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The Shooting Star: the depiction of Bohlwinkel

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sliat_1981
Member
#11 · Posted: 5 Jun 2007 11:16
I don't think it's anti-sematic just to have a Jewish person as a villians. There are evil Jewish people in this world. I just think that it was just bad timing. If he had had a Jewish villian earlier, it probably wouldnt have been so controversal.
My point to the topic was that the changes weren't really significant enough to fool us that he was South American. He always did and always will be a Jew.
Balthazar
Moderator
#12 · Posted: 5 Jun 2007 11:54 · Edited by: Balthazar
jock123
...it was the cartoonist’s short-hand of the day.

I understand your point, jock, and if we were talking about the stereotypical facial features of the Jewish people portrayed in some other Tintin books (the Zionist gang members in the original versions of Black Gold for instance), I think you'd be right that these could be put down to cartoonist's shorthand of the time - a bit offensive now, but commonly acceptable at the time.

However, I think the portrayal of Bohlwinkel goes beyond being just a bit of dated cartoonist's shorthand. It's not just that his features look exactly like the Jewish capatalist bogey-man of Nazi propoganda posters of the time; his actions and his role in the story also seem to come directly from the same Nazi propoganda machine. He's not only an archetypal hook-nosed, fleshy-lipped Jew; he's an archetypal hook-nosed, fleshy-lipped Jewish banker skulking behind the scenes in his office, the hidden power behind an international network of influence and agents which he uses to attempt to thwart and sabotage the honest, decent efforts of "Aryan" scientific progress for his own financial gain. That's not cartoonist's shorthand - that's a core belief of Naziism.

When Tintin analysts talk about Hergé's pre-war anti-Nazi book, King Ottokar's Sceptre, they don't say that Hergé just happened to name the Bordurian leader Mussler, and just happened to give the Bordurian airforce Messerschmitt 109s (or Heinkels in the black and white original). They quite rightly point to the fact that Mussler's name is clearly a mix of Mussolini and Hitler, and that the planes are clearly supplied by Nazi Germany, and that this suggests that Hergé deliberately intended Borduria's attempted annexation of Syldavia to be symbolic of the real-world behaviour of Nazi Germany.

But when it comes to The Shooting Star some of these same Tintin analysts claim that the fact that the baddie's name is Jewish and the fact that Tintin's expedition plane is supplied by Nazi Germany is somehow random or accidental - a bit unfortunate, but not significant.

I suppose it's possible that Hergé was thinking about what he was doing when writing King Otttokar's Sceptre, and not thinking about what he was doing when writing The Shooting Star, but surely that's trying to have it both ways. If the baddie leader's name and details such as aircraft makes were deliberately chosen and politically significant in King Otttokar's Sceptre, then surely it's logical to conclude that the baddie leader's name and details such as aircraft makes were also deliberately chosen and also politically significant in The Shooting Star.

I'm not saying that Hergé should be condemned as a Nazi sympathiser on the basis of this one book - it's quite untypical of his output generally, and was clearly written and drawn in a time of great pressure and fear. And he might have been influenced by prevalent beliefs and stereotypes of the time without being fully aware of it. And I'm not saying The Shooting Star shouldn't be read and enjoyed now. In other respects, it's a great book, and in these happier times the Jewish conspiracy subtext is irrelevant enough to most reader's beliefs to go unnoticed. But I don't think we should brush under the carpet what Bohlwinkel was meant to represent at the time.

Re the TV programmes you mention, jock, I don't think Love Thy Neighbour can be likened to Father Ted. Love Thy Neighbour was a lazily written show peddling unfounded stereotypes and beliefs (that were offensive to many people even at the time). Father Ted, however, was a sharply satrirical Irish production, written by Irishmen who were mocking aspects of their own country's culture that were long overdue for attack - offensive to some church authorities, no doubt, but not to Irish people per se. I think Hergé's portrayal of Bohlwinkel is more like Love thy Neighbour - a lazy ill-informed jibe at a stereotype from a persecuted minority group - whereas Hergé's prortrayal of Jolyon Wagg is more like Father Ted - a well-observed jibe at an archetype from his own culture.
harishankar
Member
#13 · Posted: 6 Jun 2007 16:23
Mates, when I first read the book, I had no ideas of the political connotations. I don't read too much into TIntin, even after knowing the political connotations.

It's a fun book to read and that's all that matters to me.
Andrew
Member
#14 · Posted: 31 May 2011 19:00
Bohlwinkel was a character who could have made a re-appearance, but we only saw once. Maybe he spent longer in prison than Allan, Dr Muller, etc?
Briony Coote
Member
#15 · Posted: 2 Nov 2011 12:06
I never thought of Bohlwinkel as a Jew, just a typical ugly caricatured villain.
Tintinrulz
Member
#16 · Posted: 3 Nov 2011 01:47
I never thought of him as a Jewish man either. While there are some legitimate examples of racism in the Tintin albums (although they really are few and far between) I think some people read racism into everything because they can and they get some weird pleasure out of it.
jock123
Moderator
#17 · Posted: 3 Nov 2011 10:03
Tintinrulz:
I think some people read racism into everything because they can and they get some weird pleasure out of it.

That’s a view, but not one which was unfortunately viable at a time when such images were synonymous with the most virulent forms of antisemitism, and the Nazis’ campaign against the Jews leading to the extermination camps.

Those pictures of Hergé’s are caricatures of Jews, undoubtedly - they have all the visual cues which a reader of the time would associate with some Jewish names, and appear as such in several books. It isn’t to say that Hergé was actively antisemitic, but he was unfortunately casually antisemitic, passively so, as were so many people of the time.

All of Hergé’s figures are to some extent caricatures, granted: Americans are American stereotypes, Sotsmen are Scottish caricatures, etc. But Jewish caricatures and black stereotypes are politically charged as well, because they went hand in hand with humiliation and subjugation of those peoples.

I take it from your remarks that you yourself have never been the victim of racism, sectarianism or other kinds of bigotry propagated through vicious caricature? Thankfully neither have I, but I can certainly feel empathy for anyone who has, not just dismiss it.

To suggest that reading insult into a picture when it is in fact insulting, as deriving “weird pleasure” is a luxury afforded only to those who have not been its victims.
Tintinrulz
Member
#18 · Posted: 3 Nov 2011 14:30
No, I don't like racism either but I'm sick of people finding something racist in everything these days. Political correctness unchecked is just madness! For goodness sakes - cartoons exaggerate facial features etc. for humorous reasons or because that's the nature of the business. I can understand why people think the African people aren't respected in the Congo but not necessarily in the way they look. The truth is that African people have much larger lips than white people. Treating them like slaves and depicting them as having the intelligence of monkeys is what's unacceptable.

As for Jewish people, I don't even know where the hooked nose look even began. There are countless people without hooked noses, people who are Jewish and there are people with hooked noses who aren't Jewish. It's all a little ridiculous to get up in arms about such things. I'm not pointing fingers at you or anyone else here but there are ninnies on the Internet and in real life who take the racism thing too far and play that card when they feel they're entitled to something, even though no one owes them anything. Do you understand what I'm saying?
jock123
Moderator
#19 · Posted: 3 Nov 2011 18:09
Tintinrulz:
I'm sick of people finding something racist in everything these days.

But we’re not dealing with “everything” - we’re dealing with a particular set of images…

It’s also hard to see how it’s to be dealt with, if on the one hand you are against it, but are against the subject being raised because it sickens you – I’m not sure how the two should be reconciled. It seems easier to let us who aren’t being afflicted by the problem bear a little, trivial, discomfort, than have one person be the victim of it, yet let it go unpunished, no?

Tintinrulz:
For goodness sakes - cartoons exaggerate facial features etc. for humorous reasons or because that's the nature of the business.

No. Not so. It’s not a cut and dried matter - cartoons have most certainly been used to propagate all sorts of ideas and ideologies, from humorous to hateful. Because you don’t recognize it, or know about, doesn’t make it not true.

Tintinrulz:
I can understand why people think the African people aren't respected in the Congo but not necessarily in the way they look.

The Congolese who feel they have been slighted choose to disagree with you on that one.

Tintinrulz:
The truth is that African people have much larger lips than white people.

A generalization which just doesn’t stand up, certainly not as a defence. Nobody feels good if they are depicted in a demeaning way - you might be thin or fat for all I know, but to have you depicted as overly skeletal, or grossly fat might be very upsetting to you - but you wouldn’t think that me saying, “Oh, but you are fat (or thin, or whatever), so I don’t care how you feel…”

The examples of what you say they are doing are unfair - but that doesn’t make the graphics less of a problem.

Tintinrulz:
As for Jewish people, I don't even know where the hooked nose look even began.

Then it might be that you need to look into it, not dismiss it - it is stereotype of antisemitic drawings going back to the middle ages.

Tintinrulz:
It's all a little ridiculous to get up in arms about such things.

And thus you dismiss the Holocaust - because the people of Belgium would have been seeing images similar to these on posters, in newspaper cartoons and amongst all the other anti-Jewish propaganda being circulated by the occupying Germans at the time, and used to get people to denounce Jews so that they could be transported to the death camps. That’s why people get “up in arms about it”… Seems fair, to me…

Tintinrulz:
I'm not pointing fingers at you or anyone else here but there are ninnies on the Internet and in real life who take the racism thing too far

Racism is taking things too far too, and of the two, it’s the worse.

Tintinrulz:
play that card when they feel they're entitled to something, even though no one owes them anything.

And it’s that sort of generalization that lets problems arise - pointing a finger at a group and vaguely accusing them of unspecified wrong just feeds the fire.

Tintinrulz:
Do you understand what I'm saying?

No, frankly, I’m at a loss, it just doesn’t resonate with me at all. Personally, I’d rather that twenty people got something they didn’t deserve, that that one person was subjected to unwarranted abuse…
Tintinrulz
Member
#20 · Posted: 4 Nov 2011 02:21 · Edited by: Tintinrulz
Jock, I'm against racism and I'm not trying to make enemies with you. I see where you're coming from. Just like anything, cartoons can be used for good or evil purposes. Sometimes it comes more out of ignorance (in Herge's case).

As for Tintin in the Congo, from all of the readings I've done about the book and it's popularity and the banning of the book, I find it's largely white people who have been and are trying to ban the book. It was an immensely popular book in Africa. Obviously they wouldn't have been happy with how they were portrayed but they were overjoyed that Tintin had visited their country. It's only very recently that an African person has come forward to try to ban the book. I don't think we should be pushing young people to read it but outright banning it isn't right either. We shouldn't white-wash our history to make it more palatable.

I don't find the large lips of the Congolenese people in the album to be racist, I seriously don't see how Herge would otherwise draw them. Comparing the natural features and cartoon exaggerations of a culture of people to a person's natural body weight/size is a bit different in my opinion. For example, generally African people have large lips, wide noses and very white teeth. That's not racism, that's a natural observation. White people are a mongrel species so we have a huge variety of different features. If for example the cartoon is mean-spirited, yes, drawing them this way to demean them would be wrong. But if it was done to celebrate people's differences or just to tell a story, with no hidden agenda, then I don't see how that's wrong.

It's a bit rude to say I dismiss the Holocaust. I'm an Australian. I learnt about it in high school but we probably don't study it at the same level you do in Europe. Also, I've never seen any propaganda posters that depict Jewish people like this. I don't have any problem with Jewish people. Your post seems to be assuming to much of me.

Please get this in your head, I'm not for racism. I don't want to see people abused, demeaned etc. in any way. I just think that people can get far too politically correct at times and it doesn't help when we should be discussing the issue sensibly. Proactive, not reactive.

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