It can’t smurfing be!
A new book Le petit livre bleu (The little blue book) claims that the Smurfs, those sarsaparailla-eating little blue denizens of Smurf village who talk about smurfing this and smurfing that, are anti-Semitic and racist. This, on top of earlier claims that, due to their living in a cooperative-like environment where everybody contributes to Smurf society, the Smurfs are communists, “Small Men Under Red Force,” as one American critic says.
The author of the book, Antoine Buéno, a lecturer at Sciences Po university in Paris, says in the Guardian that he’s been surprised at the “hyper violent” reaction to his claims among Smurf fans, some of whom have said he has “paranoid delusions” and is a “dream breaker.” Some more unhappy Smurf devotee critique via the Telegraph:
“What a disgrace to soil the legends of our childhood,” wrote Bibouille on the “Schtroumpfmania” website.
Another, called Anastasia wrote: “It’s not hard to find anti-Semitism in Shakespeare or Balzac.” The author’s arguments spring “from his own obsessions … the hooked nose of a wizard is neither Jewish nor Goy, it’s a traditional for wizards,” she wrote.
Buéno has indeed said he has “feared for his physical safety and insisted he meant no harm,” according to the Telegraph.
So what’s causing the big smurf-roar?
Belgian artist Peyo, whose real name was Thierry Culliford, created the Smurfs in 1958. Since their original appearance in comics, there have been animated films, a TV series, all manner of merchandise, theme parks, video games, an Ice Capades show; Sony is to release the first of three live-action/computer generated Smurf films on July 29. Buéno’s critique starts with Peyo’s very first work which was title The Black Smurfs in French and retitled The Purple Smurfs in English on the grounds of political correctness:
In the story, a Smurf gets stung by a black fly that turns his skin jet black, drives him insane and deprives him of speech. Soon the entire village has changed colour.
Mr Buéno said the story was clearly racist, as when the Smurfs turn black, “they are reduced to the state of primitives who get around by jumping and crying: ‘Gnap! Gnap!’”
“They lose all trace of intelligence and become completely moronic,” said Mr Buéno, also a speech writer for François Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Modem party.
“It’s roughly the way Africans were viewed by white colonisers in the 19th century.”
Mr Buéno also contends that The Smurfs’ arch-enemy, the wizard Gargamel, comes across as a classic anti-Semitic caricature of a money-grabbing Jew, the book claims. “Gargamel is ugly, dirty, with a hooked nose (who) is fascinated by gold”.
Culliford’s son Thierry Culliford has said in the French paper L’Express that his father “absolutely was not interested in politics” and that Buéno’s book is “situated between the grotesque and the not very serious.”
To some degree, I’m wondering at all the outcries about Buéno’s book. Academics, and people and general, are forever analyzing children’s literature and shows and toys for their “subliminal” messages. Many have, for instance, criticized the PBS show Teletubbies for its fascist overtones (the Teletubbies all go running dutifully to hear whatever a huge microphone that comes out of the ground commands), not to mention for the big purple Teletubby Tinky-Winky being (said some) gay (his ”favorite thing” is a red purse). I won’t even get started about some of the weird undertones about the shows with another large purple character, Barney.
Should we just let children’s shows and books be, or is it helpful to take heed about their “deeper messages”?
Though now that you mention it, what was going on with the Peanuts’ character Marcie calling Peppermint Patty “Sir”?
Below is a video showing Gargamel and the Smurfs.
Photo by It's Meng!.
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