Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tintin In The Congo Analysis

This article was written in French and was totally translated, from a post at dooyoo. After reading a number of articles regarding Tintin au Congo, this one seems to be sensitive to both the author of the Tintin comic series (the French call them "albums") and the reader. So many others simply dismiss the racism as "political correctness" running a muck. The Tintin images are difficult to view, in light of the historical atrocities of King Leopold. The King that impoverished a nation, enacted genocide and stole the wealth of a nation with the help of turn-coat former Confederate Henry Morgan Stanley. It's not "political correctness" that seems too trite and trivial in light of King Leopold's crimes. But, every great historical crime has a cute propaganda laden children's book to justify and whitewash the crime scene.

I don't know who the author is, but as stated before, it is well written, the ending needs a bit of tightening-up, but it could just be poorly translated. --Ron Edwards


Big fan of Hergé's work, I am always (and still am) found as the majority of readers, extremely uncomfortable to Tintin in the Congo.

While Tintin is generally regarded by all readers as a hero without fear and without reproach, always ready to go save the poor and to descramble the most dangerous political situations for democracy, yet there is two albums that make a part of shadow humanistic adventures of the hero: Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo. These two albums, whose adventures are located respectively in the former Soviet empire and the former Belgian colony, attempt, too, in an exemplary way in the world history of the twentieth century. They are mostly illustrations "remarkable" the image that the West, here in Belgium, may get the rest of the world including the African people under the yoke of colonial nations. It is packed images that represent a very particular mindset.

As part of an academic work, I had to make a comparative study between the two versions of Tintin in the Congo (1930 and 1946), by attaching myself mainly on the theme of political correctness, and I will try to summarize in broad strokes.

The version we all know today, compared with the first edition published serially in the Little twentieth of June 5, 1930, has many changes (imutiles?) By Herge himself on the particular representation of black, d a graphical perspective, screenwriting, and linguistics. Indeed, in this period of beginning of the end of colonial empires, the birth of a culture of "discovery" of the world, some environmental awareness, the rebirth of a minority culture, Europe is guilty , and married a whole new ideology.

It was obvious that Tintin in the Congo experience a period of disgrace and bad press to do so Casterman, that forced the author to rework the album. Accusations of racism that Herge was a victim throughout his career started, and it was then to present the album in a form more acceptable.
I find it important to address the circumstances of the creation of the first Tintin in the Congo and the various deviations now seen the replay of this album (now found in facsimile) within ' hinge between a century racist ideology and patronizing, and rise of a collective consciousness to rehabilitate the image of minorities, ie the advent of political correctness: The story of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century is reflected in the heyday of the great European colonial powers. A colony, I need to remember is stricto sensu a territory occupied and administered by a nation outside its borders, and still attached to the mainland by close ties. The goal of the colonizing countries was of course take advantage of a territory and its riches, priceless in terms of Africa, but also assume, in all "sincerity," a civilizing mission and morally redeeming involving indigenous peoples, through technical progress, Christianity and labor.

The Western image of the indigenous at the time of colonial exhibitions, that is simply the recovery of indigenous ways of life in zoos is full of racism in the sense that the West is convinced of the quasi-animal blacks, and his intellectual and moral inferiority.

For reference, an extract of the definition of the word negro from the Grand Larousse dictionary of the nineteenth century, written by Pierre Larousse himself:

"It is in vain that some philanthropists have tried to prove that the species negro is as intelligent as white species (...) If the Negroes are similar to some animal species by their anatomical forms, by coarse instincts, they differ and approach the white men in other respects we must take utmost account. They are endowed with speech and words we can build relationships with them intellectual and moral, we can try to raise them to us (...) ". striking, no?

Collective representation shows blacks at worst aggressive at best totally incompetent, lazy, just smart and almost incapable of practicing a foreign language without distorting it.

Belgium is the beautiful part in this movement imperialist occupying the Congo, now Democratic Republic of Congo from 1876 to 1960. When Tintin returns from the Land of the Soviets, the first idea is to Hergé's hero from America to fight against gangsterism in Chicago. But this time the Belgian Congo in dire need of manpower and metropolitan officials. Tintin's popularity is so extraordinary and so the abbot Wallez Brussels Catholic priest, a staunch defender of the colonial cause and editor of the Petit Herge Twentieth which works before being recovered by Casterman in 1931 requires Hergé transpose the next adventures of the reporter in the Congo. The scenario of the album is very simple and you know Tintin, as is the case in all his first album, simply hand over the other continent as a reporter, with all the paraphernalia necessary for shooting and sound recording. Once there, the hero will live a succession of ups and downs with no real logical sequence leading to the imprisonment of American gangsters who wish to hand over the diamond mines of the country. It is here by no means a purely humanist, as was the case itself many times in his other adventures, as all the country's wealth was controlled by the colonizers. It was implicitly to fight against any form of looting of Belgian heritage, not Africa. This adventure will allow it to patrol the African territory, to implicitly emphasize the importance of the contribution of Europeans in the Congo.

If Congo had the worst atrocities during its occupation by Belgium, no evidence of such abuse on the African people, nor any aggression from the West are represented in Tintin in the Congo, except the acts of gangsters in the pay of Al Capone. If the reading today from the album leaves a deep unease to the reader (even in its new version), one of the twenties there yet rediscover all that the collective imagery conveyed in a simplistic way at that time: Africa is a vast paradise, land of every adventure and distinction from whites, land populated by uneducated individuals but devoting a cult following in Western Christian culture, and just waiting to rise up to their level. Due to the transposition of these vast colonial clichés, this ad made in Congo is becoming an apology for the white man, through Tintin himself. His triumphant arrival in Africa - which also strongly resembles a self-advertising the Little Twentieth, suggesting that Africans attach great importance to the news and culture internationally and have closely followed the adventures of anti- Tintin Bolshevik countries. They are, in fact, a savior and an ideal model. This trick will allow technology to be recognized as king in the M'Hatuvu an indigenous tribe, or chief of the tribe of Ba Baoro'm honorific accept it without asking questions and without any humility. The image of the gentle missionary who will save him from death and that we will see at the head of a mission with children at school also has a great importance. It is an endearing image in the colonial ideal, especially since the missions had a high importance in the process of Christianization of Africa

All African representatives are present in this album: idyllic cruise to rally the continent, vast land and beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife and dangerous, large outflows hunts lions or leopards very popular among rich Europeans, etc.. But this exotic, there are other more dubious references.

The graphical representation of blacks is quite striking. The characters are drawn so rude, and their image is a caricature: small, puny, air consistently amazed with exaggerated lips, and dressed in ridiculous getups: unlike the beautiful costume worn by colonial Tintin 's they are not in rags, blacks trying to dress in Western style, just like their models, even if it is completely unsuitable climates and situations, such as the mantle at the neck fur or even a tie to the topless. They are also observed with an air often aggressive and defiant, ready to pounce.

Blacks are represented as big children, fearful, lazy, incapable of any initiative, deeply gullible, naive and superstitious. Hergé The way to give voice to blacks is also very representative of the collective imagery. Uses terms specific to Swahili culture, such as Muganga which means one who healed so he's talking about these characters in "negro boy" in a permanent form of grammatical imperfection. The sentences are quite understandable, but they recall more of a mixed language deliberation, rather than a difficulty in speaking, and to make sentences in a foreign language. This standard language of the social representation of Black is now outlawed in the name of political correctness.

I think the violence of the dialogues of Tintin against blacks is exemplary, and you certainly do not escape: it is not strictly speaking of insults, but very often mark of authority or contempt. "Silence! You ... We will repair your dirty little machine!" In passing, the use of the word negro, innocently used at the time, but now completely irrelevant, as it has taken a real connotation racist nowadays. In the first version, taking flight from the onslaught of pygmies, Tintin, uses the word nigger mean who has very dark skin, today disappeared from common usage, but then found insulting and degrading . This violence is not confined only to individuals but is also found to African wildlife. Actions speak for themselves (butchering a monkey, a rhino exploded, killing fifteen free antelopes, etc..) and indifference and contempt that Tintin has towards animals are quite similar to a form of appropriation of African culture.

Their beliefs and forms of power based on the tribal system are systematically ridiculed. Conversely, the power of Tintin on the natives is taken very seriously, and the hero himself: as a result of an election over a dispatch to the head of a tribe, he hesitates, not declare "I just started my tour in my village ... and already I see, as everywhere fights." The term "as everywhere" is interesting because obviously the blacks do not belong to a civilized people ... It is also launching in speedy justice, uncompromising and sure of himself (see the scene of the straw hat).

The famous episode of the collision between the car and the locomotive of Tintin is certainly the most striking feature of the album, as it summarizes the attitude of European and African stereotypes presented above. The Congolese and technological inferiority first described here, since a single trans-Saharan car overcomes a locomotive and its cars, vulgar wooden crates. After a quick apology, Tintin interrupts net protests claiming his natural authority over the natives, hands on hips "Come! at work! ... "" Are not you ashamed? Let a dog do all the work! . The nervousness is a legitimate and portrays blacks as a form of irritability, of laziness. Also included in this scene's supposed flirtation ridicule blacks, hoping their attire move closer to the ideal dress in European fashion. Finally, note that if Tintin is responsible for the accident, he comes out despite the glorious little effort made to repair the train, and who is devoting recognition.

The whole album is a demonstration of social relations between the colonists and the colonized, and the will to power, condescension and paternalism of whites against blacks. The insistence of Tintin through dialogue to systematically minimize blacks means that reveal vulnerabilities of a nation implies the need to bring him help. It is therefore an implicit justification of the colonizer, and you can see in this album by Hergé active in the construction of black identity.

Ethnocentrism can be termed as the fact that a civilization judge any other culture in relation to hers that she considers better than others. This ideology was obviously massively popular there are still a century in a context of "world conquest by the West. For the idea of ​​colonization is meaningful to the public, who at the time was already heavily steeped in the bourgeois prejudices ethnocentric, it was therefore a construction of the identities of colonized peoples, what has contributed Hergé Tintin in the Congo. It was primarily to build the colon as a standard and reference. A gradual fall of European colonial empires, the birth will be added to a large international humanist conscience. The proliferation of media and currents of thought of human ecology will lead to European civilization in a giant mea culpa. Belgium feels the Congo, its wealth and its role on the local population to escape. Its abuses are beginning to be revealed to the public, and decolonization in the acts is often painful. Ethnocentrism back in speeches, and should therefore review the social representation of Africa and blacks. The politically correct attitude of erasing all about derogatory, demeaning and hitting is the norm. In this way, the Tintin in the Congo in 1930, and his share of stereotypes, prejudices suddenly finds himself in complete disagreement with the crop now in order. It is not politically correct, and is apprehended by readers with embarrassment.

In 1931, Editions Casterman ensure the exclusivity of Hergé's albums in French. They publish the first version of Tintin in the Congo after the serial publication the previous year at Little Twentieth. This fall we have said, and for long a period of public disaffection (and for good reason ...), editions imposed in 1946 to Hergé to rework the album to make it more ideologically acceptable. The new edition of Tintin in the Congo transform does not however prevent him from being completely shunned by the public in the sixties, following the increase in problems related to decolonization.

The first visible changes in the album are great. For editorial reasons, Hergé was forced to reduce his album to 62 pages then exercised in Casterman, while its first edition contained 109, which in no way affects the course of history, the size of each block being reduced. The other significant asset is the development of full color album. The refinement of the character as a landmark since then tintin keep this silhouette.

If the frame of the story has not changed, many details have been altered or simply removed to better meet contemporary ideological.

Hergé has erased all references to scriptwriting language or colonial involvement of Belgium in the Congo. Apart from its colonial holding and attending a mission, Tintin is more than just a reporter out to discover exotic in a country where it is known that research and adherence to Western culture. The metamorphosis of the episode of the class of mission is also very revealing of what bothered at the time. This is undoubtedly one of the most contested fields of the album. In the original edition, Tintin replaced at short notice a sick teacher and envisions a geography lesson to small black before being interrupted by a leopard. "My dear friends, I will talk today about your fatherland Belgium! ...." The reference to Belgium will also be removed, let alone that the term "your" presupposes a political and cultural integration of indigenous peoples in colonial countries. The course then becomes a simple math, more neutral.

In this dialectic, the reader of the new edition could legitimately expect to find major changes in the linguistic attributes of the African population. The talk "negro boy" is now considered a form of social impairment Black. We saw how the language presented in the first edition is enlarged and imperfect. The new edition seems to have fully complied with these characteristics. However, if there are scenes where the African French speaking now quite correct, there are also scenes where people speak a French normal start talking in an Africanized French. No logic seems to have been followed by Hergé in this case.

It seems to me that the most significant difference lies in the dialogues of Tintin and Snowy towards Africans. The marks of authoritarian discourse against blacks, for the sake of preserving the colonial ideology are mitigated. Manifestations of Western prejudices about blacks are much less stressed. The vocabulary extravagant version of 1930 for us today also disappeared. Thus the term "negro" appearing twice in the first version, disappears completely in 1946 and used the word nigger in the prosecution of the pygmies, humiliating expression is also completely forgotten But generally, the attitude toward Tintin African culture has not changed. Although he no longer treats animals dirty creatures, we see nevertheless continue its massacres. The white man is still considered a hero, marks deference is no shortage (carried in triumph, kneeling election as head of a village) and the representation of blacks is still very stereotypical: the design of the new lighter refined version of the slave trade, now represented with a figure more realistic and less simian. Their aggressive air has disappeared to be replaced often to clean air, stunned, certainly, but jovial and friendly. However, their childlike appearance is still relevant. . The scene "news" of the collision between the car and the locomotive illustrates this point. Blacks are always presented in outrageous ways: their clothes have not changed, just as they are reluctant to go to work and get dirty, and Coco, the boy reporter is still gone into hiding after being scared. "The dirty little machine" becomes an "old-Tchouk Tchouk! But Tintin retains his conduct as a leader.

I sincerely doubt the value of the new edition of Tintin in the Congo. Reading the new version of the album mind readers over the age of childhood. A child more easily rise up against the massacre of fifteen antelope or implosion of the rhinoceros. Only much later, in the light of his conscience humanistic and respectful of all races, and especially expert in African history from slavery that the reader will reject it, seeing it as denial other. I think that Hergé never rework of this album. His changes have finally deeply changed nothing, and perhaps worst of all.

Okay, the cartoon is the form most widely used in humor and comedy. The characters are often enlarged to give more spice to the stories and situations. The cartoon child is precisely the temple of humor. The plot of the stories of the adventures of Tintin, certifying all accounts are being punctuated with gags, dialogue tasty. Nevertheless, the question "Can you laugh at all? "Added the question of the responsibility of the author towards his silent propaganda against Belgian children of the 30s.
King Leopold estimated death toll of native Congolese between 2-15 million. Expropriating the Congolese natural resources and enslaving the indigenousness people of the Congo, made King Leopold one of the richest men on the planet.

"For the Congo, as for Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, it is that I was fed the prejudices of the bourgeois milieu in which I lived ... It was in 1930. I knew this country than in telling people at the time: "The Negroes are great kids ... Luckily for them that we're here! etc.. And I have drawn these Africans, according to these criteria there, in pure paternalistic spirit of the times was that, in Belgium (...) "

Tintin and I, interviews with Numa Sadoul, Casterman

Hergé evidently wants to clear itself of its past mistake. While one might wonder about his lack of critical thinking, it is quite logical to see this album in the foundations of one of the biggest trials of the century literary past: Herge / Tintin Is Racist ?

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