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In The Blue Lotus, Tintin talks to Chang about various 'silly' stereotypes held by Westerners.

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The story is pretty thoughtful in its representation of Asians.

But in earlier adventures, Herge drew his Asians very differently, like here in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets:

enter image description here

And the original B&W version of Tintin in America has a scene where Snowy is afraid he'll be eaten by some Asian clouts. I've seen that frame once and can find numerous references to it online, but I cannot for the life of me find an image of it online. But either way, Hergé himself once subscribed to those stereotypical notions that he ridicules in a later book.

What gives?

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    See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tintin_in_the_Congo#Racism and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Tintin#Controversy Some of the early works of Hergé are indeed quite objectionable by today's standards, while at the time, especially in his environment, it was just "normal"... Hergé learned from his errors, and later albums have a very different tone in that respect, while early editions were sometimes significantly altered in new editions, at least in terms of artwork.
    – jcaron
    Sep 18, 2023 at 14:34
  • "The campaign against footbinding was successful in some regions; in one province, a 1929 survey showed that, whereas only 2.3% of girls born before 1910 had unbound feet, 95% of those born after were not bound." -"Foot binding", Wikipedia. Noting that the author was born in 1907, it's weird that they'd rank that particular misunderstanding (this is, being a bit out-of-date) along with more wild misconceptions such as broadly characterizing all Chinese people as "cruel".
    – Nat
    Sep 19, 2023 at 3:49
  • Sorry, but this is bothering me -- so, just to explain a viewpoint... At first glance, the newer comic-strip looks to advocate against racism. However, it has a weird pattern -- where it makes some nebulous, subjective characterizations that're harder to fact-check (like calling Chinese people "cruel") along with other fact-checkable characterizations (such as foot-binding an infanticide). But the more fact-checkable characterizations were actually -- however horribly -- not so unfactual. Readers who realize that might see it as an argument for racism. Was that an accident?
    – Nat
    Sep 19, 2023 at 4:45
  • @Nat Do you mean that readers who knew that the Chinese WERE actually practicing foot binding and infanticide were okay to be racist against the Chinese? Or are you asking if Hergé messaged his readers on purpose that racism to Chinese was okay because they practiced foot-binding? Sep 19, 2023 at 7:29
  • @GwenKillerby: The second: I'm asking if the author was advocating for racism because their argument against it sounds sarcastic.
    – Nat
    Sep 19, 2023 at 7:32

1 Answer 1

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Hergé apparently met an art student called Chang Chong-Chen, the same name he gives to the man who saved Tintin in Blue Lotus.

Mark Tweedale at Multiversitycomics.com writes:

Why the change? Well, Hergé met a Chinese student of sculpture, Chang Chong-chen, and the two became friends.

Chang had a profound influence on “The Blue Lotus,” and in fact all the Chinese text in the book was written by Chang. If you can read Mandarin, there’s a whole other level to the book. Chang also taught Hergé about Chinese art, and the influence here is unmistakable.

And

Here Hergé isn’t just talking about ‘many Europeans’; he’s talking about himself, about the way he had thought a mere five years earlier, and it shows his budding sense of responsibility to his readers in the way he portrays the places and peoples Tintin visits.

Chang Chong-Chen poses with a cardboard cutout image of Tin tin. https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/chang-chong-chen-poses-next-to-a-cutout-of-the-character-news-photo/607440530

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    That's great to see how Herge was able to learn and gain a more nuanced perspective on another culture, and even criticise his past self. I wish every racist such a transformation.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 17, 2023 at 19:50
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    He also did it very cleverly in showing how people of both races had stereotyped views of the other, based on a history of conflict; too often we see racist attitudes (how I hate the term) as something unique to white people. Sep 18, 2023 at 6:17
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    Adding to the other answer - Tintin in Africa (Tintin in Congo) became more and more of an embarrassment to Hergé, exacerbated by the lasting success of the album, which I believed remains the best-sold one. In particular, it remains a huge best-seller to this day in central Africa.
    – Deipatrous
    Sep 19, 2023 at 6:20

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