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Smurf this! Scholar sees Stalin in comic-book realm
Published : Jun 8, 2011 - 10:25
Updated : Jun 8, 2011 - 12:26

 


PARIS (AFP) - Just in time for Global Smurfs Day and a Smurfs movie in 3-D comes a little blue book from a French academic that has some fans of the sock-topped comic book characters seeing red.

Antoine Bueno, who lectures at the high-brow Paris Institute of Political Studies, thought he was just having fun when he penned his 177-page analysis of the politics of Smurfland that's just been published in France.

"Smurfs society," writes Bueno by way of hypothesis in his work of spoof scholarship, "is an archetype of a totalitarian utopia" bearing the hallmarks of Stalinism and Nazism.

It's an orderly, harmonious and male-dominated world in which Smurfs eat together, work together, apparently do not own their own homes, and never bicker over money because there is none.

French novelist and senior lecturer to the IEP (Institute of Political Studies), Antoine Bueno, poses, on May 27, 2011 in Paris. (AFP)


Not only is Papa Smurf "all-powerful and omniscient," writes Bueno, but his white beard gives him a curious resemblance to Josef Stalin or Karl Marx, with the bespectacled Brainy Smurf standing in for Leon Trotsky.

As the Smurfs' sworn enemy, scheming sorcerer Gargamel -- a hunchbacked misanthropic loner with a cat called Azrael -- represents a perennial capitalist threat, in Bueno's opinion.

"I am myself a child of the Smurfs, and I did not take it seriously when I compared Papa Smurf to Stalin," Bueno told AFP.

"I imagined that this analysis of the little world of Smurfs as a totalitarian utopia might amuse readers -- but I never expected the strong reactions that it provoked."

But it did.

"Idiot... fraud... dream-wrecker... opportunist," are some of the one-word broadsides hurled at Bueno on the Internet.

"It's typical of political correctness that sees racism everywhere,"

groaned one disgruntled Smurf fan, while another said: "How shameful to so gratuitously destroy the stories of our childhood."

"These are sad times when ill is seen everywhere," sighed a third blogger.

Bueno's "The Little Blue Book: A Critical and Political Analysis of Smurf Society" comes as Smurf fans look forward to this summer's 3-D release of "The Smurfs" directed by Raja Gosnell, who notably did the "Scooby Doo" movies.

To promote the film, Sony Pictures is declaring June 25 to be Global Smurfs Day and inviting families to dress up accordingly in hopes of setting a Guinness record for "the greatest number of people dressed as Smurfs".

In April, the 29th Smurf album in French -- "Les Schtroumpfs et l'arbre d'or" (The Smurfs and the Golden Tree) -- was published by Brussels comic book house Le Lombard.

Bueno takes pains to say that his book is by no means a personal critique of Pierre Culliford, who under the pen name Peyo created the Smurfs in the late 1950s in his native Belgium.

Culliford died in 1992 at the age of 64, and his son Thierry Culliford remembers him as apolitical. "At election time, he'd ask my mother: 'Who must I vote for?'" he told the French news magazine L'Express.

Bueno "can peel apart the albums, even if I do not support his interpretation ... so long as he does not attack my father," added Culliford, who oversees the Smurfs brand worldwide.

But as the Parisian scholar points out, the elder Culliford, as a teenager, did personally experience Nazi Germany's harsh occupation of Belgium during World War II.

"A work can channel imagery that an author, in good faith, does not support," Bueno said. "Thus the Smurfs could be more a reflection of the spirit of the times than the mind of their creator."

  

<한글기사>

"스머프 마을은 전체주의 사회"

스탈린주의-나치즘 특성지녀..파파 스머프, 스탈린 연상

   

(파리 AFP=연합뉴스) 지난 50여년간 세계인의 사랑을 받아온 만화 `개구쟁이 스 머프'가 전체주의 사회를 형상화한 것이라는 주장이 나왔다.

프랑스 파리정치대학의 학자 앙투완 뷔에노는 최근 출간된 `작은 파란  책:스머 프 사회에 대한 비판적.정치적 분석(The Little Blue Book:A Critical and Politica l Analysis of Smurf Society)'에서 스머프 마을이 스탈린주의와 나치즘의 특징을 가진 "전체주의 유토피아의 전형"이라고 주장했다.

스머프 마을은 질서정연하고 조화롭고 남성 위주의 세계로, 모두가 함께 먹고 함께 일하며 개인의 집을 소유하지 않고 돈도 존재하지 않는다는 점에서 전체주의 사회가 꿈꾸는 유토피아와 닮았다는 것이다.

특히 뷔에노는 파파 스머프의 경우 전지전능할 뿐 아니라 하얀 턱수염을기르고 있다는 점에서 소련의 독재자 이오시프 스탈린, 칼 마르크스와 닮았고, 안경을 쓴 똘똘이 스머프는 공산 혁명가 레온 트로츠키를 떠올리게 한다고 주장한다.

갖가지 계략으로 스머프 마을을 위협하는 악당 `가가멜'은 계속되는 자본주의의 위협을 상징한다.

이 같은 분석에 대해 인터넷에서는 모든 것을 인종차별주의적으로 해석하는  진 부한 이론이라는 등의 비판도 나오고 있다.

뷔에노는 "스머프들의 작은 세계가 전체주의 유토피아라는 분석이 독자들을  즐 겁게해 줄 것이라고 생각했지만 이같이 강한 반응을 불러올 것이라고는 예상하지 못 했다"면서 자신의 책이 스머프의 작가 피에르 컬리포드에 대한 개인적인 비평은  아 니라고 말했다.

그는 벨기에 출신의 컬리포드가 10대 때 나치의 혹독한 지배를 경험했다는 점을 강조하면서 스머프는 당시 시대의 반영일 수 있다고 지적했다.

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