A character who has been beloved by children for decades has become embroiled in a major controversy over a television adaptation set to air this weekend.
The character is Pippi Longstocking, known for her mismatched socks, distinctive red braids and feisty attitude. A decision by the Swedish national broadcaster, SVT, to edit two scenes from a 1969 television adaptation has hit a nerve, The New York Times reports.
The broadcaster decided the scenes were offensive; in one “she says her father is ‘king of the Negroes,’ using a Swedish word now viewed as a racial slur,” and in the other she pulls her eyelids up while imitating an Asian, The Times reports. Public opinion in Sweden, where the character is considered a national treasure, has shown that many oppose the changes, with some accusing the broadcaster of “politically correct censorship.”
The Times notes that what it calls the “Pippi flap” has become a part of the country’s broader debate about ethnicity. “The few things that are Swedish have become a battlefield where people are trying to defend their fantasies of that nation,” playwright and novelist Jonas Hassen Khemiri told The Times.
The character was created by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, and books featuring Pippi Longstocking have been translated into more than 60 languages.
Inger Nilsson as Pippi Longstocking