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The Shooting Star: the depiction of Bohlwinkel

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sliat_1981
Member
#1 · Posted: 28 May 2007 07:44
I have always thought of him as a Jew, even though they tried to put him as South American. He has the nose, the look and the Jewish stereotypes that were popular at the time. There is no way he was Latino. He was Jewish, despite the changes. There was no way he couldn't have been Jewish. The only thing that would suggest he wasn't Jewish was that he wasn't wearing his Yamukle (the company may have had a rule about hats inside).
tuhatkauno
Member
#2 · Posted: 28 May 2007 08:01
I have always thought of him as a Jew, even though they tried to put him as South American. He has the nose, the look and the Jewish stereotypes that were popular at the time. There is no way he was Latino. He was Jewish, despite the changes. There was no way he couldn't have been Jewish. The only thing that would suggest he wasn't Jewish was that he wasn't wearing his Yamukle (the company may have had a rule about hats inside).

And?
sliat_1981
Member
#3 · Posted: 28 May 2007 10:56
And I am pointing out that the changes he made did not change him from being a Jew. Thats your and.
tuhatkauno
Member
#4 · Posted: 28 May 2007 11:03
Ok, I thought you forgot to say something :)
miloumuttmitt
Member
#5 · Posted: 4 Jun 2007 00:48
So he's a Jew. So what? There are Jews in the world, you know.
tintinspartan
Member
#6 · Posted: 4 Jun 2007 06:58
Jews? The Gypsies from Castafiore Emerald could be Jews as well. Jews and Gypsies have connection, you know.
jock123
Moderator
#7 · Posted: 4 Jun 2007 15:51
sliat_1981, you really need to be clearer in what you want to say in your post, as (especially when dealing with a topic like this) you leave yourself wide-open to misinterpretation.

The changes made to this character in the The Shooting Star will always remain controversial, I’m afraid. Hergé apparently felt that he’d defused the issue of the appropriateness of an apparently Jewish villain by altering the name of “Blumenstein” to “Bohlwinkel” (a Brussels term for a sweetshop), and was then distressed to find that the name was also a Jewish surname.

Personally I think he might have been better served to leave the character as Blumenstein, and change the way he’d drawn him. After all, as villains go he is quite isolated from the main action, so it wouldn’t have been a great deal of work to change his frames, and it is the depiction which is questionably stereotypical and potentially anti-Semitic.

One has to accept the possibility that a gangster might be Jewish (Bugsy Siegel was a major mobster), but Hergé probably erred in relying on the more extreme rendition of his seemingly Semitic appearance, even if these were culturally not so charged at the time (as with the Africans in Congo etc.)
BlackIsland
Member
#8 · Posted: 4 Jun 2007 16:10
Also Herge got more sensitive to people and other cultures as he got older. He felt the same way when he ended Prisoners of the Sun the way he did. He was careful in later years to stay away from stereotyping people.
Balthazar
Moderator
#9 · Posted: 4 Jun 2007 16:45 · Edited by: Balthazar
jock123
Hergé probably erred in relying on the more extreme rendition of his seemingly Semitic appearance, even if these were culturally not so charged at the time

Hmm...The stereotype behind his "seemingly" Semitic appearance must have seemed pretty culturally charged to the Brussels Jews who were being rounded up and put into trains and trucks at the time The Shooting Star was first being published.

Big fan of Herge's work though I am, I don't buy the oft-given explanation that Hergé merely used an anti-Semitic stereotype and a Jewish name accidentally. I agree with sliat that he's clearly meant to be an archetypal capatalist Jew - straight from the worst kind of Nazi propoganda - and even with the name-change and nationality-change of the revised version, nothing about it seems accidental. I'm not saying that Hergé was a Nazi-sympathiser by conviction, but everything about this book - a pan-European expedition of Axis-country and "neutral"-country professors using a German seaplane (the Arado 196 was a Nazi military aircraft) to beat a sinister rival American expedition that's backed by a sterotypical Jewish banker with agents all over the world - seems deliberately designed to please Belgium's new masters. The strip must have fitted in very well with the Nazi propoganda of the paper in which it appeared (the "stolen Soir). The argument that the anti-semitic tone of this adventure was merely accidental took a knock recently with the re-publication of a scene from the newspaper version of the strip (cut from the later book) showing Jewish traders celebrating what everyone thinks is the end of the world because they won't have to pay back their creditors. When Hergé was taken to task on these embarrassing frames during his lifetime, his defence was that everyone made jokes about Jews in the early 1940s. Didn't they just.

Of course, Hergé may well have felt he had to go overboard with the Nazi-pleasing, to draw the Nazis' attention away from his anti-Nazi book, King Ottokar's Sceptre, and from his German baddie, Müller, in two other adventures. (The "goodie" Japanese policeman in The Crab may have been a similar bit of backtracking of his anti-Japanese stance of The Blue Lotus, given that Japan was one of Germany's axis partners.)

Which of us can say we'd have behaved with more courage than Hergé did under similar circumstances? I'm not judging Hergé; I'm just saying that I don't think that the argument that the anti-semitism of this book is slight and accidental really stands up to scrutiny.

You're right, jock, that Hergé might have done better to have redrawn the baddie in post-war versions, instead of just tinkering (inneffectively) with his name. But maybe Hergé realised that redrawing him would have been an admission that there was something anti-semitic about the original drawing, and maybe he didin't want to face up to that.
jock123
Moderator
#10 · Posted: 5 Jun 2007 09:43
Balthazar
The stereotype behind his "seemingly" Semitic appearance must have seemed pretty culturally charged to the Brussels Jews who were being rounded up and put into trains and trucks at the time The Shooting Star was first being published.

While I take on board what you say, it’s a bit difficult at this distance to know exactly how charged it would be. I think that the point is that the use of the features of a race and the stereotypes attached could be a slack short-hand, used unthinkingly, rather than pointedly; to make a capitalist villain look Semitic isn’t itself anri-Semitic in terms of the ideas of the Nazi’s for example, any more than the presentation of the stereotypical “Yankee” capitalists in America makes Hergé anti-American, or his Harry Lauder-esque Scotsmen with hook-jaws and tam o’shanter bonnets makes him anti-Scottish - it was the cartoonist’s short-hand of the day. Not to say it wasn’t an error, but an error more than Hergé will have made unconciously.
We operate now with the benefit of hind-sight, and the associations make us uncomfortable, but having lived through a time when Love Thy Neighbour, the Benny Hill Show and even more recently Father Ted were television series which employed the most outrageous stereotypic depictions and behaviour for humour, I think the error isn’t confined to Hergé’s time.

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