The Adventures of Tintin  

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"Claire Bretécher (1940 - 2020) created the unimpressionable teenager Agrippine, reader of the fictional Heidegger in the Congo (1988), a particularly un-PC joke on Tintin in the Congo (1931)." --Sholem Stein

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Adventures of Tintin (Fr:Les Aventures de Tintin, Nl:De Avonturen van Kuifje) is a series of comic books created by Belgian artist Hergé, the pen name of Georges Remi (1907–1983).

Controversy

The earliest stories in The Adventures of Tintin have been criticised for displaying racial stereotypes, animal cruelty, colonialism, violence, and even fascist leanings, including ethnocentric, caricatured portrayals of non-Europeans. While the Hergé Foundation has presented such criticism as naïveté and scholars of Hergé such as Harry Thompson have said that "Hergé did what he was told by the Abbé Wallez", Hergé himself felt that his background made it impossible to avoid prejudice, stating, "I was fed the prejudices of the bourgeois society that surrounded me."

In Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, the Bolsheviks were presented as villains. Hergé drew on Moscow Unveiled, a work given to him by Wallez and authored by Joseph Douillet, the former Belgian consul in Russia, that is highly critical of the Soviet regime, although Hergé contextualised this by noting that in Belgium, at the time a devout Catholic nation, "Anything Bolshevik was atheist". In the story, Bolshevik leaders are motivated by personal greed and a desire to deceive the world. Tintin discovers, buried, "the hideout where Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin have collected together wealth stolen from the people". By 1999, even while Tintin's politics was the subject of a debate in the French parliament, part of this presentation was noted as far more reasonable, with British weekly newspaper The Economist declaring, "In retrospect, however, the land of hunger and tyranny painted by Hergé was uncannily accurate".

Tintin in the Congo has been criticised as presenting the Africans as naïve and primitive. In the original work, Tintin is shown at a blackboard addressing a class of African children. "My dear friends," he says, "I am going to talk to you today about your fatherland: Belgium." Hergé redrew this in 1946 to show a lesson in mathematics. Hergé later admitted the flaws in the original story, excusing it saying, "I portrayed these Africans according to ... this purely paternalistic spirit of the time." Sue Buswell, who was the editor of Tintin at Methuen, summarised the perceived problems with the book in 1988 as "all to do with rubbery lips and heaps of dead animals", although Thompson noted her quote may have been "taken out of context".

Drawing on André Maurois' Les Silences du colonel Bramble, Hergé presents Tintin as a big-game hunter, accidentally killing fifteen antelope as opposed to the one needed for the evening meal. However, concerns over the number of dead animals led Tintin 's Scandinavian publishers to request changes. A page of Tintin killing a rhinoceros by drilling a hole in its back and inserting a stick of dynamite was deemed excessive; Hergé replaced the page with one in which the rhino accidentally discharges Tintin's rifle while he sleeps under a tree.

In 2007, the UK's Commission for Racial Equality called for the book to be pulled from shelves after a complaint, stating, "It beggars belief that in this day and age that any shop would think it acceptable to sell and display Tintin in the Congo."

In August 2007, a Congolese student filed a complaint in Brussels that the book was an insult to the Congolese people. Public prosecutors investigated, and a criminal case was initiated, although the matter was transferred to a civil court.

Belgium's Centre for Equal Opportunities warned against "over-reaction and hyper political correctness".

Hergé altered some of the early albums in subsequent editions, usually at the demand of publishers. For example, at the instigation of his American publishers, many of the African characters in Tintin in America were re-coloured to make their race Caucasian or ambiguous. The Shooting Star originally had an American villain with the Jewish surname of "Blumenstein". This proved controversial, as the character exhibited exaggerated, stereotypically Jewish characteristics. "Blumenstein" was changed to an American with a less ethnically specific name, Mr. Bohlwinkel, in later editions and subsequently to a South American of a fictional country—São Rico. Hergé later discovered that 'Bohlwinkel' was also a Jewish name. In recent years, even Tintin's politics of peace have been investigated.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Adventures of Tintin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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