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Tintin in the Congo defended by the Vatican!

For those of you newbies to Tintin, he is such an icon that the Vatican’s official newspaper actually just recently wrote an article on him. Specifically, on the debate that’s been going on in court on whether or not to ban ”Tintin in the Congo” for racism. Now, one might think that just because of the Vatican’s very nature the article would certainly be defending those poor congolese people of the past that were portrayed far from accurately. But the author actually took the time to look at the facts of the article and has chosen to vigorously defend Tintin as his movie comes out around the world, stating that Tintin has been a good example of Catholic values throughout the ages. The article must be remembered and pulled out in the future to hopefully silence all of those foolish people that talk of Tintin being racist, gay, nazi,…you fill in the blank. The article is especially upset that Tintin in the congo has, in the UK, been ”wrapped up like a pornographic magazine and consigned to the adults-only section” of British book shops.

Like an excellent lawyer in Belgium at the moment arguing that the book is simply showing stereotypes from the time of Hergé, ”L’Observatore Romano” also holds to the obvious fact that ”Tintin in the Congo” is simply a reflection of its time, the fruit of a man who had never seen what Belgium was really doing there and only had false stereotypes to go on. We know how much effort Hergé put into researching his future albums, so it would be unfair to characterize hardly any of his other albums based on this one album. Furthermore, the African people, while certainly shown as unintelligent and naive people, are not even portrayed as villains in the story, but rather the gangsters Tintin deals with there. Tintin has nothing against these people and neither did Hergé. There is really nothing in the book that would lead anybody except the most sensitive of Congolese person to truly be offended by the book, and then that guy would probably just see how his people were drawn on the front and find some other comic to read (or take Moulinsart to court…). As the Vatican put it, ”The comic book was published in the 1930s, and for that reason expresses the values of the era – but can it really perturb young Britons of today, raised as they are on the Internet, video games and fish and chips?”

The Vatican praises Tintin’s character, calling him ”an angel” helping widows and orphans…Tintin is said to be driven by ”a sacred moral imperative – to save the innocent and conquer evil….Tintin is a Western knight of modern times, an unstained heart in an invulnerable body.” It’s great to see people still defending Tintin in the press. ”Le Soir” was a Catholic newspaper when Tintin was around, yet another reason that the Vatican would be pleased with kids reading Tintin. I myself am not catholic, but I certainly support kids reading about Tintin’s heroic virtues rather than all of the junk out there for them to read.

Interestingly enough, while the Vatican sings Tintin’s praises, one zealous worker in Lebanon tried to cover up Spielberg’s name from a Tintin poster. Circuit Empire, in charge of cinemas in Lebanon, commented that ”He knew that Spielberg was blacklisted and he took it upon himself to black out his name,” pointing out that this was not some movement of several men but just one worker. The name was quickly uncovered and the posters are still seen today. Of course this was nothing against Tintin, but it’s funny to watch how different countries react to big American films like this and how it affects Tintin’s release. I found it interesting they also commented that technically according to the strict laws in Lebanon Tintin should be banned, but due to the popular black market selling films the law would be impossible to implement and people are allowed to see it on the big screens.  There’s a unique piece of Tintin trivia you can remember and tell other Tintin friends in the future…




  1. Mike Dutton

    It is funny how worked up people are over Tintin in the Congo.

    I mean, I’m surprised that other sensitive individuals don’t take Moulinsart to court for The Shooting Star’s unintentional pro Nazi undertones.

    It’s just insane how people could be so “offended” by something.

    I’ve seen it quite often recently. People are called racist if there are no black people in their stories, but if they put black people in their stories, they’re still called racist depending on the job that character has. If he is a villain, racist, if he has a simple job while helping a hero out, racist, because he hasn’t got a more active role.

    I say that people who call things out for being racist are in fact racist themselves, and are using their calling out of something as an excuse to cover that fact up, and make it look like they’re not. Those kind of people really make me sick; their “methods” are even worse than being flat out racist, because they’re pretending they’re good people who say they’re fighting for other people’s races.

    Nobody cares about that sort of thing anymore. We’re all equal now, and that’s an end of it; people need to really get over it, and themselves.

  2. Proman

    Mike, as much as I appreaciate the whole “we are all equal now” (and it is the “now” part that’s really strange – why now?) attitude I cannot disagree more with what you said.

    It is not just the words and images that are offensive, it is the intent behind them. If someone feels offended by “Tintin in Congo” NO ONE has a right to say they have no right to feel this way or to stand up against these kinds of portrayals. I mean talk about adding insult to injury.

    Let me be clear here that I realize it is not your intent here, even as I think that there’s a danger of “enabling” take place here. Everything and anything can be excused with these kinds of attitudes.

    I have always respected the feeling that don’t want their culture/people/etc portrayed this way. Even if it means banning something which may or may not have other merits. I am generalizing here.

    I am genereally glad that Herge came around in his later years. That’s generally good and encouraging.

    Basically, I subscribe to the whole, “first do no harm” attitude. I really feel that the moment we’ll find throwing insults at each other unacceptable, we’ll get a lot closer to the whole “we are equal” place. As of now, the whole Lebanese situation is sad, almost doubly so, considering that it’s not the first time I hear of Spielberg’s huge popularity in the region. Everyone is simply fooling themselves by separating the name from the movie all while pretending they don’t know who the director really is. Keep in mind too, that Spielberg isn’t really banned there – the movie has an official release date in the country and hardly the only one of his works to do so.

    All, that said, Vatican’s comments are borderline sickening. At it’s core it is nothing, if not propaganda and it’s, again, doubly painful to see Tintin used this way.

  3. Trix

    I like Tintin in the Congo, and since it isn’t banned in Australia, it means that you can buy it here.
    I wish people would get over the whole racism thing. This is one of Herge’s first books and he did hardly any research (unlike his other books) and it’s not like it is really racist to the people (I am not taking a side here). It is probably a lot more racist to the animals (I am still not taking a side, OK?).
    People are allowed to have their opinions on whether it is racist. Countries don’t want to go upsetting the Congolese because of one European book. And we have to remember, as one of Herge’s first book, he, and others, only had an imagination of what it was or could have been like. And I am trying not to take a side here, and if I did, I am sorry.

  4. Trix

    Ha! The TV spot is classic! And it’s in ENGLISH!
    Sounds like it is PG in the USA. And I love the line “The perfect cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones”. Nestor and Marlinspike Hall (from what I could see)? It is absolutely perfect!

  5. Dave

    Oh boy… I thought this stupid racism thing had gone away. It was written a long time ago when attitudes were very different from today. Even if you did read it, Tintin was a hero. Does this mean that we ban “Tintin in America” because the people of Chicago had a street parade at the end? Stupid.
    The other thing that really annoys me is there is a book out there which is 100 times worse. It contains rape, ethnic cleansing, murder, hatred and is so much more racist that if “Tintin in the Congo” was to be wrapped in plastic, then the book I’m talking about will have an entire packet of cling-wrap around it. I don’t even need to mention it here, and the double standards really makes me furious. Gotta love hypocrisy!

  6. Trix

    I agree with you Dave. Certainly more racist things out there that aren’t illegal or argued about like this. I wish that they would just lay off on the whole racism thing. And it’s not like they can sue Herge or anything. So I don’t see why they have to go on about it.

  7. Mike Dutton

    @ Trix

    Exactly the point I was trying to make; because they’re stuck up and cannot get over it. The only problem is, there are people out there mad enough to defend them and make our arguments look shallow.


    It’s not really fair when someone makes a blog about this issue which has gone on for a stupid amount of time, and then slamming someone for giving their two cents about it. I was giving my thoughts on the idiocy of these claims that have gone on for way too long, and you made my opinion on the matter look stupid. A really unfair thing to do, especially because defending these people will only give them the fire to continue what they’re doing, and then find other Tintin books to take to court as well.

    In a hundred years, it will be impossible to own all the Tintin books in the collection; people with nothing better to do will find ways to claim offence or racism towards them, and before we know it, half the collection will be banned.

    You might accept that people are genuinely finding offence in that book, but seriously, the book is too old; it would have been banned years ago if it was that bad. They’re just taking Moulinsart to court to get money for “offensive damages” and such, all at Tintin’s expense, to claim money off the success of those wonderful books. The book is too silly to be taken that seriously anymore, especially considering it’s the most popular book in this guy’s homeland.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, racism has gone from a real problem to just an excuse to use it.

    You may disagree with this statement, as you did the last, but my opinion stands: This guy is a greedy know-it-all attempting to steal money from Tintin’s success by claiming the book has offended him, almost 100% guaranteeing him a name in Tintin’s history if he succeeds. People like that are even worse than the Tintin purists, and I will stand by that for a long time.

  8. Red

    I’m trying to locate a paperback version of Tintin in the Congo but notice that Amazon carries only the hardback – is the paperback no longer available to your knowledge?


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