Tintin in the Congo, Uncategorized

Tintin in the Congo BACK on trial

Poor Tintin.  His misinformed author made him racist during his visit to the Congo and the world still never forgave him 80 years later. Well,at least Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo hasn’t. Many of you knew this already,but for those of you new to the story, this Congolese citizen has been pushing that something be done about ”Tintin in the Congo” . What many of you may not have known is that his case against the book,which for months know has seemed to have been forgotten,  has been reopened. Belgium’s government has accepted the case,and if Bienvenu get’s his way, the book will only be published with a warning to the reader on the front about it’s racial context and an article about the historical context of colonial Congo. Moulinsart,of course,will be fighting hard to be able to continue selling the book as they are. Ironic isn’t it? Moulinsart has been a nightmare to so many people over copyright laws, and now they have their own nightmare to deal with.

El congoleño Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo

This isn’t the first time Tintin in the Congo has gone through something like this. The book has already been banned from libraries in the UK and in America.  The book has been accused of all sorts of things, and people want it banned not only because of it’s allegedly racist content,but also for it’s diverse sections containing cruelty to animals. However, I think anybody who has read the book will have to agree that the accusations are true. They have simply gone a bit overboard. The book does show the black people as way way inferior people than Tintin,and I personally dislike the part where Tintin indirectly makes a train fall of the tracks and then forces the Congolese people to put it back up.  As far as violence goes, Tintin kills all kinds of animals from snakes to lions, and in the original version even blew up a rhinoceros with a stick of dynamite!  Yes, he really did. Hergé later redrew that part so that Tintin just makes the rhino run away from a camera flash.

But the racist side of the book simply represents Hergé’s stereotype about Congolese people. He couldn’t go to the Congo so he based his info off of what he saw and read. And so he had some very wrong ideas. It wasn’t just him though!  All of Europe had a completely different view of black people in the 1930’s!  The book was not a conscious effort to make the people of the Congo look bad. Nor is it filled with inappropriate jokes towards the black people by Tintin or anybody else. The book just portrays the world of the Congo as Hergé honestly thought Tintin would see it. Sure he was wrong…but should the book be against the law? Nobody is reading the book and honestly thinking it’s like that today,and I doubt many believe it was ever like that at all.

And to those who fight against the cruelty to animals part of the book, I ask them why on Earth it is such a big deal in the first place. I have yet to find people so devoted to ban or put a warning label on some of our culture’s latest video games that have got to have much more influence and certainly more people influenced by them than those who read Tintin in the Congo concerning violence…toward humans. Why aren’t we letting our kid’s read Tintin in the Congo because they kill animals but we tell them it’s OK to let them slit the throats of all kinds of  people in Assassin’s Creed and other video games filled with blood and gore? Hunting big game was normal when the book was written,and the killing’s in the book actually remind me more of the Looney tunes. Again,I don’t believe anybody is going to want to go out and shoot a lion after reading the book. But hey,if it offend’s you, it IS pretty cruel.  But is it bad enough to ban the book? Worse stuff is practically shown on Cartoon Network…

So if you do buy the book before the trial is over,or have a copy already, enjoy the ”original” publication and make sure you understand what it is you are reading. Tintin in the Congo is one of Hergé’s primitive works based on erroneous information. He was sorry he wrote it later on, and didn’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings. He tried to make up for it later. Nobody remembers the gypsy protecting Tintin with the peace sign on his motorcycle helmet, or the one that risked his life in Tibet to save a Japanese boy. These books, and many others, are the one’s Hergé would have liked us to remember most.

13 Comments

  1. Proman

    I was able to track down the original article the post above references:

    http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/otg/features/x1700903239/Author-Anthony-Horowitz-of-Alex-Rider-teen-spy-fame-to-speak-at-North-Central-College-in-Naperville-Foyle-s-War-among-credits-and-new-Sherlock-Holmes

    Here is the relevant paragraph:

    About the author
    The No. 1 New York Times best-selling author of the Alex Rider adventures, he wrote the screenplay adaptation of “Stormbreaker,” and is the writer of the multi-award-winning television series “Foyle’s War.” Most recently, he has been chosen by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate to write a new, full-length Sherlock Holmes novel that will be published by Orion in September, and he will be writing the screenplay to the second Tintin film, “Prisoners of the Sun,” to be directed by Peter Jackson and produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy.

    But wait… there is more: another article have similar info:

    http://www.reporternews.com/news/2011/apr/03/145scorpia-rising-a-rousing-coda-to-alex-rider/

    It reads:

    Horowitz is now working on writing the script for a film featuring another prominent literary character, the boy detective named Tintin. And Horowitz also plans to wrap up his other two series for children, “The Power of Five” and “The Diamond Brothers.”

    So there’s that.

  2. Isn’t Tintin superior to all the other white people also? All superheroes are. It would be racist make him superior to white people but not black people. Obviously Tintin isn’t exactly a superhero in terms of strength, you could say his super power is intelligence.

    As for animal cruelty being worse than human cruelty, I don’t get it either. Maybe they do it because animals are more helpless than us. It is very illogical, especially since most of those people are for arbortion, which kills people who are more helpless than animals.

    Anyways, keep up the good work. 😀

  3. Thierry

    Actually the Rhino sequence still intact in the French version. In the French version Tintin blow the poor animal with dynamite. Only in the english version it show that the camera scare the rhino away. I do not know about other foreign versions.
    Thierry

  4. Pe-ads

    I find this completely ridiculous. Sure, this book IS racist, and I don’t think it should be in the children’s section of books at bookshops. But it’s already like that (at least in the UK)! I like the book (obviously not the racist parts) but what about Tintin in the Land of the Soviets? In my mind, that is even worse, as it is a deliberate slur against the Soviets, whereas Tintin in the Congo isn’t deliberately racist.

    I mean, a lot of music is racist. I quite like The Kooks, but one of their songs mentions “the darky”: that’s racist, but I don’t demand that there’s a sticker on the front saying “Hey! This is racist!”

  5. Mike Dutton

    To ban the book will be a terrible thing. I do not support racism and despise anybody who does, but to remove this book, along with its racially insensitive contents from all shelves would be the same as saying that the racism never existed. That’s equally as terrible as supporting the racism, if not worse.

    People have been trying to ban particular cartoons, comics and certain films because of racist content, so this is not something new, but even though I’ve had my say on certain Tintin-related matters in the past, this one needs to be addressed.

    If you ask me, Tintin in the Congo is the best Tintin book in the series. Not by its story, the story is bland in my opinion, but here’s the thing: what are the Tintin books most famous for, besides telling good stories? They’re famous for reflecting the history of the 20th century and retelling how mankind has developed in politics, science and every day life.

    This also accounts for the retelling of human behaviour, and the way certain ethnicities are parodied and mocked. The Jewish, the Africans, the Native Americans, all of which were represented in a stereotypical manner, and indeed can be considered racist. Hergé did get it right with the Chinese, and that’s where he cleared up any of his previous ignorant ideas and started his extensive research.

    I’m going a little off topic there, so to get back to basics, we get an example of how history has changed and how racism was seen in days of old. That is one of the finest historical aspects seen in Tintin, where we see how the world has changed from then. Tintin in the Congo is the best book because of this. It’s horribly racist, but that’s why it’s so important; it shows how we have changed for the better.

    And people say children shouldn’t read it? Of course they should! Not to purchase perhaps, but this book should be shown to children in history classes, to show them examples on how things were. If they are learning about racism, then this book should be shown to them. They love comics, and a whole comic that unintentionally tells them that racism is wrong would really educate them.

    These days, Tintin in the Congo could be seen as an educational tool; a book that tells an adventure, but also shows examples of racism. It’s entertaining enough, and you clearly learn about the wrong in people of the time. Not Hergé, not Tintin, but the ignorant people who believed what they were seeing, reading and hearing in the news at the time was right. It wasn’t, and that’s why Tintin in the Congo has to stay. If this book goes, so does one of the finest examples of the change of man in the 20th century.

  6. Proman

    “to remove this book, along with its racially insensitive contents from all shelves would be the same as saying that the racism never existed. That’s equally as terrible as supporting the racism, if not worse.”

    That’s nonsense. At least as far as being worse than racism goes. But what Matt and others seem to be overlooking is the fact that these books can not only be racist but also deeply offensive. I strongly believe that one cannot counter claims of something being offensive with “well, it’s really not that bad” or “try to look at it in the proper context”. It’s still offensive and as far as I’m concerned getting these things out of circulation may not be a wrong thing to do. I don’t really buy the whole “pretending the racism” didn’t exist thing. It’s inescapable. Unfortunately. And no matter how many captions or warnings peopke put on things, it still doesn’t prevent harmful stereotypes from being reinforced.

    Basically, if Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo says he finds the book offensive I am not going to be one to tell him he’s wrong or that he’s feelings are less important than… whatever.

    I realize that mine is not a popular opinion but please understand that I say this not as someone who is anti-Tintin but someone who thinks that taking about these issues and taking concerns seriously actually represents progress.

  7. Mike Dutton

    Banning the book from the public eye and preventing people’s rights to see it and judge it for themselves will ultimately make it non-existent. You have good points Proman, but to take away the book will eventually result in people claiming it never existed. Is it better to say ‘yes, we were racist back then, and this shows us just how wrong we were’, or is it better to say ‘we were never racist. the book has been banned and is non-existent, so how can you prove we were?’

    I said it in my comment, and I’ll say it again: The book is important, because it shows so many of mankind’s faults, and we shouldn’t ignore or deny it by removing the book from the public. We should admit our wrongs and keep the book in stores to show how things have changed. And no it isn’t nonsense. It’s definitely wrong to ban the book, because it’ll be like it never happened. We know it did. It was wrong back then, and it is wrong today, but it should be accepted for what it is, and not cut, changed or banned, because it’s a product of the time. It is seriously outdated, yes, but that is no excuse to just throw it away.

  8. Matt

    Hang on – are they actually considering banning it? Or just a warning label? Have no problem with them putting a label on it…

  9. Mike Dutton

    @Matt. When the book was released in the UK, it was sealed up and released with a warning label. It also featured a forward by the translators Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner, explaining that it was a product of its time, and that people may find it offensive. But even with that information, this jerk still wants it taking off the shelves. I’ve stated twice already, and I’m going to say it again. Banning this comic will not take the racism away, it’ll make it look as if it never happened, which is wrong, because we should acknowledge the book as a product of the time and use it primarily as an educational tool to teach children and students (who enjoy reading comics) that this was how things were seen at the time. We can’t just lie by banning the book.

  10. Caleb

    I’m a black Ethiopian and I believe it should NOT be banned…and the rhino exploding by dynamite was honestly pretty funny

Comments are closed.