Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Why it's OK to like Tintin and why he isn't a fascist
We are all massively excited about the new Tintin film. It's been a long time coming, but I really hope that it's as good as people are suggesting. Tintin is a marvellous character and a noble role model for young men.
What I like about the stories is the way that Herge matures and improves his sense of humour. The way Captain Haddock changes from a hopeless drunk to be a courageous and loyal friend. I recently read Flight 714 to our youngest son and the layers of meaning are magical, particularly in the unravelling of the back story to Rastapopolus, Tintin's evil nemesis.
Even taking aside the crude racism of the Congo book, which I blogged on back here, and there are some abusive racist names used by Haddock in The Crab With The Golden Claws - which are the utterings of an unreconstructed angry alcoholic - I still compelled to defend Tintin from lazy attitudes that he was "right wing" or even a "fascist". That slur pops up again here in an excellent analysis in The Australian.
But the essential Tintin, forged in wartime, never really changed. For ever young, for ever apolitical, his adoption by Spielberg and Hollywood is final proof of the timeless universality of his appeal as the Peter Pan of the cartoon strip. Remi did not take a stand against an evil ideology. Instead, he worked tirelessly, while the world tore itself apart, to create a character without beliefs who always did the right thing.
That's a delicious way of putting it. Tintin displays virtues of humanity, forgiveness, morality, justice and humility. He lives a relatively modest lifestyle even as the stories unfold and Haddock becomes wealthy. Herge clearly dabbles in mysticism, sci-fi and even vaudeville, but never dark politics.
I am delighted that Tintin has been reclaimed and renewed for the new century. It's been a long time coming.