The Politics of Innocence: A Semiotic Analysis of the Pakistani Animated Cartoon Series Burka Avenger

Syed Kazim Shah, Aniqa Riaz, Asim Aqeel


The animated cartoons occupy a significant part of a child’s upbringing, but its contents can be considered debatable. Though parents prefer such animations which can protect their children from potentially harmful awkward images in the media, yet the examination of their content has so far been limited. The analysis of media texts is closely connected with the actual problem of demonstration in children’s animated cartoons and movies that not only contribute to the development of children’s imagination, the formation of the child’s ideas about moral values and the surrounding world, but also cause irreparable harm to the fragile child’s psyche. The purpose of this research is to investigate the manipulation of various concepts in the Pakistani animated cartoon series Burka Avenger. This study draws upon Roland Barthes’ (1957) semiotic theory for deeper understanding of the meanings, conveyed by the selected images. Moreover, Norman Fairclough’s (1989) three dimensional model of critical discourse analysis (CDA) is used for deeper understanding of the socio-cognitive effects of the concerned text (images). This research will help parents to be careful while choosing the media contents to be shown to their kids. It will also be a source of realization for the Pakistani producers and directors of kids’ contents, that they should play their role positively for nurturing our future generation instead of preferring their personal benefits only.


Animated Cartoons, Semiotics, CDA, Manipulation, Influence on Children

Full Text:



Arshad, M., Zafar, N., & Kausar, R. (2018). Cartoon Addiction and Executive Functioning in School Going Children. Glob J Add & Rehab Med. 2018; 5(4): 555670. DOI: 10.19080/GJARM.2018.05.555670.

Aqsa. I. S (2015). A Feminist Representation in Pakistani Cinema: A Case Study of “Bol” The Movie. New Media and Mass Communication, 2224-3275.

Ahmed, S., & Wahab, J. A. (2014). Animation and socialization process: Gender role portrayal on cartoon network. Asian Social Science, 10(3), 44.

Baig, M. (2013). Analyzing the Advertising Discourse-A Journey from Sight to Mind. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 2(1), 126-135. Retrieved from

Bird, S. E., &Dardenne, R. W. (2009). Rethinking News and Myth as Storytelling Agenda Setting, In K.Wahl and J.T.Hanitzsch (Eds.), The handbook of Journalism studies (Chapter 15). Routledge, New York.

Barry, A. M. (2002). Perception and visual communication theory. Journal of Visual Literacy, 22(1), 91-106. Retrieved from

Barthes, R. (1977). Image – Music – Text. New York.

Costello, V., Youngblood, S. A., & Youngblood, N. E. (2012). Multimedia foundations: Core concepts for digital design. Burlington, M.A.: Taylor & Francis.

Chandler, D. (2007). Semiotics: the basics. Routledge.

Chouliaraki, L. (2005). The Soft Power of War: Legitimacy and Community in Iraq War Discourses. Journal of Language & Politics, 4(1).

Dogan, A., & Goker, G. (2012). Thematic television and children: Elementary school students television viewing habits. National Education, 194, 5-30.

Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and Power. London: Longman.

German Society for Semiotics (DGS)eV. (2019). What is semiotics? Retrieved from

Ghilzai, S. A., Alam, R., Ahmad, Z., Shaukat, A., & Noor, S. S. (2017, January). Impact of Cartoon Programs on Children’s Language and Behavior. Insights in Language Society and Culture 2, 104-126. Retrieved from

Green, R. (2012). English with an accent: Language, ideology and discrimination in the United States (2nd ed.). London; New York: Routledge.

Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures (Vol. 5019). Basic books.

Habib, K. & Soliman, T. (2015). Cartoons’ Effect in Changing Children Mental Response and Behavior. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 3, 248-264.

Hassan, A., & Daniyal, M. (2013). Cartoon network and its impact on behavior of school going children: a case study of Bahawalpur, Pakistan. International Journal of Management, Economics and Social Sciences (IJMESS), 2(1), 6-11.

Islam, N. N., & Biswas, T. (2012). Influence of Doraemon on Bangladeshi Children: A CDA perspective. Stamford Journal of English, 7, 204-217.

Jeffres, L. W. (1997). Mass Media Effects, 2nd ed. Prospects Heights, IL Waveland.

Littlejohn,W. (2009). Communication Theory of Human Communication (9th ed). Jakarta.

Lester, P., M. (2000). Visual Communication: Images with Messages (2nd ed.). Wadsworth

Lester, P. M. (1995). Syntactic theory of visual communication.

Machin, D., & Mayr, A. (2012). How To Do Critical Discourse Analysis A Multimodal Introduction (1st ed.). London: SAGE.

Naghy, E. C. (2010). Directing ideologies through media cartoons. Unpublished MA Dissertation. Universidad Complutense De Madrid.

Oyero, O., &Oyesomi, K. O. (2014). Perceived influence of television cartoons on Nigerian children’s social behaviour. Estudosem Comunicação, 17, 91-116. Retrieved from

Odukomaiya, E. I. (2014). Cartoons influence towards violence and aggression in school age children in Nigeria (Doctoral dissertation, Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU)-Doğu Akdeniz Üniversitesi (DAÜ)). Retrieved from

Rehman, S. (2018). Pakistani Media and Its Positive Effects: The Study of Children Selected Cartoons. Peshawar Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences (PJPBS), 4(1), 97-120.

Rawan, B., Dar, M., & Siraj, S. A. (2018). Televised Cartoons and Incidental Learning of Foreign Language among Children: A Case Study of Doraemon Cartoon in Pakistan. Retrieved from

Rai, S., Waskel, B., Sakalle, S., Dixit, S., & Mahore, R. (2017). Effects of cartoon programs on behavioural, habitual and communicative changes in children. International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health, 3(6), 1375-1378.

Seiter, E., Borchers, H., Kreutzner, G., & Warth, E. M. (2013). Remote control: Television, audiences, and cultural power. Routledge.

Stocchetti, M., &Kukkonen, K. (2011). Images in use (1st ed.). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Schieffelin, B. B., Woolard, K. A., &Kroskrity, P. V. (1998). Language ideologies: Practice and Theory. (B. B. Schieffelin, K. A. Woolard, & P. V. Kroskrity, Eds.) New York: OxfordUniversity Press.

Tripathi, P., & Singh, A. (December, 2016). The effect of cartoon on children. Asian Journal of Home Science (AJHS), 11(2), 400-403. DOI: 10.15740/HAS/AJHS/11.2/400-403

Thompson, A. (2010). Pros and cons of cartoons on children. Retrieved from

Turkmen, M. (2016). Violence in Animated Feature Films: Implications for Children. Educational Process: International Journal, 5(1), 22-37. Retrieved from

Trenholin, S. (1986). Human communication theory. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2008). Discourse and manipulation. In T. A. Dijk, Discourse & Power (pp. 211-236). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Van Dijk, T., A. (1998). Ideology: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Sage.

Van Dijk, T., A. (2000). Ideology and Discourse: A Multidisciplinary Introduction.

Wodak, R. (1989). Language, Power and Ideology. Studies in Political Discourse.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.