Thursday, 12 July 2007

Tintin's Adventures in "Political Correctness Gone Mad"- Land.

by Edwin Hesselthwite

"I understand the view that it shouldn't be on sale to children but the publishers have taken care of that.

"It brings the CRE into disrepute - there are many more serious things for them to worry about." - Anne Widdecombe MP (an MP with a 45% voting record, well below average in The Commons) talks to a Daily Telegraph journalist.

Virtually every news-supplier in the UK (and a few international ones), from the Guardian to the Telegraph to Reuters has picked up the story of a recent confrontation between Borders book supplier and The Commission for Racial Equality, who it appears have asked Borders to remove Hergé's book Tintin in the Congo from their shelves.

I don't know how the CRE functions, or how it is mandated to act on its aims (I'm guessing this comes under "To raise public awareness of racial discrimination and injustice, and to win support for efforts to create a fairer and more equal society."), but asking one of the main book chains to remove a book from their shelves is the first step to pushing it out of publication. The implications of removing a genre classic (it was the second Tintin book, and Tintin along with Asterix defines the mid-20th century Gallic comic) are obvious. The resulting media firestorm (I'm almost scared to Technorati search this issue for the righteous indignation) was both predictable and inevitable. I am therefore completely baffled as to why the CRE have chosen this fight (although actually reading the comic might help me on this), I simply cannot imagine they are incompetent enough not to realise how bad this looks. To my mind this is either the actions of one loose cannon (who is likely to be sacked after this fuck-up) or a Machiavellian plan with a clear agenda against historical-culture racism, in which this is an early salvo... A disturbing thought from a state run organisation.

LMWN has an established view on these issues, and our article on Golden Age Cartoons elaborates at length on the importance of viewing culture in context. The classic example of the movement to remove such material is the Warner Brothers cartoon Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs by Bob Clampett, which has been almost impossible to watch for 40 years (this however was removed from circulation voluntarily by Warner Brothers). Fortunately, since our previous article on the topic a much higher quality version of this disturbing classic has been posted online (and our original version removed)... So it is our proud pleasure to present it here. Please view it in context, and if offended take a look at our previous article which should explain more why it is important.

1 comment:

Quink said...

Yes, I would find any attempts to airbrush historical-culture racism very disturbing indeed.

Anyway, the book has a foreword explaining the context (and that was the edition complained about), and a surely better weapon is the fact Hergé was later embarrassed by some of the attitudes in the book. This sort of row surely damages the CRE's cause unless, as you say, it's an early(ish) salvo in a rather different war.