Sketchbook: TinTin Discovers Edward Said

September 30th, 2012 · 13 Comments

tintin

My son was watching The Adventures of TinTin, an early 90s animated adaptation of Hergé’s classic comic books, and it inspired the above entry in my sketchbook. The series is faithful to the look and style of the comics, the character design, the stories and, more unsettling, Hergé’s unapologetic racism and imperialist condescension. If anything, putting his stereotypes into motion and giving them buffoonish voices only makes them worse. Seriously, it’s mind-boggling. To it’s only credit in this respect, the producers wisely omitted TinTin’s notorious adventures in the Belgian Congo.

For those who don’t know, the late Edward Said was a Palestinian-American intellectual best known for Orientalism, a ground-breaking study of how Western literature, art and other art forms treats Middle Eastern peoples and religions as monoliths, as a threat or as exotic, as animals or as mystics, or simply in the way of resources the West wants. I thought TinTin would have a horrible epiphany should he ever come across the book.

Share

Tags: sketchbook

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Melissa // Mar 13, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Love this sketch. And yes, one would only hope that TinTin had such an epiphany should he come across, Orientalism. Some characters and people would be in their own bubble too much to understand the connection.

  • 2 Ismail Jooma // Mar 14, 2013 at 6:58 am

    This is amazing! Said would be proud (and probably chuckle a lot too)

  • 3 Kevin Moore // Mar 14, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Thank you both for the kind words. I think it’s great this little sketch gets some love every now and then. For me it represents an inherent tension I feel whenever I encounter TinTin. Hergé’s cartooning and storytelling are wonderful in so many aspects; but his Belgian imperialist condescension and his eye-popping racism continually undermine the pleasure.

  • 4 Barb // Mar 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Love the image. Sharing it with my students in a postcolonial theory course. Thanks for great art.

  • 5 Kevin Moore // Mar 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Thanks, Barb, for the compliment. Sounds like a fun course.

  • 6 Linkspam, 3/15/13 Edition — Radish Reviews // Mar 15, 2013 at 5:31 am

    [...] TinTin Discovers Edward Said (via) [...]

  • 7 Seth // Mar 15, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Love this. You might enjoy http://tintintravels.tumblr.com/ where this guy got a fancy fellowship to travel around to various Tintin locales and write about Tintin as an orientalist text. Some really great entries.

  • 8 Kevin Moore // Mar 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks, Seth. That looks like a great tumblr to follow. Will do.

  • 9 shivangi gupta // Mar 16, 2013 at 12:27 am

    this is absolutely brilliant! Its about time tintin read Said :)

  • 10 jorge llanque // Mar 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    seguramente dijo: Por Ala y Dios que me hicieron hacer.

  • 11 Tintin’s existential crisis « Snippets of random // Mar 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    [...] My son was watching The Adventures of TinTin, an early 90s animated adaptation of Hergé’s classic comic books, and it inspired the above entry in my sketchbook. The series is faithful to the look and style of the comics, the character design, the stories and, more unsettling, Hergé’s unapologetic racism and imperialist condescension. If anything, putting his stereotypes into motion and giving them buffoonish voices only makes them worse. Seriously, it’s mind-boggling…I thought TinTin would have a horrible epiphany should he ever come across the book. [link] [...]

  • 12 Les post-coloniaux sont déjà dépassés // Mar 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    C’est tellement facile le “Hergé sale raciste” ; dans ce cas-là : “les Antiques sales polythéistes”, “les Médiévaux : bandes de sanguinaires” et “les Modernes, des misogynes”.
    On peut le faire avec n’importe qui, n’importe où, n’importe quand et sur n’importe quoi.

    Il faudrait se rappeler du contexte : si Hergé était raciste, tout le reste de la population l’était aussi – sauf exceptions.
    Comme aujourd’hui les musulmans croient en Dieu, les Français en l’énergie nucléaire et les Américains en les armes à feu : on a possiblement tous tort ; pour autant, ce n’est pas avec des catégories de l’an 2060 qu’il faudra nous juger, mais avec celles d’aujourd’hui. Comme on ne peut pas juger une BD des années 1930 à partir d’un bouquin de 1978.

  • 13 Kevin Moore // Mar 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    I get your point. But the Orientalism of Hergé’s work persists not only in the books we still read today, but in the cartoons and movies made of it; and in the stereotypes that abound in literature and media representations, fictional and non-fictional we see today. These things are worthy of criticism or at least a little mockery.