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.
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.