Wednesday, November 9, 2011

the realm of the ridiculous: two articles on Tintin, racism, and censorship

Belgian court’s adviser says Tintin book not racist:
Intention is a key criteria in substantiating a charge of racism. The court is expected to deliver a judgement early next year rejecting or accepting Mondondo’s argument that the book’s depiction of Africans is racist. 
“We see in particular that Tintin in the Congo does not put Tintin in a situation where there is competition or confrontation between the young reporter and any black or group of blacks, but pits Tintin against a group of gangsters ... who are white,” de Theux de Meylandt also wrote in the statement.
Banning 'racist' Tintin comic from children's shelves lunacy, says Vatican: " editorial in L'Osservatore Romano said: "It is essential to take into account the historical context to avoid entering the realm of the ridiculous."


  1. "Tintin in the Congo" and the equally problematic though less mentioned "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" are already available only as premium editions aimed at scholars and collectors, i.e. at adults. These two books are no longer included in the regular album line precisely because of the problematic depictions. So the chance of an impressionable child accidentally coming across "Tintin in the Congo" or "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" are slim, unless they have parents with deep pockets who buy premium collector editions. Nor is there much chance of anybody stumbling across "Tintin in the Congo" by accident. You have to seek it out to read it.

    I have no issue with removing racist or otherwise problematic material from regular circulation. But people like the guy who calls for the Tintin ban want to make potentially offensive material inaccessible for everyone including scholars, collectors and other informed adults. For example, I have no problem with the infamous censored eleven Loony Tunes cartoons not being broadcast on TV (though at least some of them were still in circulation when I was a child), but I have issues with the fact that these cartoons are not included on DVD boxsets aimed at the adult collector's market - especially since the vile WWII propaganda cartoons are included. Problematic as they are, these stories are part of our history and making them inaccessible will not make them disappear.

    Besides, this guy tried to get Tintin banned in Belgium? And he thought he could succeed? Really? Tintin is a national icon in Belgium and calling for a Tintin ban there is like calling for a ban of Hemingway or Moby Dick in the US.