Pop Culture

Bookstore moves ‘Tintin’ out of kids’ section

“Tintin in the Congo,” an illustrated work removed from the children’s section of Borders Group, Inc., stores in Britain because of allegations of racism, will receive similar treatment by the superstore chain in the United States.

“Borders is committed to carrying a wide range of materials and supporting our customers’ right to choose what to read and what to buy. That said, we also are also committed to acting responsibly as a retailer and with sensitivity to all of the communities we serve,” according to a Borders statement issued Monday.

“Therefore, with respect to the specific title ‘Tintin in the Congo,’ which could be considered offensive by some of our customers, we have decided to place this title in a section of our store intended primarily for adults — the graphic novels section. We believe adults have the capacity to evaluate this work within historical context and make their own decision whether to read it or not.

“Other ‘Tintin’ titles will remain in the children’s section.”

David Enright, a London-based human-rights lawyer, was shopping recently at Borders with his family when he came upon the book, first published in 1931, and opened it to find what he characterized as racist abuse.

“The material suggests to (children) that Africans are subhuman, that they are imbeciles, that they’re half savage,” Enright told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

In Britain, the book also will be stocked with graphic novels.

Ann Binkley, a spokeswoman for Borders in the U.S., said no complaints have been received in this country. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is publishing the book in the U.S. in September, one of many “Tintin” works being reissued to mark the centennial of author-cartoonist Herge, the pen name of Georges Remi.

“This particular title, one of three originally unpublished in the U.S., may be considered somewhat controversial, as it reflects the colonial attitudes of the time it was created,” reads a statement on Little Brown’s Web site.

“Herge depicts African people according to the stereotypes of the time period, but in this edition it will be contextualized for the reader in an explanatory preface.”

The book is the second in a series of 23 tracing the adventures of Tintin, an intrepid reporter, and his dog, Snowy. The series has sold 220 million copies worldwide and been translated in 77 languages.

But “Tintin in the Congo” has been widely criticized as racist by fans and critics alike.

In it, Remi depicts the white hero’s adventures in the Congo against the backdrop of an idiotic, chimpanzee-like native population that eventually comes to worship Tintin — and his dog — as gods.

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Remi later said he was embarrassed by the book, and some editions have had the more objectionable content removed. When an unexpurgated edition was brought out in Britain in 2005, it came wrapped with a warning and was written with a forward explaining the work’s colonial context.

Africa was hardly the only part of the world portrayed in stereotypes by Remi. “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets” was a rough take on Communist society, while “Tintin in America” was equally critical of capitalism in the U.S.

Remi, a native of Belgium, died in 1983. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson each plan to direct at least one film in a series of three movies based on the “Tintin” adventures.

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