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But do you pronounce it "Tan Tan"?
January 11, 2009 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Happy Birthday Tintin, whatever your sexuality! (maybe you're just confused)
posted by Artw (79 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
...Huh.

Okay, the furor about whether or not Tintin is gay just reminds me of what the SESAME STREET creators had to say in response to whether Bert and Ernie were gay:

"No, they are not gay -- because they are puppets."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:51 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


I always assumed that, like his chiefly prepubescent audience, he was sort of above sex.

Puppet-like, as it were.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:52 PM on January 11, 2009


I've never really understood the always simmering desire for people to insist that Tintin needed a love interest.

I like Tintin as a kid and kind of still do. A lot of the criticisms seem to be 'plate of beans' territory.
posted by edgeways at 2:55 PM on January 11, 2009


Tintin 80's anniversary: awesome.

Tintin is gay: revisionist nonsense.

Why these two threads had to be mixed together is beyond me.
posted by JHarris at 2:57 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


(kind of like insisting Huck Finn must have been about interracial man-on-boy love)
posted by edgeways at 3:00 PM on January 11, 2009


A reading of Tintin as gay reminds me of all those youtube poops (short, usually unfunny experiments in video editing by teenagers) that force cartoon characters to say "penis" as often as possible.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:05 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


A more interesting essay on Tintin's character and origins is here.
posted by binturong at 3:06 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Economist had a good article about Tintin a few weeks ago.
posted by gaspode at 3:06 PM on January 11, 2009


Tintin, like Asterix, is one of those iconic characters and series that I know all about, am intimately familiar with (at least to the point of knowing them when they come up in crossword puzzles), but have never actually read.
posted by yhbc at 3:06 PM on January 11, 2009


It didn't even come up on preview!
posted by gaspode at 3:07 PM on January 11, 2009


Let's talk about sex...
posted by dawson at 3:08 PM on January 11, 2009


While we're at it, what's the final word on Peppermint Patty?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:12 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


My in-laws got me the collected Tintin for Christmas.

Your envy - I feel it, I enjoy it. It sustains me.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:13 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is tintin gay?
Was Hitler gay?
Was Lincoln gay?
Was Jesus gay?

my, the heterosexual masses sure do fret about who their heros sleep with.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:14 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


So there's a movie coming out?
posted by Corduroy at 3:16 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the Economist article, gaspode. I hadn't really thought much about Tintin since I read the books as a kid. Despite what the article asserts, me and all of my friends here in America had read the books and knew all about him. Perhaps we were just exceptionally culturally literate kids (though somehow I doubt this).
posted by Rangeboy at 3:18 PM on January 11, 2009


So there's a movie coming out?

And I bet it will be rotten.
posted by binturong at 3:19 PM on January 11, 2009


No, they are not gay -- because they are puppets.

Clearly they've never played with puppets.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:22 PM on January 11, 2009


munchingzombie, I think you're missing the point. (Not to mention that "gay" as a category is a modern thing and doesn't really make sense when applied to Jesus, ferchrissakes.)
posted by kenko at 3:26 PM on January 11, 2009


My experience is that people often don't know who Tintin is right away, but a showing them a picture will generally prod something out of them.

Myself, I am pretty addicted, without being too obsessed. Besides Alpha-Art, I have read all of them, plus the book 'Tintin and the Secret of Literature' (kinda revisionist, but fun to read). I have a set of Tintin themed playing cards (which are alright), and a cool Tintin notebook (yes, cool).

But one of my most prized possessions is this shirt is silk-screened for myself.
posted by Corduroy at 3:27 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


And I thought they smelled bad on the OUTSIDE.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:28 PM on January 11, 2009


I'm confused by all of the claims that Tintin is unknown in the US. Is this true? I dimly recall reading a couple of the books as a child in New England. (On preview, I see I wasn't the only one.)

On the other hand, it's certainly true that the Spielberg movie will almost certainly be dreadful.
posted by enn at 3:28 PM on January 11, 2009


I always thought Tintin was a dog. I'm now incredibly confused as to how I might have picked up this erroneous idea.
posted by Caduceus at 3:35 PM on January 11, 2009


On the other hand, it's certainly true that the Spielberg movie will almost certainly be dreadful.

!!!

I'm looking forward to it. This is the type of thing Spielberg excels at (Crystal Skull notwithstanding).
posted by brundlefly at 3:36 PM on January 11, 2009


Well, it is perhaps not quite so certain as to require me to use the word "certainly" twice in the same sentence, I'll grant you.

hangs head in shame, prays for edit window.
posted by enn at 3:39 PM on January 11, 2009


And I thought they smelled bad on the OUTSIDE.
posted by blue_beetle


heh heh, hee
posted by marxchivist at 3:40 PM on January 11, 2009


“What debate can there be when the evidence is so overwhelmingly one-way?” Parris asked. “A callow, androgynous, blonde-quiffed youth in funny trousers and a scarf moving into the country mansion of his best friend, a middle-aged sailor? A sweet-faced lad devoted to a fluffy white toy terrier, whose other closest pals are an inseparable couple of detectives in bowler hats.

This is a gay stereotype I am not aware of.
posted by brundlefly at 3:41 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


> I always thought Tintin was a dog.

You're maybe thinking of Rin Tin Tin, German Shepard and silent film star?
posted by ardgedee at 3:42 PM on January 11, 2009


A more intriguing question is "why is there only one major female character?"
posted by Corduroy at 3:44 PM on January 11, 2009


I always thought Rin Tin Tin was a mongoose.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:45 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to it. This is the type of thing Spielberg excels at

This is not a thing that movies excel at.
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're maybe thinking of Rin Tin Tin, German Shepard and silent film star?

Ah. Yes, that is probably the cause of my confusion. In that case, my suggestion to French speaking Belgians is not to name their comic book detectives after dogs in the future.

I always thought Rin Tin Tin was a mongoose.

No, that's Riki Tiki Tavi.
posted by Caduceus at 3:51 PM on January 11, 2009


This is not a thing that movies excel at.

STUDIO GUY: “So what’s the story about?”

PITCH GUY: “Well, there’s this man. More of a boy, really. Sort of a man-boy. Hard to tell how old he is. Anyway, he’s a reporter and he investigates crimes around the world.”

“A man-boy crime reporter. Okay.”

“He travels the world, see, and… uh… well, he never seems to do any actual reporting, but he travels the world with a dog. And his best friend.”

“Best friend?”

“Yes, a raging alcoholic sea captain who hallucinates that the boy is a champagne bottle with alarming frequency and often tries to pull his head off.”

“That’s his best friend?”

“Well yes, apart from the dog. The dog can talk.”

“A talking dog?”

“More of a thinking dog, actually. The dog thinks. But, like, out loud.”

“So it’s a man-child reporter, a raging alcoholic and a … thinking dog.”

“Yes, and the Thompson Twins.”

“The ’80s pop group?”

“No, two bungling police investigators with similar names. Oh, and there’s an opera singer.”

“A man-boy reporter who doesn’t report, a homicidal alcoholic, a thinking dog, two incompetent policemen and an opera singer. Yes, this sounds like one for the kids. Who are they up against?”

“A wide range of grotesque caricatures of almost every non-white group on the planet.”

“Ah. So it’s a racist movie. That’s just… that’s smashing, that is.”

“Hang on, it’s based on these comics… here. Give these a read.”

[read read read]

STUDIO GUY: “Uh… you’re aware that almost every single one of these books has a plot that hinges on people getting rrreally stoned, right?”

PITCH GUY: “Oh, yeah. People are constantly drunk or out of their gourd on all sorts of narcotics. Tintin’s eating mushrooms, getting hallucinogenic blowdarts in the throat, boozed up by accident, boozed up on purpose, sleep-deprived, you name it. It’s like Hunter Thompson overdrive. I figure we can get Ralph Bakshi in on this, right?”

“Uh… I’ll call you back.”

“Hang on! I got another one. It’s about this little village full of French dudes, and they’re fighting the Romans, but they have like this steroid drug that they are drinking, like, constantly…”

[click]

(written a while ago, before the Spielberg thing was announced)
posted by Shepherd at 3:51 PM on January 11, 2009 [19 favorites]


Okay, the furor about whether or not Tintin is gay just reminds me of what the SESAME STREET creators had to say in response to whether Bert and Ernie were gay:

"No, they are not gay -- because they are puppets."


And they're brothers.

Seriously. They share a bedroom (but not a bed), Ernie is always messing with Bert's bottle-cap collection and driving Bert crazy, and in spite of everything, Bert still loves him.

Think about it. Ernie is Bert's younger brother.
posted by Amanojaku at 3:58 PM on January 11, 2009


The fact that it is so hard to tell if Tintin is gay proves that it makes no earthly difference.
posted by DU at 4:03 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Many of the links/stories in this thread are forgetting my (possibly) favorite character: Calculus. I absolutely love the books that go to the moon. I would say that 2-part series is my favorite Tintin adventure.
posted by Corduroy at 4:03 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh and my library has some Tintin books, as well as some Moomins, and the only reason I got as far as I did (maybe 20 pages) was I kept expecting them to get good at some point. Millions of people like these things, right? It was like watching grass grow, panel by panel, only less visualing interesting.
posted by DU at 4:05 PM on January 11, 2009


Matthew Paris is, BTW, a bit of a character.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on January 11, 2009


Amanojaku - I would have gone for "old married couple", but come to think of it your way makes a bit more sense.
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on January 11, 2009


DU - Are you dissing Tintin and Moomins in the same sentence? That;s going to make you some blood-enemies for life.
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ernie is Bert's younger brother.
They are, in fact, identical twins, although Bert was born first.

The way to tell twins apart is to look at the shape of their heads: the twin that comes out first tends to have an enlongated head shape (for reasons that should be apparent). Ernie plucks his eyebrows, and their different coloration must be because of untreated carotenoderma.
posted by Paragon at 4:28 PM on January 11, 2009


my, the heterosexual masses sure do fret about who their heros sleep with.

Funny. All of the examples you've cited look a lot more to me like desperate queer theorists trying to claim anyone who spent more than a few minuites alone with another bloke and no women present must be gay.
posted by rodgerd at 4:29 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Asterix et Obelix: l'amour des annees?

I laughed and laughed when I saw the Tintin magazine cover. I love revisionist nonsense, such as: The Smurfs are blue because the exhibit Krishna consciousness and foretell the coming of Shiva.

However, the is X gay meme is too easy. Here, watch:

Daffy Duck: gay? Obvious love of attention, drama queen, dirty bird

Bugs Bunny: gay? What's the deal with the carrots?

Tom and Jerry: Wannabe leathermen?

Mickey and Goofy... Donald and his 'nephews'... Nancy and Sluggo (is Sluggo a dyke?)...

et cetry
posted by mwhybark at 4:30 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Comparing Ernie and Bert is like comparing oranges and bananas.

Seriously. Designer Don Sahlin designed them after an orange and a banana.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:30 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Funny. All of the examples you've cited look a lot more to me like desperate queer theorists trying to claim anyone who spent more than a few minuites alone with another bloke and no women present must be gay.

Eponysterical.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:58 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can you be a ex-closeted ex-tory MP mate of Maggie Thatcher and be a queer theorist as well? I thought you had to go on marches and embrace radical socialism and stuff to do it properly.
posted by Artw at 5:26 PM on January 11, 2009


It's fun watching uptight straights get even more uptight over a comic book character, even one with fairly obvious undertones of sexual ambiguity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:39 PM on January 11, 2009


Oh, and happy b-day Tintin.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:39 PM on January 11, 2009


Bugs Bunny: gay?

Bugs Bunny in Drag. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Gay Cartoon Characters Revealed!
posted by ericb at 5:41 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously. They share a bedroom (but not a bed), Ernie Lucy is always messing with Bert Ricky's bottle-cap collection night-club act and driving Bert Ricky crazy, and in spite of everything, Bert Ricky still loves him Lucy.

Just sayin'.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:45 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon, the books are not 'ambiguous', as much as having no sexual references regarding Tintin whatsoever. You could make arguments about Captain Haddock and a couple other characters, but Tintin, as someone above put it, seems above it all.
posted by Corduroy at 5:55 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think every Tintin story fails the Bechdel test.
posted by anthill at 5:55 PM on January 11, 2009


Corduroy:

Have you made/can you make more of those t-shirts? You can put me down for one, if so.

Also, I'm usually all over the Bert/Ernie Batman/Robin stuff, but for whatever reason it just doesn't work with Tintin. I see the angle, and my response is "Nah, just don't."

I'm not sure why - I think it's because the Tintin world is kind of ethereal and delicate for me, and dropping a sex-stereotype joke on it kind of crushes it. It would be like making sex jokes about the Little Prince or something. Batman and Robin are big, broad, ridiculous characters that can absorb a hell of a lot of distortion and satirical redirection, but not Tintin. And I *know* there's hella craziness, violence, and colonialist racism in the albums - it's no big secret that the Belgians were among the absolute worst colonial murderers in history, so the subtext is unavoidable - but that's just the way it is, somehow. Matter of taste?
posted by facetious at 6:29 PM on January 11, 2009



On the other hand, it's certainly true that the Spielberg movie will almost certainly be dreadful.

Moffat's writing it, let's at least give it a chance. On the other hand, if it ends up being uncanny valley territory, I am so not there.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:08 PM on January 11, 2009


I always thought Rin Tin Tin was a mongoose.

No, that's Riki Tiki Tavi.


I always thought Riki Tiki Tavi was a Chinese boy who had an incredibly long name, so that his brother couldn't summon help in time to save him when he fell in the well, because it took so long to recite the child's name.

Oh no, wait, that was Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sarimbo Hari Kari Bushkie Perry Pem Do Hai Kai Pom Pom Nikki No Meeno Dom Barako.
posted by lostburner at 7:11 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, so is Pinkerton's "Pirate Bathoom Comics" essentially just Tintin in disguise?

Christ, what little was left of jaypinkerton.com is now hosed, too, at least without google to steer you into the archives if you already know what you're looking for. All in the name of money and regular employment, Jay? Huh? Well? I hope it was worth it!
posted by maxwelton at 7:32 PM on January 11, 2009


What does Tin Tin's sexuality have to do with his birthday?! Anyway, Tin Tin has the greatest companion in the world, Snowy! Aww, Snowy..
posted by Mael Oui at 7:54 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was looking at 'Rin Tin Tin' above and somehow typed 'Tin Tin' instead of 'Tintin'. Sorry.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:56 PM on January 11, 2009


Nonetheless, Europeans have largely forgiven him his flirts with Nazi sympathies (L'Étoile Mystérieuse, 1942).

That's The Shooting Star... and I can't remember any such sympathies. Anyone?
posted by alexei at 8:15 PM on January 11, 2009


Really it's just about time to draw the curtain over this whole "They're gay! Just look how they act!" business.

Determining sexual orientation by behavior is the kind of thing jokey fratboys do. Then the gay community, of all people, picked up on it and started declaring nearly everything that comes from the blissful, pre-sexual realm of childhood as being gay.

Tintin is not gay.
Ernie and Bert are not gay.
Bugs Bunny is not gay.
Dumbledore is not ga-- what, you're saying J. K. Rowling says he is? Oh for the LOVE of men god!
posted by JHarris at 8:19 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


A few years ago, I made the mistake of reading Tintin in Thailand.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:30 PM on January 11, 2009


In the original version of The Shooting Star one of the captains of industry and finance villains listed has a Jewish name and stereotypically Jewish features.

As for Tintin in Thailand, I have a copy on my computer, but have yet to finish it.
posted by Gnatcho at 9:40 PM on January 11, 2009


Thailand is pretty crap as far as bootlegs go; the sexuality bothered me less than the really shitty art. Breaking Free, wherein Tintin is a young British anarchist who takes up the class war, is far more amusing, albeit often unintentionally.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:51 PM on January 11, 2009


It would be like making sex jokes about the Little Prince or something.

Le Petit Prince: est-il princesse?
posted by mwhybark at 10:23 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course Tintin is gay. I like Tintin, I am gay. Tintin is Belgian, my partner is Belgian. Tintin is blond, my partner is blond. Therefore, Tintin is gay.

And Tintin is Flemmish, because my partner is Flemmish, and both are cute blonds, therefore, both are Flemmish.

You read Tintin as you like, I'll do the same.
posted by Goofyy at 11:31 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, Captain Haddock: paid up member of NAMBLA or what?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:40 AM on January 12, 2009


Sorry to interrupt your *ahem* love in.

Most political cartoonists draw the Oz Prime Minister as Tintin.

Here he is fighting with the ex-PM, Jackboot Johnnie Eyebrows Howard esq... http://aterrier.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/rudd.jpg
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:45 AM on January 12, 2009


Breaking Free is good, and I love the final panel, but I wish it had done something with the actual characters. My favourite part, as I've mentioned before on this site, is the wholesale endorsement of revolutionary violence.
posted by Gnatcho at 12:50 AM on January 12, 2009


Tintin is not gay.
Ernie and Bert are not gay.
Bugs Bunny is not gay.


Smithers is not gay.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:00 AM on January 12, 2009


Goofyy: You read Tintin as you like, I'll do the same.

Of course, it is fine by me that you do that. Sorry.

It's when someone gets loud and argumentative about how they choose to read something, and pushy about getting most other people to read it that way too, that I feel like I must proclaim they're wrong. Especially when that proclaimation has the chance to ruin kids stuff through meddling adults seeking to remove things that (IMO) aren't really there.

The link wasn't saying how Tintin might be gay, it was saying he was obviously so, and ridiculing the opinion that he might not be.
posted by JHarris at 2:24 AM on January 12, 2009


PeterMcDermott:So, Captain Haddock: paid up member of NAMBLA or what?

I'm sorry, but this a horribly homophobic remark, and reflects a huge ignorance. Tintin is not a child. He is certainly 'boyish', but children do not go running around the globe solving crimes, while living independently of their parents. Please keep such hateful and ignorant remarks some place other than these blue pages.
posted by Goofyy at 5:47 AM on January 12, 2009


I think part of his appeal to kids was his curious status as someone who appeared to be a boy (about 14?) and yet was treated like an adult and could do adult things.

I don't think that makes him gay, exactly, but if you look at him seriously he is a bit strange, even creepy. I think a 3D CGI animated version of him would give me nightmares.
posted by Phanx at 5:58 AM on January 12, 2009


Sorry, Goofyy, in the context of your point that came over with 'hateful and ignorant' implications I didn't at all intend.
posted by Phanx at 6:05 AM on January 12, 2009


Am I the only person who thinks the 'tintin is gay' guy is taking the piss? Why do people treat it like a serious argument rather than a joke?
posted by jcruelty at 1:18 PM on January 12, 2009


I suspect a certain amount of tongue-in-cheekness to it, yes, along with a fair degree of outrage-without-reading-the-article in the response.
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on January 12, 2009


On the other hand tory-boy does still apear to be a bit of a cock.
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on January 12, 2009


You know, whatever their merits as literary or historical criticism, I don't think all these Tintin/Batman/Lincoln-is-gay arguments would cause nearly so much fuss or reach as large an audience if it weren't for the panicky straight backlash of OMG NO THEY AREN'T THEY TOTALLY AREN'T.
posted by bettafish at 5:56 PM on January 12, 2009


Watch out for Tintinitus! Your hearing is important.
posted by Eideteker at 10:01 PM on January 12, 2009


tongue-in-cheekness

/backs away from the keyboard slowly
posted by mwhybark at 2:47 PM on January 14, 2009


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