week 7

WEEK 7

COMICS: Tintin and the Blue Lotus

Question Four: What issues do his albums raise in terms of representation of ‘race’, and particularly ethnic and cultural stereotyping?

George Herge, the author of Tintin is stated by many to have a conservative mindset that was evident in the first issues of Tintin that focused on advocacy and promotion against anti-communism and the conservative mindset and beliefs. Mountfort (2016) states how certain Tintin episodes were directed towards colonial prejudices and their descendants. Bringing to life the social stereotypes made against the Africa nations by the Western countries. Tintin the Blue Lotus, Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in the land of the soviets all share similarities by containing racist stereotypes in their content. With focus to Tintin and the Blue Lotus, it was an intentional move on Herge’s behalf to inform the readers of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria that occurred in the year 1931.

Reference

Mountfort P. (2012) ‘Yellow skin, black hair … Careful, Tintin’: Hergé and Orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 1(1), 33-49. doi: 10.1386/ajpc.1.1.33_1

Week 7 – Comics

What issues do his albums raise in terms of representation of ‘race’, and particularly ethnic and cultural stereotyping?

How decisively did Hergé address this issue from The Blue Lotus on, and in what ways did it remain problematic?

Herge’s depiction of various cultures throughout his run of the Tintin comics varied from caricatures rooted in stereotypes of the time, to depictions that showed a more informed and nuanced attempt at the representation of others. Herge’s depiction of African people in particular often comes under scrutiny. With many citing earlier works such as Tintin in the Congo as the worst in this regard. With Mountfort (2012) noting that Herge himself considered it to be one of the biggest regrets of his youth, along with the propagandistic Tintin in the land of the Soviets.

According to Mountfort (2012), part of the criticism stems from portraying the indigenous people of Africa using exaggerated physical features that included the caricature of “juju lips”. Additionally, it is also due to portraying them with characteristics that propagated ideas of racial inferiority such as Africans being inherently bloodthirsty, lazy or childlike. These depictions are also criticised due to the lack of self-awareness it shows in portraying the realities of the Congo under Belgium’s colonial rule. A regime that had reduced the Congolese population from 20 million to 10 million within a 30-year period.

Part of this can be attributed with the fact that unlike the titular protagonist of the series, Herge himself rarely travelled. Basing most of the depictions on research he had conducted at Belgium’s Royal Museum for Central Africa (Mountfort, 2012).

It is with Tintin and the Blue Lotus that we see Herge attempt to make amends for this. The album set in China prior to Japan’s involvement in WWII, avoids depicting the Chinese in the manner Herge had done with the Congolese. Instead of using exaggerated caricatures, the Chinese are depicted with neutral physical features. Supposedly in an attempt at making them appear less alien and confronting to readers (Mountfort, 2012).

However, Herge doesn’t apply the same philosophy to the Japanese. Instead choosing to do the opposite and draw them using extremely exaggerated facial features. Not too far off from the anti-Japanese propaganda used by America during WWII. Resulting in what Lasar-Robinson referred to as the deasianisation of the Chinese, and the hyperasianisation of the Japanese. It should be noted that Herge’s attempts here came from a place of heart, with his friendship with a Chinese arts student influencing the basis of albums including the aforementioned Tintin and the Blue Lotus, as well as the recurring character of Chang (Mountfort, 2012).

There have been times when the representation of race has been outside of the control of Herge’s hands though. With later printings of Tintin in America effectively white washing certain Black characters. Due to publisher concerns that felt the original iterations would promote the idea of race mixing in a what was considered a children’s book (Mountfort, 2012).

We can assume that Herge’s earlier attempts at portraying other cultures were in large part due to not only his own ignorance, but also Belgium’s as a whole. With later albums such as Tintin in Tibet and The Blue Lotus showing that he is capable of more nuanced approaches in portraying other cultures. At the same time though, these heartfelt and informed attempts were sometimes criticised too. Showing there was always room for improvement in this area.

 

References

Mountfort, P. (2012). ‘Yellow skin, black hair … careful, Tintin’: Hergé and orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture1(1), 33-49. doi:10.1386/ajpc.1.1.33_1

 

MOON KNIGHT: MONSTERS, AND MADNESS #1

15/10/2019 – By Sam Watson-Tayler

PAGE ONE

Panel 1: Establishing shot of Spector Manor. It’s a dark night, the rain is intense, and the trees are straining against the wind. There are no lights on.

Panel 2: We see the gutters running around the roof, they are heavily overflowing with rain. An owl flies over the crescent moon, a watcher over the protector of midnight travellers.

Panel 3: Marc Spector lies with the right side of his head against his pillow, the light of the moon and the lights on the road illuminating the middle of his face from between his slightly open curtains.

Panel 4: Marc’s eyes flutter open at the sound of the voice of his god.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): Wake up, my child. There is work to be done under my light

PAGE TWO

Panel 1: Marc turns and sees Khonshu holding a cup of tea, despite having a bird skull for a head, sitting with his legs crossed in a chair next to Marc’s bed. On Marc’s bedside table we see several medicine bottles with the name SPECTOR, MARC on them and a glass of water.

Panel 2: We see a bird’s eye view of Marc’s hand reaching for his medication bottles.

Panel 3: The same shot, but Khonshu’s hand stops Marc’s.

Panel 4: Marc is sitting up; his brows are furrowed, and he has a scared frown on his face. We see out of the window behind him and there is nothing of note.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): There are monsters here. They have come to destroy this world as they always do. The Avengers, the sorcerers, do not expect them to help.

PAGE THREE

Panel 1: Marc looks over to the walk-in closet.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): There is only one who can push them back.

Panel 2: Marc walks towards the closet, reaching for it.

  1. KHONESU (from off-panel): My knight of vengeance.

Panel 3: We see Marc from behind as he opens the closet. We see the various Moon Knight outfits from over the years.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): My greatest warrior.

PAGES FOUR AND FIVE

Two-page spread of Marc in full Moon Knight supernatural armour, as he pulls the bird skull mask on. He has an enchanted sword at his left hip.

  1. KHONSHU (from off-panel): The Moon Knight.

PAGE SIX

Panel 1: Moon Knight turns toward the window and through it we see a humanoid monster, with five octopi as a head and the heads of several massive predatory animals making up most of the rest of its body, things like crocodiles, tigers, lions, sharks, etc.. Moon Knight is about the size of a sparrow compared to the beast.

Panel 2: We see the mansion from the outside and from the right. Moon Knight smashes through the window shoulder-first like an American football player. The many mouths that make up the monster are open; it wishes to devourer Moon Knight.

Panel 3: Moon Knight punches the monster full strength in one of its faces.

PAGE SEVEN

Panel 1: Moon Knight lands on his feet, his knees almost buckling from the landing.

Panel 2: Worm’s eye view of the monster as it looks down at Moon Knight, black tar like goo drools form its mouth as its infinitely dark, empty sets of eyes all focus on Moon Knight.

Panel 3: Bird’s eye view of Moon Knight as he looks up at the monster and gives it the finger with his right hand, while his left holds the sword’s sheath.

Panel 4: We see the scene from the left as Moon Knight jumps towards the reader, just narrowly avoiding the monster’s massive foot coming down where he was standing. Despite the size and presumed weight of the beast no damage is done to the grass. Moon Knight is drawing the sword with his right hand as he jumps.

Panel 5: Bird’s eye view of Moon Knight with his sword drawn jumping towards the drooling, screaming heads of monsters and predators. The sword glows hauntingly white, a cloud of energy surrounding it, appearing to be smoke, as it rises it turns into furious skulls. Moon Knight is fearless, either through bravery, stupidity, or an innate suspicion of everything his mind shows him.

Panel 6: With one slash Moon Knight takes off three of the hundreds of heads that make up the monster’s leg.

PAGE EIGHT

Panel 1: The creature reaches down, enraged, and hungry reaches down towards Moon Knight, fully intent on killing and devouring him.

Panel 2: Moon Knight is taken in the creature’s fist, the many mouths biting into him, yet not drawing blood.

Panel 3: Moon Knight retaliates by forcing his sword into a wolf head that’s biting him, black blood going everywhere, all over his white superhero suit.

PAGE NINE

Panel 1: The monster, in pain, lets go of Moon Knight and he jumps towards its head.

Panel 2: We look at Moon Knight from over the monster’s shoulder as he comes down towards it, his sword held high the blade going downwards towards it face.

Panel 3: Moon Knight plunges the sword deep into his eye, the reader can barely tell where the eye ends and the black thick blood begins. It covers even more of the Moon Knight suit.

Panel 4: Moon Knight puts his feet against one of the monster’s five squid faces that make up its head.

Panel 5: Moon Knight jumps away from the monster as the energy around the blade extends it to be several times longer than Moon Knight’s own height.

PAGE TEN

Full page spread of Moon Knight decapitating the monster with one slash.

PAGE ELEVEN

Panel 1: We see Moon Knight from behind as he lands on his feet once again, the monster falls to its knees in the background as its black blood mixes with the actual rain, coming down on Moon Knight.

Panel 2: As the mixed rain continues as Moon Knight sheathes his sword.

Panel 3: Point of view shot as Moon Knight looks at his own black, blood-soaked palms.

Panel 4: Point of view shot of Moon Knight’s hands now balled into fists.

PAGE TWELVE

Panel 1: We see Moon Knight from side on from the waist up, this continues for each panel on this page as he walks back into his mansion.

Panel 2: Moon Knight walks through the kitchen.

Panel 3: Moon Knight climbs the stairs.

Panel 4: Moon Knight opens the bedroom door.

PAGE THIRTEEN
Panel 1:
Moon Knight takes off all the armour.

Panel 2: Marc Spector, now wearing only his underwear, walks over to his bedside table, the chair where Khnoshu earlier sat is now empty.

Panel 3: Marc grabs one of the bottles with his name on it with his right hand.

PAGE FOURTEEN

Panel 1: Point of view shot of Marc opening the bottle with his left hand.

Panel 2: Point of view shot of Marc shaking two of the pills out of the bottle into his left hand.

Panel 3: Close up of marc throwing the pills into his mouth.

Panel 4: Close up of Marc taking a sip of water.

Panel 5: Marc collapses to his bed.

PAGE FOURTEEN

Panel 1: Bird’s eye view of Marc as he wakes up the next morning.

Panel 2: Marc sits up, running his hands over his face.

Panel 3: Marc walks over to what’s left of his window.

Panel 4: We see out through the hole where the window used to be and see no sight of the monster, just nice unharmed grass and not a drop of blood to be seen.

Panel 5: We see the Moon Knight armor on the floor, completely immaculately clean. No damage, no blood, nothing.

Panel 6: Marc runs his hand through his hair in anger and concern as he realizes what may well have really happened.

Marc: Goddammit.

 

Exegesis.

 

 

I waffled a lot on what I was going to do for this project and I did come up with some fairly good ideas, but eventually, I decided that I would be able to come up with the best work I could do with a script. Initially I wanted to do a combination of Moon Knight and Lovecraftian horror, but eventually, that somewhat gave way to what I eventually did do. More on that later.

While I had, at first, considered doing a collective journey, I concluded that there just wasn’t enough space in the word count for that. See when you have a focus on more than one character you need more words in order to give them a satisfactory degree of attention. As such, I decided to go for the hero’s journey with a very minimal number of characters. Moon Knight, Khonshu and a monster to fight, because you need one.

With regards to the hero’s journey, in this case, I shook up the order of events just a tad, and far from used all of them. But the ones I used I feel are some of the most important, especially in a shorter story.

The call to adventure and meeting the mentor: Because that Marc already knows Khonshu, saying “meeting the mentor” is a little bit inaccurate, but I think it counts given that Khonshu is there to tell him what to do and in this case tells him to slay the beast.

Refusing the call: Marc, suspicious of what he’s saying due to his mental health issues in the comics, reaches for his medication, but Khonshu stops him from taking it.

Crossing the threshold: Marc decides to accept what he’s being told and suits up to fight the monster.

Ordeal: There are two in place here, the physical battle against the monster and potentially the mental battle against Marc’s own mental illnesses, hence the implication that all of this was hallucinatory in nature.

The road back: Upon returning to bed and throwing his armour off, Marc does have a degree of satisfaction, but he is still suspicious, hence the choice to take the medication at the end.

Return with the elixir: Marc is rewarded with taking his medicine and getting back to sleep. However, upon awakening and finding every trace of the previous night’s ordeal gone, he is given the knowledge that his suspicions may well have been right and degree of both vindication and concern (Bronzite, n.d.).

Much like with Lovecraft, Moon Knight deals in both interdimensional gods and mental health. Compare for a moments Dagon to Moon Knight (2016). The protagonist of Dagon himself openly wondering if the story he is recounting is even true, or if he has simply succumbed to madness and in Moon Knight (2016) Marc Spector does the same, ultimately being told by Khonshu to trust his own madness and let it guide him (Lemire, 2016) (Lovecraft, 1919). Warren Ellis’ take on Moon Knight even raising the question of if Marc Spector’s dissociative identity disorder is even real and posing the possibility that Khonshu’s inhuman consciousness inhabiting his brain caused brain damage and Marc’s multiple personalities are as a result of his mind trying desperately to accommodate it (Ellis, 2014).

Hence my choice to question the existence of what Marc is fighting, it wasn’t just a dream, he really did smash through his own window, but maybe what he fought wasn’t there and he was just hallucinating. Or perhaps what he saw really was there and simply vanished after its death, or maybe his medication affects his ability to perceive things from other planes. I leave that open to interpretation.

Bronzite, D. (n.d.). The Hero’s Journey – Mythic Structure of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth. Retrieved from http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-hero-journey-mythic-structure-of-joseph-campbell-monomyth.html

Lemire, J. (2016). Moon Knight Vol. 1: Lunatic. New York, NY: Marvel Entertainment.

Lovecraft, H. P. (1919). Dagon.

Ellis, W. (2014). Moon Knight Vol. 7. New York, NY: Marvel Entertainment.

 

 

 

 

Week Seven: Tin Tin and Blue Lotus

Question Four: What issues do his albums raise in terms of representation of ‘race’, and particularly ethnic and cultural stereotyping?

Answer:

Hergé was one of the most prolific and popular of twentieth century comic author, his most popular work The Adventure of Tintin holds a prolific stature in the popular culture, particularly in the non-United States anglophone and francophone worlds (Mountfort, 2012). As a cultural product, the franchise enjoys enviable market penetration, it remains a fixture of many children’s reading development as well as viewing pleasure, is frequently employed in additional language acquisition, and its iconography is so unique that it is instantly recognizable around much of the world (Mountfort, 2016). But the series has been accused of bundling racist, right-wing and reactionary focalization across his trans-media platforms it has reached today. As Apostolidès (2010) comments on Hergé’s comic work Tintin from a critical point of view, “This hypocrite, this boy feigning innocence, this ugly little monkey cannot fool us any longer. It’s time we exposed him for what he really is. Tintin is a forty-year-old dwarf, a colonialist, and a zoophile, with homosexual tendencies to boot. This is the despicable character we set up as a hero for our dear little children” (pg. 8).

Tintin in the Congo (1930), Hergé mimics the colonial prejudices, as African being “variously; credulous, untrustworthy, bloodthirsty, servile, lazy and childlike” (Mountfort, 2016, pg. 4). He is re-iterating the socially constructed stereotypes present in the Western world regarding the characteristics of African descendants. The image of ‘juju-lipped Negro’ were hitting the mainstream platforms such as Disney (Mountfort, 2012). In fact, Hergé rarely traveled, he did much of his research at the Royal Museum for Central Africa at Tervuren in Belgium. Furthermore, Congo was colonized by Belgium in the 19 century, what followed was a period of brutal violence that would be better labeled as genocide. It is estimated that the Congolese population was halved under Belgian occupation from 1890−1920 – from twenty million to ten million – in a genocide reinforced not only by summary bloodshed but also by the routine torture and mutilation of men, women and children (Assouline, 2009). An example from Hergé’s works on dehumanizing, racist stereotypes used to justify Belgian colonialism, including the now notorious ‘white man’s burden’ motif: in one panel Tintin is attributed the ‘Wisdom of Solomon’ when he breaks up a tussle between a pair of Africans who are arguing over a hat by cutting it in two, handing half to each. They respond, as the English translators have it: ‘White master very fair! Him give half-hat top each one.’ In another, blatantly imperialistic, a scene where Tintin tells African school children while pointing to a map ‘Today I’m going to talk to you about your country: Belgium! (Mountfort, 2012). As a result, rights movements came into existence just to get these controversial works censored and removed from local libraries. Nevertheless, a point must be noted that due to extensive censorship in Belgium the genocide in Congo was extensively eliminated, but to acknowledge Hergé, he does indeed demonstrate that when it came to racism, he faithfully reproduced the xenophobic mood of his time, especially in Tintin au Congo (Mountfort, 2012).

In conclusion, as an adult, we should intelligently avoid repeating historical grievance under colonization, we must be capable to distinguish the tropes of colonial propaganda and take on the responsibility to educate the younger generations that cultural prejudices cannot be escaped and justified. There is NO ONE true story rather, there are multiple points of view.  

References:

Apostolidès, J.-M., & Hoy, J. (2010). The metamorphoses of Tintin, or, Tintin for adults. Stanford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat05020a&AN=aut.b11704317&site=eds-live

Assouline, P. (2009). Hergé : the man who created Tintin. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat05020a&AN=aut.b11704251&site=eds-live

Mountfort P. (2012) ‘Yellow skin, black hair … Careful, Tintin’: Hergé and Orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 1(1), 33-49. doi: 10.1386/ajpc.1.1.33_1

Mountfort. (2016). Tintin as Spectacle: The Backstory of a Popular Franchise and Late Capital. Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture, 1(1), 37. doi:10.5325/jasiapacipopcult.1.1.0037

Qays Buksh

Q.4. Racism in The Blue Lotus

What issues do his albums raise in terms of representation of ‘race’, and particularly ethnic and cultural stereotyping?

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According to online sources; in the 20th century, George Herge, the Author of the Tintin comic book series (though a much loved, popular story), was also one of the most controversial comic book writers of his time. Herge held an overtly conservative ideology of life and so his writing tended to be influenced by this. the first issue of Tintin had a multitude of promotion and advocacy for anti-communism and conservative beliefs.

several of the Tintin comics, show awful stereotypes and dipictions of different races. though he disregarded all of these claims of his comics containing overt racism stating that it was “just a joke”, that it was not meant to be serious.

What is the alleged connection between Hergé’s early comics and propaganda?

Tintin is one of the most widely recognized images in the world. Creator Georges Remi who published under the pen name Hegre, First sent Tintin to Russia in, Tintin in the land of the Soviets, which was published in 1929. With twenty four editions that followed which to date have been published over 200 million times, it can easily be said that Tintin is a worldwide phenomenon. But could the early works could also be considered a form of propaganda? Well, if you look at the early edition and here we will look at Tintin in the land of the Soviets, Tintin in the Congo and The Blue lotus. the alleged connection is not hard to make out. Filled with racist stereotypes and historical reimaginings certainly the works could have been used as such. But I would argue that though the works could be seen as a form of propaganda it was not the intention. 

The definition of propaganda States;

 Propaganda- Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view

Any work must therefore be used for political intention or to sell a point of view for it to be considered propaganda. I understand that this is some what broadening the question but the alleged connection is easy to find. The purpose of these early works is more interesting. 

Tintin in the land of the soviets: first published in 1929

As a simple description of the stories plot, Tintin travels to Russia and exposes the attempt by Commuunist thugs to sell the success of their regime to capitalist investors. Tintin, without too much difficulty thwarts the bad guys and returns to Belgium a hero. 

 Mountfort (2012) makes note that the anti Bolshevik attitudes in western Europe at the time can be read in the stories plot and so we could summarize that the work is this in nature. A form of anti Bolshivik propaganda. The connection being seen literally in the drawings of the Russian characters and the stories simple, anti Soviet storyline.  

There are also some pretty incredibly similar depictions of certain people that have appeared in different cartoons and artworks throughout history. For instance here is a German anti Jewish poster;

And here is a  strip from a Tintin comic

So the connection is fairly obvious.

Frey (2006) discusses Herge’s war record, as a publisher for a rightwing  leader, Léon Degrelle and as a writer for Le Soir, a paper which had been under Nazi control during the Belgium occupation of the second World War. Without analyzing that information to much and simply placing that alongside what we can read in, Tintin and the land of the Soviets, we could see how this particular work could be seen or even used as propaganda.

Though the work is there for entertainment. The racist and prejudice view it presents gives the work a political purpose. Therefore it is propaganda in the sense of its crude depiction of life in Russia in the time. We are not here to analyse Herges politics or perhaps more his personal attitudes which clearly seeped into his work in his depiction of certain people. Herge was clearly aware of the political landscape of his time and this understanding is mentioned in Mountforts article which we will reference again later. Herge also defends himself, dismissing the allegations against him, as simply the work of young man. Innocent because of youth (Mountfort, 2012)


The blue lotus: published in October 1935

In this edition, Tintin is called into action in China and basically stumbles upon Japanese conspirators who lead the false flag operation which leads to the invasion of mainland China,  what we now call the Mukden incident.  Mountfort (2012) mentions that this work, despite its very negative racial depictions of the Japanese, shows a significant shift in Herges depiction of the other. Herge is attempting to, perhaps, atone for some of his early work. But while this may be true, the work can strongly be seen as a work of propaganda due largely to the depiction of a sympathetic Chinese view in regards to the Invasion of China by Japan at the onset of World War two. The works intention is entertainment and as history has shown us, the events described are not make believe but more or less what actually happened. We know this due to the Lytton report, commissioned by the League of Nations in 1931, which determined what happened during the Mukden incident and placed blame at Japan’s feet (Kuhn 1933)

However The depictions of Japanese as slit eyed with large protruding teeth, were similar to the anti Japanese propaganda at the time. While the Chinese characters were drawn much more realistically. This being the change in the depiction of the other, but that change did not reach across to Japan. Which goes to show the certain perspective or opinion which Herge supported. In difference to perhaps his more right wing tendencey which he had shown in the past (Mountfort,2012)

Because of the depiction of real world history and clear siding with a Chinese point of view, The blue lotus is perhaps one of the more clear cut examples, where not only is there a connection to propaganda but an understandable purpose.  



Tintin in the congo: first published 1931

Here Tintin travels to the Congo and becomes involved in the affairs between native tribes. There is treachery, conflict and puzzles which Tintin helps the Congolese solve. 

This edition has been at the heart of much of the controversy surrounding Herge’s early works Due largely to the racial stereotypes of the African characters and the history between Belgium and the Congo. The Congo was colonized by Belgium in the 19 century, what followed was a period of brutal violence that would be better labeled as genocide. Braembussche (2002) talks about the silence in Belgium in regards to this history. How this period is seen much as of mark of shame and has impacted upon the national identity of the nation. That is the severity of what took place. How this relates to Tintin, is that we could see the work as a re-imagining of history, which would add an element of propaganda to work. Then of course there are the depictions of the African characters..

Green, in her essay talks about the harmful depictions of Africans that have appeared in various media throughout history. Often these designs are used as forms of propaganda for various reasons. One of these depictions, the Sambo, a docile, stupid black youth with Ju Ju lips, can be seen in this Tintin comic..

The Shambo was created as a defense for slavery, a way to strip black people of any sense of humanity and make them a joke (Boskin,1986)

This is one of the ways the comic could be used as propaganda, but whether it can or can not, does not mean it was the purpose of the story. As excuses are provided for the depictions of Russians and Russian society in, Tintin and the land of the Soviets, another excuse is made for the depictions of Native Congolese people in, Tintin in the Congo. I think it’s best not to paraphrase here as the intention of this blog is not to attack Herge personally and so to not get off topic or have my work misinterpreted I will leave the words as they are for your own inspection. Mountfort says;

“ it must be acknowledged that extensive censorship by the Belgian state meant that the full genocidal horror of the occupation was less evident in 1930 than it is today” (Mountfort 2012)

However later on, Mountfort credits Herge with;

 “Acute awareness of the political and economic situation in the early 1930s”  (Mountfort 2012)

Now here he is not talking about the Congo and yes politics is different from censorship, but I feel a person of intelligence would not be so easily influenced by clearly biased history?

He had to be one..

I mention this because the work is clearly racist and presents a much more sympathetic view of Belgium in Congo and that the above quotes remove any excuses of Ignorance. An infamous scene where Tintin educates Congolese about mother Belgium was revised in later editions to be a simple math lesson (Mountfort 2012)  The work could be used for a political agenda or even as propaganda, but I would argue that this is not what Herge was trying to do. Yes he was most likely a racist who like to re-imagine history, removing all that nasty slavery and genocide from Belgium text books, but perhaps this is just the whim of a cartoonist and not the mechanics of propaganda machine, set to dehumanize and turn Belgium into a country of racists. I’m not saying the work isn’t harmful, I’m just saying it’s not anything more than harmful.    


References 

Remi, P, G (1929) Tintin in the land of the soviets. Belgium: Le Vingtième Siècle 

Remi, P, G (1935) The blue lotus. Belgium: Le Vingtième Siècle

Remi, P, G (1931)  Tintin in the congo. Belgium: Le Vingtième Siècle       

Green, L. (n.d.) Negative Racial Stereotypes and Their Effect on Attitudes Toward African-Americans. Ferris State University. Retrieved August 21st 2019 from https://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/links/essays/vcu.htm

Boskin, J. (1986). Sambo: The rise and demise of an American jester. New York: Oxford University Press 

Mountfort,P. (2012).‘Yellow skin, black hair … Careful, Tintin’: Hergé and Orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture Volume 1 Number 1. doi: 10.1386/ajpc.1.1.33_1

 Frey,H ( 2006) Contagious colonial diseases in Hergé’s: The adventures of Tintin. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09639480410001693043

Braembussche, A (2002) The Silence of Belgium: Taboo and Trauma in Belgian Memory. published, Yale University Press

Kuhn k, A (1933) The Lytton Report on the Manchurian Crisis. The American Journal of International Law, Volume  27, page 5. https://www.jstor.org/stable/218978 10.2307/2189786

Jann Guminer (2017) “Us” and “Them” Some observations from Social Psychology (Photograph) retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-teenage-mind/201704/us-and-them

TinTin

Why should we care today?

The series of Tintin in the Congo was written by George Remi (known by Herge), a Belgium author in 1929. According to the article from JBHE Foundation (2007), the Commission for Racial Equality in Britain recommended bookstores to ban this book on a nationwide scale. It is considered that Tintin has been promoted and worse instilled far-right ideology to children globally by vilified black Congo people in dark monkey image in the series of TinTin in the Congo and smeary exaggerated Japanese facial appearances in The Blue Lotus. 

Since readers from early ages haven’t fully developed their ethic standard and even processed judgment, they are relying on accessing external intellection adopted from parents and children books. The racism in TinTin series has exposed the sustainable message of negative prejudice and the propaganda of white supremacy. The impact of imagery cartoons is more direct and influential than dialogues towards the development of ethics and aesthetics in early childhood. As Hunt stated, “Given the comic form and the colonial context, including the ubiquity of blackface rubrics that animalized blacks as near apes, this visual reading is the dominant one.” The inaccurate depiction and idealising white-men burden created early obstacles of cultural acceptance and diversity operated by the engine of globalization in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, the recent upraise of right-wing idea and racial independence have encouraged adults and institutions to cultivate discrimination to their offspring and younger generations against other races which they labelled as “others”. Even Herge had regarded and apologized for contextualizing colonial right-wing idea, yet the series of TinTin Adventures would hardly be disavowed by the global public because of its enormous popularity and influences for many decades. 

Even Herge expressed the disgrace of his colonial imagery and later justified the accusations that it was due to the historical prevailing tendency which Fascism and Western capitalism were the dominating phenomena. Hunt and Mountfort (2012) explained that his “continued commercial success” and political idea as “a chauvinistic vein that played well to its reactionary audience and inevitably recalls the rising tide of nationalism in Europe at a time when the National Socialists were poised to seize control of Germany.” Although the cultural performances in Tintin Adventure have been interpreted by many and questions regarding racism remain, yet this case reminds us about the psychology and social tendency of dominate majority. As an adult, we should intelligently avoid repeating historical grievance under colonization, capable to distinguish the mean of colonial propaganda and responsibility to educate the younger generations that cultural prejudices cannot be escaped and justified. 

The JBHE Foundation (2007), Racism in Children’s Books: Tintin in the Congo. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, (56), 14-14. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25073692

Hunt N.R (2002), Images and Empires Visualiry in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa. University of California Press: London. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/User/Videos/Downloads/2002.Tintin_and_the_Interruptions_of_Con.pdf

Mountfort P. (2012) ‘Yellow skin, black hair … Careful, Tintin’: Hergé and Orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 1(1), 33-49. doi: 10.1386/ajpc.1.1.33_1

Sophie Tse 16912888

Week 7 Response

What issues do Herge’s albums raise in terms of representation of ‘race’, and particularly ethnic and cultural stereotyping?

Herge was a Belgian cartoonist who created the character whose name is ‘Tintin’ (Assouline, 2009). When it comes to one of his albums called ‘Blue Lotus’, it is delicately and realistically describing the era of Japanese invasion of Manchuria which was occurred in 1931. For instance, there is a scene that Mitsuhirato is offering Chinese people the opium, and those who addicted by the opium suddenly become very aggressive. This scene represents that the era when Chinese people were under Japanese influences.

The reason why Herge played an important role to both Asian countries and Western countries is that most of Western people had prejudice like Asian people dump their children into the river, eat rotten eggs, and other negative prejudices toward them. However, by precisely researching and demonstrating what is actually happened at that time in China and their relationship between Japan – thanks to his best friend, ‘Zhang Chongren’ – the Western audiences or readers of Tintin could adjust their prejudice towards Asian people and could actually learn what was happened there as well as the geography of some part of China (e.g. Shanghai, Yangtze river) (Assouline, 2009).

Nevertheless, with regard to depict Asian people’s appearance, Herge drew them as the people who have squinted eyes and the combed-dark black hair (Laser-Robinson, 2019). It is lessened while describing Chinese people, but still exaggerated while describing Japanese people. Moreover, by describing Tintin as the saviour of drowning Chinese boy, it leads to another prejudice that Western people should have sympathy about poor Asians (Mountfort, 2012). Thus, Herge could be considered as the racist although he tried to demolish the Western people’s prejudice towards Asian people by doing the researches, somehow he still biased towards Asian since he depicted Japanese character’s appearance as ridiculous ugly face as well as described Asian people as they cannot independently act by themselves and they need Western hero to protect them from harm.

According to Mountfort (2012), “in a pivotal set of panels (43 f1−13) where Tintin rescues a drowning Chang from the Yangtze River, the bewildered boy asks Tintin, ‘But … why did you save my life?’ The pair then go on to trade their respective cultural stereotypes” (p.40). As can be seen, not only Western people have prejudice towards Asian people, but Asian people themselves also biased towards Western people that Westerners will deny them even though they are in danger.

In conclusion, although Herge encourage other Western people to get away from the Asian stereotype through releasing his album, still it is biased. In terms of race, by drawing Western people as predominant characters whereas Chinese people depend on them, and by describing Japanese people as typical, exaggerated Asian face of what Westerners was thinking, it represented that Herge was not threw away his stereotype towards Asian people at all. Since there is neither predominant race nor inferior race on Earth, Western people should respect Asian people as independent race with their unique culture, not having sympathy on them. Also, Asian people should be proud of themselves – neither overwhelmed by the Western people nor aggressive towards them, but embrace them and attempt to communicate with them as the same ‘human’ to ‘human’ as well as respect Western culture.

References:

Assouline, P. (2009). Herge: The man who created Tintin. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Laser-Robinson, A. (2019). An analysis of Hergé’s portrayal of various racial groups in the adventures of Tintin: The blue lotus. [online] Tintinologist.org. Available at: https://www.tintinologist.org/articles/analysis-bluelotus.pdf [Accessed 16 Sep. 2019].

Mountfort, P. (2012). ‘Yellow skin, black hair … Careful, Tintin’: Hergé and Orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 1(1), pp.33-49.

WEEK 7: TINTIN

  1. In what specific ways is Tintin a forerunner of late 20th – 21st century transmedia storytelling franchises?

From its inception in the early 20th century, Hergé’s Tintin has continually stood as a forerunner of transmedia storytelling. This would continue into the later part of the 20th and into the 21st century. 

One other main reasons for this was the artistic style of Hergé. As a comic book, Tintin from the outset is a mixture of visuals and texts. However, more specifically to Hergé’s style is how this mixture was used and applied to storytelling. As quoted by Mountford (2016), Hergé (1945) calls his work films, as there is need for description or narration. The picture itself is important for telling the story. This can be seen through Hergé’s use of panels in ways that replicate the dynamic nature of film. This includes using various angles and shots, as well as using movement, action and scene splicing to tell the story rather than omniscient text. Similar to the cultural elevation of visual media in the early 20th century, the colourization of visual media in the second half of the century established them as a premium products. The was paralleled in Tintin as Hergé had the majority of his black and white albums reworked into colour. The addition of colour also created new aesthetic elements for Hergé to consider. The value of the visual is a key feature of Hergé’s work that generates Tintin’s transmedia success as it allowed for easy adaptation across other forms of media, especially television and film.     

The creation of Studio Hergé in 1950 was a pivotal moment for cementing Tintin as a transmedia forerunner of the century. Prior to the studios creation Tintin had already gone from “From a strip cartoon, to albums, first black and white then color, multiple translations, adaptations, across media, film animation” (Mountford, 2016, p. 44). However, it was the studio’s commercial utilization of a cultural product that more truly pushed Tintin as a global transmedia success. Tintin, which had already undergone many transformations since its creation, allowed it to seamlessly present itself as a commercial product. The artistic style of Tintin also made this transition smoother. Lechner (2009) states the comic series had a “no-frills storytelling style” and that the stories are very “plot-driven adventures”. By having a standardized style Tintin made an ideal commercial product. This also made it easier to rework in order to appeal to new audiences. The studio’s industrial style production and adaptation allowed Tintin to maintain its position in popular culture and generate significant revenue for years to come.

One of the major ways Tintin stood out as a forerunner of transmedia storytelling was  its translation of Tintin into English. This opened Tintin up to a much larger worldwide audience without having to produce an entirely new catalogue. However, the translation to English was not straightforward, especially in order to penetrate the North American method. The United States of America was not a place of equally huge Tintin success. Jokes that are funny to a European audience did not necessarily have the same humourous impact on an American audience, especially involving things like alcohol in a children’s show (Mountford, 2016). Therefore in order to gain access, Tintin as a series needed to accommodate the American point of view on certain things. 

The strategic self-censorship was also applied to the animated television series The Adventures of Tintin created in 1991. Although such edits were made it is revered as one of the most faithful adaptations of the series to date (Mountford, 2016). Two politically charged albums from Hergé’s catalogue, Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets were omitted from the series altogether. Other censor-like adjustments such as removing several scenes of violence as well as gun and opium related scenes. Strategic and specific changes like this, demonstrated the forerunner attitude of Tintin. As a result there have been many attempts to bring other Non-North-American series to the English speaking market. Near the turn of the century many Japanese anime series were dubbed into English by American companies that achieved success such as Pokémon and Dragonball Z. However, similar to Tintin’s North American reworking, shows like Yu-Gi-Oh! had several elements including character motives and word choices changed as well as removing items deemed too adult for North American children (Meza, 2017). 

The style and awareness of Tintin allowed its effective transition into an industrial-like product, as well as its translation and editing into English. This adaptable nature of Tintin has perpetually defined it as a forerunner for transmedia storytelling from its origin as comicstrip through to comic albums and full on television and film. 

References:

Lechner, J. (2009). The Genius of Tintin. Retrieved from http://johnlechner.com/the-genius-of-tintin/

Meza, M. (2017, August 25). Censored: 15 Ways Yu-Gi-Oh Needed To Be Changed Outside Of Japan. Retrieved from https://www.thegamer.com/censored-yu-gi-oh-changed-outside-japan/

Mountfort. (2016). Tintin as Spectacle: The Backstory of a Popular Franchise and Late Capital. Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture, 1(1), 37. doi:10.5325/jasiapacipopcult.1.1.0037

Week 7. You tried.

Well, that was a depressing read.

So what were Hergé’s political beliefs? Well even for the thirties he was fairly right-wing. Mostly in terms of his depictions of race. in particular, many of his early depictions of African peoples are very cringe-worthy by modern standards. I believe that is an important caveat that at the time these kinds of depictions ethnic minorities were not only common but almost universally accepted as fairly accurate (Mountfort, 2010). More on that later.

As is covered in the article I am responding to these caricatures are very racist. However, I generally air on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt with something like this, these racist depictions are as much a product of the world around Herge as they are a product of the man himself. When he says he was a product of the circles he ran in I believe him. That being said, Hergé should absolutely not be given a free pass for it. The criticisms he received were absolutely warranted for his work to be considered racist even in the 30’s it needed to go pretty far.

All of this being said I think that Hergé is an excellent example of giving second chances. While his racial depictions never reached any level that would be considered progressive by today’s standards, he did show a continuing desire and effort to improve in these areas. In my opinion that should be commended despite the fact that he often stumbled, or even failed outright.

Comparing his first depictions of Chinese people as pigtailed torturers, to his later depictions as a rich culture that had been stepped on by both imperialism and Imperial Japan. Which unfortunately makes his depiction of the Japanese people even more unacceptable. How on earth he could have simultaneously drawn The Blue Lotus and written Japan the way he did is inconceivable to me. How did he not wonder if the same divide between stereotypes and reality also existed for Japan as it did/does for China? I wonder what he would have thought of the Nanking massacre or Unit 731.

What I do wonder about are the parts of his earlier work that were later censored, it is obviously important to look back at them historically and understand why they are wrong. But I do wonder if their alteration was at his order and if so why. Was it to cover his former mistakes> Was it out of embarrassment? Was it to fight back against his former self? This is a question that sadly we will likely never known the answer to. But I’d like to think it was on his orders and he had it done in an attempt at self-improvement and another try and doing better, where previously he had failed.

Mountfort, P. (2010). ‘Yellow skin, black hair …careful, Tintin’: Hergé and orientalism. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4917942-dt-content-rid-10258696_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/AJPC_Herge%20and%20Orientalism.pdf