The Smurfs are icons of the animated universe. They have a full-length feature film set for release in mid-Summer. And it can be expected that there will be many attempting to capitalize on what will most likely be a successful cinematic run. But to be attacked by a French sociologist as racists and socialists and Nazis?
"The Smurfs," an animated feature film starring the tiny blue characters that dominated American television during the 1980's, is set for a late July release. There are already two trailers getting heavy play on the Internet and an occasional rotation on television. And as with any highly anticipated movie, there is the foreknowledge that there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals and groups looking for a hook or tie-in to the characters or the movie in order to make a few dollars. Some of those "tie-ins" will be in the form of attacks, perhaps the raising of controversial subjects. But a new book by French sociologist Antoine Bueno seems to have covered every extreme in describing the little blue characters, noting that the characters and the storyline reflects socialism and Nazism, racism and sexism.
According to Bueno, the Smurfs represent various evils of the world. He all but calls them little blue sexist racist Stalinist Nazis. In Le Petit Livre Bleu ("The Little Blue Book"), Bueno explains how the Smurfs exhibit certain characteristics indicative of some of the more unsavory beliefs and political movements the world has ever known (and still experiences in some degree in some areas). Of course the book has caused a bit of a stir amongst Smurfs fans, many of whom are angry at Bueno's depiction of cartoons beloved by millions of children.
But Bueno, who is a lecturer at the Sciences Po political sciences school in Paris, says that their anger is based on misunderstanding. He actually "loves" the Smurfs. He explains that his book is only a reflection of what the Smurfs were representative of -- society in the 1950s, the era in which they were created.
According to Gawker, he identifies several issues in his book. Among them:
Anti-Semitism: Bueno describes the evil wizard Gargamel as the stereotyped Jew: "ugly, dirty, with a hooked nose (who) is fascinated by gold."
Socialism: The Smurfs owned no property and did a lot of activities together.
Stalinism: Bueno notes that this was embodied in controlling Papa Smurf, who wore a red cap and red pants.
Sexism: Smurfette was the only girl Smurf.
Nazism: Bueno notes that Smurfette's blonde hair points to Nazi leanings. He also posits the Smurfs relationship with Gargamel and his "maybe-Jewish cat, Azrael."
Racism: Apparently the creator of the Smurfs, Belgian cartoonist Peyo, originally came up with The Black Smurfs. The tiny guys became black after one of them gets bitten by a black fly that changed his skin color to jet black. The village somehow eventually all became black Smurfs and degenerated into what Bueno described as "reduced to the state of primitives who jump around and cry: 'Gnap! Gnap!' [Gnash! Gnash!] They lose all trace of intelligence and become completely moronic."
Smurf fans are up in arms about the mostly derogatory depictions and interpretations of Bueno. According to Gawker, he fears for his life after reading some of the comments about himself and his book on the Internet.
It is uncertain if Bueno plans to add an updated chapter to include views on the sociological aspects of the film once "The Smurfs" movie is released.