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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tintin banned from children's shelves - Isn't this going a bit far !!

The Campaign for Real Education has condemned his publishers as “over the top” for deciding to package one of his early adventures, Tintin in the Congo, in shrink-wrap and with a warning about its content.

Its criticism comes within weeks of the worldwide release of Steven Spielberg’s new film about the boy reporter and his dog Snowy.

George Remi, the Belgian artist better known as Herge, first published his tale of derring-do in Africa in 1930. When he re-worked it in 1946 he removed several references to the Congo being a Belgian colony.

But the book still contained a number of images that were perceived as racist. One of these showed a black woman bowing to Tintin and saying `White man very great…White mister is big juju man`.

Over the decades Herge’s work was excluded from reprints and became synonymous with racism that in 2004 a spokesman for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government responded to criticism by a Belgian foreign minister by saying: “It’s Tintin In The Congo all over again."

Three years later the Commission for Racial Equality claimed the book depicted "hideous racial prejudice" and said it should be removed from sale.

The then Borders chain of bookshops agreed to move it to the adult graphic novels area of its shops, and Waterstones followed suit.

Nick Seaton, secretary of the Campaign for Real Education, is perturbed by the restrictions being placed on the book’s sale in the run-up to the release of the Spielberg film The Adventures of Tintin.

“Most parents will think this is over the top,” he claimed. “As long as children understand times have changed it seems ridiculous to separate this book into the adult section

“Much of children’s literature is extremely graphic and sexually explicit these days and no one seems to bother about that.”

He added: “It is another example of political correctness gone mad. All these silly attempts at censorship do not do a lot of good.

“It is a bit like the restrictions on Kipling because of his old fashioned values. Bookshops have to be responsible about things like this, but it can go too far and this is ridiculous.”

The book’s publisher, Egmont UK, said it recognised that some readers may be offended by the content.

A spokesman said: “This is why we took the unusual step of placing a protective band around the book with a warning about the content and also included an introduction inside the book by the original translators explaining the historical context.

“Whilst being frequently requested by fans and collectors who had seen it available in other languages, the work contains scenes which some readers may find offensive.”

The warning reads: “In his portrayal of the Belgian Congo, the young Hergé reflects the colonial attitudes of the time…

“He depicted the African people according to the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period – an interpretation that some of today’s readers may find offensive.”

A Waterstones spokesman confirmed that the book had been switched to the graphic novels section of its stores four years ago, and that since then its position had not changed.

He added: “This is an old story and we have no further comment”.


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