Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Tintin is gone gone

August 19, 2009 |  2:04 pm

Tintin We're all against censorship of books in this country, right? Especially by libraries. Sexual content, unpopular viewpoints, even true stories of male penguins who partner to raise a chick.

But the New York Times today reports on the decision of the Brooklyn Public Library to relegate one of the books in the cartoon-adventure Tintin series to its back room where it is kept unavailable to the public, even upon request. Some library patrons have objected to "Tintin au Congo," first published 69 years ago, feeling that it depicts Africans as mentally simple and physically like monkeys. Those who find the book offensive might have found an ally in author and Belgian cartoonist Herge, who died in 1983 but in his later years said he regretted this early work and that he had been overly influenced by an editor who wanted to depict the glories of colonialism.

So like many a public figure, Tintin, who will make a modern-day appearance in a forthcoming Steven Spielberg movie, continues to be haunted by his past. The question is how to view that earlier work now. Is it truly offensive, and if so, should it be hidden away or available as a relic of another day, another way of thinking?

Photo: A tourist takes a picture of Tintin at a 2006 exhibit in France. Credit: Jacques Demarthon / AFP / Getty Images 

-- Karin Klein

Comments ()