 2014.
A new playground had been planned in the city of Tuszyn using Winnie the Pooh as its mascot. Local officials, however, were having none of it. Why? Because Pooh has no pants, of course.
One city councilor, Ryszard Cichy, said, “The problem with that bear is it doesn’t have a complete wardrobe. It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children.”
Another official went even further with the complaint: “It doesn’t wear underpants because it doesn’t have a sex. It’s a hermaphrodite.”
What do you think? Should Winnie the Pooh be banned for any reason?