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Tintin and alcohol

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Mark Falconer
Member
#1 · Posted: 30 May 2007 07:28 · Edited by: Mark Falconer
In "The Crab with the Golden Claws" Tintin assures the Lieutenant that he never touches alcohol. This seems to be corroborated in "The Shooting Star" where he orders tonic water and "The Red Sea Sharks" where he orders ginger beer. However, in "The Black Island", while in the inn, you can clearly see him with a mug of beer in his hand, the content of which almost imperceptibly lowers through a few frames - and though he doesn't drink it then, he mentions in "The Red Sea Sharks" that he always carries a flask of rum, for emergencies. Not to mention the episode in "Tintin and the Picaros" where our friend unsuccessfully attempts to drink a bottle of Loch Lomond (and earlier in the book where he tastes some for the captain).

So, what do you think? Is Tintin teetotal or not?
tuhatkauno
Member
#2 · Posted: 30 May 2007 08:07
hi marc

I have thought of the same thing, what is Tintin's attitude to alcohol. He refuses to drink in Claws, 33, and in Picaros, 1. But , as we well know, he occasionally takes a swing or two. I think Tintin's attitude towards the whole life is healthy and prudent, and his behaviour is not conflicting. Alcohol means him nothing, he makes on fuss about it. When he refuses to drink, he does it just like that. He can live his life with or without alcohol and in Claws/Picaros he just says :"No thanks, it is not my thing" :)
Mark Falconer
Member
#3 · Posted: 30 May 2007 09:37
Although (forgot about this one) Tintin drinks himself drunk in The Broken Ear (p. 21)...seems to have no compunctions -- though he is about to die...
Balthazar
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 30 May 2007 09:55 · Edited by: Balthazar
I think (though this is from memory at the moment) that in the UK edition at least, Tintin tells the lieutenant that he never touches spirits, rather than alcohol in general.

Beer is obviously not as strong as spirits, and Tintin seems happy to have an occasional glass of beer, such as in the Black Island example you give, or earlier in The Crab when he joins the Thompsons for a drink. I know that plenty of hard drinkers get very drunk on beer alone, but I don't think beer would have the same "demon drink" connotations to moralistic Belgian readers as the whisky and rum that Captain Haddock is addicted to.

Historically, beer was often weaker than many brands are today. In the days before clean tap water, ale was much safer than water, and was the common thing to drink with a meal, without it really being considered a drink you'd get drunk on. Obviously, that's going back before Tintin's time, but I think it partly explains beer's place culturally. So, even in the rather moralistic atmosphere of 1930s and 40s Belgium, a young lad like Tintin having a single glass of beer probably wouldn't be regarded as proper "drinking". That's my theory, anyway.

As for the flask he carries for emergencies, I'd guess that officially that means an emergency where you'd have to rub it on someone suffering from hypothermia, and unofficially it means an emergency where you need to kickstart Captain Haddock out of a spell of defeatism. In either case, I don't think Tintin's ever planning to drink any himself.

And the whisky-drinking episode in Picaros is very much a one-off - something he has to try to do to not offend his Arumbay hosts. The fact that he's dreading it (even before the effects of Calculus's anti-alcohol drug are felt) emphasises how much he dislikes spirits, so the episode doesn't really contradict his anti-spirits position in the rest of the books.

Sadly though, the fact that he's taken Calculus's medicine presumeably means he'll never be able to enjoy a glass of beer in a Brussels café or British pub again. So you could say that he finally becomes strictly teetotal in this last completed adventure, even though he wasn't throughout the earlier books.

Edit: Just read your last post, Mark, which you posted while I was typing the above. I'd forgotten about that bit in The Broken Ear too. I guess that has to count as a serious lapse in his normal standards, though - as you say - facing execution somewhat excuses this! And interestingly, getting drunk is seen to benifit him (his drunken shouting is mistaken for bravery by Alcazar's advisor, and he's made a colonel), in contrast to Haddock's drunkenness in later books, which is nearly always seen to have bad consequences.
mondrian
Member
#5 · Posted: 30 May 2007 10:36
Tintin would surely be a great drinking buddy, always cheerful & singing. No bouts of depression or aggression unlike Haddock. Though he gets drunk rather easily (from fumes of wine in Black Gold).

On a serious note, I´m with tuhatkauno and Balthazar on this one. Tintin has a very healthy lifestyle, but as alcohol has such a big role in western culture he´ll end up having a drink every now and then (like in Crab when Dupondts buy him a beer, or in Black Island. You just don´t drink milk in a pub).

As always, it´s not exactly clear what did Hergé want and what did the audience want. Does anybody know if the public and/or the publisher put any pressure on Hergé to make Tintin a teetotal? For example how did the audience react to Tintin & Milou getting drunk in Soviets (p. 120-121)?
tintinspartan
Member
#6 · Posted: 30 May 2007 11:01
Well, talking to the same subject, i think Tintin has a bit of Captain Haddock in him. I know Tintin got himself drunk once but I'm not sure why Tintin drank beer but if i'm sure, it could be root beer and the tonic in Shooting Star is only a non-alcoholic drink that is sometimes carbonated. If you take REDBULL for example, it's tonic and could never cause the 'drunk feeling' as there's no alcohol. I believe i did drank tonic once.
Balthazar
Moderator
#7 · Posted: 30 May 2007 11:27 · Edited by: Balthazar
mondrian
Does anybody know if the public and/or the publisher put any pressure on Hergé to make Tintin a teetotal?
Hergé's US publisher certainly asked him to cut down scenes where Haddock is seen drinking, and I know that Hergé redrew some panels in The Crab that previously showed him swigging from the bottle. (This request seems kind of illogical, since you'd have thought that seeing Haddock drinking and its consequenses would actually help discourage children from drinking.)

But, in answer to your question, I don't know whether anyone ever pressured Hergé with regard to Tintin's occasional beer or occasional accidental drunkenness. Maybe not in Belgium and France. Generally, although Catholic authorities tend to be pretty moralistic about sex, I think they're traditionally more tolerant about alcohol and moderate drunkenness. Teetotalism is more of a protestant tradition, in the UK at least (and in the US, I think), with movements such as the Methodists and the Salvation Army being particularly anti-alcohol.

Something else which occurs to me is that Tintin tends to generally have more of a naughty/worldly/cocky/occasionally drunken side to him in the pre-Haddock books. Once Haddock is established, and takes on the role of the lovable flawed character, Tintin seems to become more and more squeaky clean, responsible and even priggish at times. (A similar thing happened to Mickey Mouse after Donald Duck became established as his flawed sidekick.)

At least one biography I've read suggests that Hergé (who liked a drink) began to identify more and more with Haddock and less and less with Tintin, somewhat falling out of love with the central character of his creation.
waveofplague
Member
#8 · Posted: 30 May 2007 12:16
Somebody mentioned ginger beer, from Red Sea Sharks, I believe. I always looked upon ginger beer as being non-alcoholic. Truhfully, I don't know what ginger beer is, but it sounds similar to root beer, in that it may be "beer" in name, but only in name.

Regarding the overall attitude of the audience toward alcohol.... Europe has, in my mind, always been less uptight about it than America has. We had Prohibition in the '20s; do you think that would fly anywhere in Europe? Nope! Alcohol consumption is much more "mainstream" over there, generally, from what I can tell. You'd get in serious trouble over here if you gave a 20-year-old a drink. In Germany, the same 20-year-old could have had 100 drinks by the age of 16 or 17.

Anyway, to get to the point, I guess alcohol is somewhat peripheral to Tintin, and everyone figures if he gets drunk, what the hell, no big deal.

Sorry if this made only partial sense; it's 7am and I'm half-asleep. OK, back to work.
tuhatkauno
Member
#9 · Posted: 30 May 2007 12:30 · Edited by: tuhatkauno
We had Prohibition in the '20s; do you think that would fly anywhere in Europe?

We had it too in Finland. It started 1919 and ended 5 th April 1932 at 10 o'clock.
waveofplague
Member
#10 · Posted: 30 May 2007 12:48
Wow, guano, how do you suppose all those Finnish people survived without their Finlandia, Absolut, and assorted Russian vodkas!?

Upon further review, having consulted wikipedia, ginger beer does appear to be an alcoholic beverage. But I'll have nothing to do with it, as I can't STAND ginger AT ALL. But I think I did sample some gingerbeer in Australia. Good old Bundaberg.

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