A few summers ago Adam and I were in Paris and I bought Tintin au Congo. It's fun looking for the differences between the original and updated versions. Check out this link for a re-drawing of the original.
The original cartoon says, "My dear friends, today I'm going to talk to you about your native land, Belgium."
And in the "more politically correct" rewriting, "We're going to start with some addition exercises. Who can tell me what 2 + 2 equals?...No one...Come on, 2+2? 2+2 equals...?"
Really the rewrite isn't much better.
I asked Mama Youyou yesterday to tell me what she thought of Tintin. Pretending like I didn't know the word for "racist" in French, (it's raciste, ha!) I tried to lead her into telling me how horrible Tintin is.
"So Mama Youyou, what do you think of Tintin. He's so...hmm, what's the word?"
She guesses, "colonialiste?"
"No, not really. You know, how he's so mean about Congolese people..."
She says, "Européen?"
"No Mama Youyou, work with me here! They even tried to ban Tintin au Congo in Belgium!"
Her final guess for the word I'm looking for is, "blanc!?"
So Mama Youyou wasn't the best person to rile up over Tintin. I tried the progressive, activist French tutor, Tchic.
"Tchic, surely you think Tintin's racist."
"Ha, yeah he's funny. Read me some of the controversial pages."
"Well, that's about every page, but I'll find a few."
I start reading to him and he giggles, then chuckles, then is actually holding his stomach about to fall off the chair. Especially over the closing page. Check out the image here.
In the upper left corner there's a Congolese man kneeling to alters of Tintin and his dog Milou.
Of course, Tintin's incredibly offensive and racist. But as most Congolese I've talked to say, he's part of their history. Sure, he's stupid. He's colonialist. He's European. And really not much more than a funny-looking Belgian boy.