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Tintin: his sexuality

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William
Member
#101 · Posted: 12 Jan 2009 20:31 · Edited by: William
Here's a direct link to Matthew Parris's article in The Times and this is a letter I wrote in response which they published.
They edited my letter a little, reduced my introduction in which I said how I was always much more of a Tintin than Asterix fan to that one sentence.

Moderator Note:
Since the above post was made The Times newspaper has moved its content to a paid subscription basis, breaking the links, which have now been removed.

The Happy Tintinologist Team
Amilah
Member
#102 · Posted: 12 Jan 2009 22:21
I don't understand. If tintin was gay, wouldn't he have MANY more female friends ?
William
Member
#103 · Posted: 13 Jan 2009 00:15
NikkiRoux:
I've always assumed that Tintin was hardly more than a boy.

I'd have always thought that Tintin was roughly somewhere between 19 and 28, and probably in the middle of that range, based on the fact that he is obviously a young man, but if was 16, as some people think, I doubt he could really do a lot of the things he did. He doesnt seem to me to be drawn as a teenager, whereas Chang does look around 15. One of Matthew Parris's first points was that there's no mention of Tintin's parents. That would be relevant if he was 16, but not if he's in his mid-twenties. Think of the way he interacts with people, that he has his own apartment in the early books, the fact that he does move into Marlinspike, that when he runs onto some plane or train or stops someone looking for crucial information, they don't just laugh and say, "Well, arent you some precocious teenager?" (even if he is occasionally remarked on for his age, but even at 25 I could see someone making such a remark), that Alcazar took him on as aide-de-camp, etc. suggests that he's not in his teens. I still think he's a little older than me, and I'm 22.

Anyway, I'm veering off-topic. I do think Tintin could well be gay, but I don't particularly want to get into a discussion about it because of the vitriol from those who strongly think that he's not. I seriously doubt that if someone wrote on the forum that the relationship between Tintin and some girl, if there was one, was romantic, that there would be such a reaction against the suggestion. There'd be a quiet agreement or dismissal of the argument. Tintin isn't just a cartoon character, as some comic strips are, there's a little more depth than that. About the level of a John Buchan story or James Bond, nothing too deep, but still a character we know a bit about. There's no reason to think that Tintin would lack the hormones of someone his age.

Years ago, I suggested a poll on the now sadly defunct web site www.tintin.qc.ca, but it's now archived at http://www.free-tintin.net/english/election.htm, asking which of the children in the series had the greatest effect, Coco, Chang, Zorrino or Abdullah. Bit of an obvious question really, I have a vague memory of having trouble phrasing it ("added most" might have been better). I was concious though, given that the four were boys (tho Abdullah can't really count in this way), that it could possibly be seen with gay overtones. I didn't want to raise controversy, but I did think it a relevant question to the series as a whole, even with an obvious answer.

Maybe some of it comes down to what age people think he is. If they think he's in his teens, it might seem strange that there'd be a suggestion that he's gay, but it's less of an issue if he's older.

Suppose JK Rowling hadnt mentioned that Dumbledore was gay, and someone said it of him, I'm sure that there would have been the same reaction from some of above in this thread, to say things like "What does it matter?", "It's a children's book" etc. It ultimately doesnt matter in the judgemental sense, but it is part of their character, so without being prurient, I do find it interesting to wonder, and I think it adds an extra dimension. It's not just with children's books, there's a similar type of reaction from some on this page speculating on whether US President James Buchanan was gay, which I think he was: http://tompaine.com/Archive/scontent/2458.html. Someone there likens the kneejerk reaction to the attitude of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which is a good way of putting it.
danberenson
Member
#104 · Posted: 13 Jan 2009 00:25
I've always seen him as gay (because I am) and yet I've always seen him at protestant (which I am not). It doesn't matter or exist, as like any literary character we readers get to imbue him with whatever we want to. It's to Herge's credit that he has created a world wherein none are either limited to, or restricted from anything. Tintin and the rest of the Tintin world are as open to speculation (to sexual orientation, political affiliation, other motivations) as we want them to be.
separtedTINTIN
Member
#105 · Posted: 14 Jan 2009 10:44
Please don't relate Tintin with this bogus topic. If Herge was here, he would have been insulted to see the conditions of Tintin topics you are discussing like this. If Herge was here, I would ask apologies to him, for you all.
Amilah
Member
#106 · Posted: 14 Jan 2009 13:53 · Edited by: Amilah
Well, I'm of the "doesn't matter" school, and I'm not certain it's a knee-jerk reaction (or if it is, second thoughts don't contradict it much).

I tend to have the same reaction to people's sexuality, I'm not extremely interested in what happens in their trousers. "You know what, he is gay" sounds a bit similar to "you know what, he is Jewish" to my ears - it makes me wonder why it should be relevant, and to what, to the eyes of the person who triumphantly conveys the info.

I believe by default that Tintin is heterosexual(ly asexual), because fiction a domain where I gladly accept Occam/ Akham's razor to cut out what the author didn't specifically hint at. Hetero was default, I doubt Hergé had the intention to make Tintin particularly homo. That said, Tintin is hardly more than a smiley (as I claimed elsewhere, comparing him to his more defined, fleshed-out and ultimately likeable companions).

He's, like most comics heroes of that era, some Rorschach blot, allowing anyone to project his/her identity onto him - hence his huge success from leftists to Nazis, and the distrust that it sometimes leads to.

So, projecting one's homosexuality on Tintin's undefined sexuality is as legitimate as projecting one's own voice. Tintin is a blank piece of paper. I just believe that in our current culture (and in particular in that of Hergé), blank papers are heterosexual, white, Christian and male, before you start drawing on them. And the unpainted bits tend to remain so.

That said, I disagree a bit with :

William:
There's no reason to think that Tintin would lack the hormones of someone his age.

as I think there's no specific reason to believe in hormones in the universe of old French/ Belgian comics. Puritanism excluded boy/girl matters from these books, generally producing worlds where girls were rare (blank page default=male), and characters de-sexualized.

Means, intercourses, hormones, procreation, women, didn't exist in that universe (unless some Gargamel builds up a Smurfette). All these questions about Tintin or Spirou's sexuality seem out of place, to my eyes.

Their world is not exactly ours, it's more similar to the world of childhood and all the things that just didn't exist yet. So these questions always seem to me to be bringing "outside questions" into their universes ("How does Spirou earns his living?"; "How many taxes does Tintin pay?"; "How long is Calculus's wang?"). Which is an adult pass-time I'm not too much a fan of.

To my eyes, wondering about Tintin's sexuality makes as much sense as wondering why Wile E. Coyote wants that particular Road Runner so much, and where that Road Runner is going.

________
Edit (some sort of double post):

William:
I do think Tintin could well be gay, but I don't particularly want to get into a discussion about it because of the vitriol from those who strongly think that he's not.

Actually, I think that any discussion subject that makes homophobes hysteric is awesome by definition. So this would rather be an argument against what I've typed above.

Also, just found this in the Sadoul book. They're talking about the lack of women in Tintin books. Numa Sadoul asks if it could be due to some latent homosexuality in Hergé himself. Hergé answers :

"I don't know. One never knows, does one? But I don't think so. If I had homosexual tendencies, I don't see why I'd hide them."

Hardly the answer of someone who'd feel "insulted" by the question, right? And even less, I suppose, if asked about his characters. I think the answer can be applied to Tintin pretty directly (except that, in Tintin's context of publication, one could see why he'd hide it).
Chuckles_Merrily
Member
#107 · Posted: 4 Feb 2009 09:13
It's strange how Tintin has no actual age but has always been portrayed as a Young man or sometimes young boy. I always thought of his being 25-28... Old enough to drink and smoke, which of course he does neither but gets offered quite a few times.

Although I find it stupid how people would automatically assume him gay just because he hasn't shown any interest in any women. I don't think Tintin is about that at all, it's about mystery, crime solving, fantasy and friendship and romance has nothing to do with it.

Although I think Tintin would most probably be straight, but he has no sexuality.
Voluma
Member
#108 · Posted: 4 Feb 2009 11:08
I think it would be interesting if he were gay. Isn't it all in how you read it? After all, if you approach Tintin with the idea that he's gay, there's nothing in the comics to stop you thinking that. Then again, if you want to see him as straight, the comics make perfect sense also. There's no evidence either way, so in my opinion it's totally up to the reader.
ilovetintin
Member
#109 · Posted: 28 May 2010 04:05
rastapopoulos:
It has always annoyed me how cartoon characters can be pinned as being effeminate or gay with no evidence to support it

I agree. It's so ridiculous. Why would Tintin be gay?

tybaltstone:
It shouldn't matter whether Tintin is gay or not. He's not, but he's not straight either. He isn't anything.

MoonRocket:
When it comes to deciding a character's sexuality, though, that's just something we can leave up to our imagination, as dumb (at times) as that may be.

I agree both the other people who I have just quoted. And I could quote many more. It's got nothing to do with the story so it doesn't come into it. Besides, why would Hergé make his character gay if he himself was married?

Moderator Note: Your comments aren't really furthering the debate, to be honest, and are coming quite close to flame-baiting or trolling.
Your questions could just as easily be reworded to make the opposite point - e.g. "Why wouldn't Tintin be gay?", because you are giving no evidence (one way or the other) to back up your position, and that is what is needed, rather than working from just opinion.
Your suggestion that Hergé couldn't write a gay character because he was married is flawed - he wrote an Estonian character without being himself Estonian, and a sailor without being a sailor, so even if one rules out that being married is not automatically a barrier to being gay, it certainly isn't an obstacle to an author writing characters outside their own personality.
Rianna Lauren
Member
#110 · Posted: 21 Jun 2010 10:49
Wasn't it confirmed by Hergé's spokesperson or something that Tintin isn't gay? O_o Besides - it doesn't really matter. Romance is one thing that's not meant for Tintin. I'd like it better if he's straight, though, but like I said, it doesn't really matter.

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