Steven Spielberg’s “Adventures of Tintin” may have the best animation style I’ve ever seen in a kids’ film. It’s almost as if you can’t tell if the characters are real people or art. It’s spectacular.
But I guess Spielberg was so focused on the animation, he forgot about half of the kid population. There are so many males and so few females in this movie that I– even me– was blown away. If a Martian came to Earth and saw this film, she would think our species was the type that clones itself to reproduce. The movie even has two twin mustachioed investigators that would seem to support that hypothesis.
Like most kids movies, this is a buddy movie (can I say “friendship” movie?) The three buddies, the main characters in the film– Tintin, Captain Haddock, and Snowy the dog– are male.
All the villains are also male, the gangs of them. The good guys are male as well, almost to caricature as mentioned with the clone investigators.
For female roles, there is a housekeeper, an old lady that hits someone with her bag, and a third who my daughter spotted when I went to the women’s room. My daughter said she was a singer.
I know, I know: Tintin was a book before it was a movie. What’s Spielberg supposed to do about that? He’s just one director trying to be faithful to his inspiration.
Tintin was actually many books, and “Adventures” ended with a teaser that practically announced the next film.
And guess what, there’s a video game too.
Reel Girl gives “The Adventures of Tintin” an SS rating. In spite of its almost total lack of females, Tintin escapes the dreaded Triple S. The females in the movie don’t do anything terribly, stereotypically offensive such as talk about their hair or their boyfriends, though they don’t interact with each other at all and one is a housekeeper.
After I posted about the lack of females in the new Tintin movie, a commenter wrote in this quote from Herge: “For me, women have nothing to do in a world like Tintin’s, which is the realm of male friendship.”
I googled the quote and all kinds of references came up, this one from Wikipedia:
Hergé has also been accused of sexism, due to the almost complete lack of female characters in his books. The only woman character of importance is Bianca Castafiore, who is potrayed to be foolish and nearly oblivious to all negative reactions to her behaviour — though she does show loyalty, presence of mind and quick wit when hiding Tintin and Haddock from Colonel Sponsz in The Calculus Affair.
Hergé himself denied being a misogynist, saying that “for me, women have nothing to do in a world like Tintin’s, which is the realm of male friendship”.
Other reasons were because he believed that sentimentality had little to do in Tintin’s stories, which are mainly about men getting into all sorts of “misadventures rather than adventures”, and wherein “mocking women would not be nice”. He also felt that a man slipping on a banana skin, providing he does not break a leg, is much funnier than if it happened to a woman. As a female interviewer put it, “It has nothing to do with the misogynist world of the boy scout,” referring to the fact that Hergé was a scout in his youth.
OK, Herge denied being a misogynist and then says “women have no place in a world like Tintin’s.” Um, that is misogyny.
Wikipedia tells us: “Tintin’s stories, which are mainly about men getting into all sorts of ‘misadventures rather than adventures’, and wherein ‘mocking women would not be nice.’ ”
Maybe that isn’t the full quote. Maybe it’s not in right context, but as it stands, Herge implies that the only reason to include women would be to mock them? Is there no other reason to include female characters in a story?
“Other reasons were because he believed that sentimentality had little to do in Tintin’s stories…”
So including women requires sentimentality?
And slipping on a banana peel is funny if you’re a man but not a woman? What?
I don’t get it. All the ways the Wikipedia writers and Herge attempt to explain away his sexism are sexist. What do they think sexism is? Maybe they excuse Herge for similar reasons that Reel Girl rated “Tintin” with two SSs for gender stereotyping instead of three; there weren’t blatant offensive acts in the movie, so the movie didn’t get the worst rating. Females aren’t “mocked” because of their gender, they’re just not there.
The sick thing is that when you see “Tintin,” when it comes to women, you can tell there’s something off in the mind of the creator. The lack of females is glaring and weird and disturbing. And this is a movie for kids! Doesn’t Stephen Spielberg care? Don’t parents? When Spielberg shopped this film around to studios (maybe Spielberg doesn’t do that) did anyone say, “Interesting story, but there are no females in the entire series. That might be a problem for us. Half of kids, after all, are girls.”
I guess no one said that. Sadly, Tintin” is actually not disturbing to audiences, because most of the movies made for kids today have casts pretty much identical to this one, a series created by an artist who believes women have no place in his imaginary world.
I got this comment on my Tintin post from Neal:
Funny, my wife, daughters, son and parents didn’t notice this absence. They saw a film they enjoyed. As a reader of the original series I can tell that you’ll be disheartened to learn that this absence continues. Stop badgering Spielberg about this. You should be congratulating Kathleen Kennedy who is one of the producers and a long time collaborator of Spielbergs.
If Neal went to a film where the three main characters were female, all the heroes and all the villains were also female, do you think he might notice?
Sexism is so ingrained, people use it to defend sexism. Wow.
Commenters are defending the Tintin movie, writing that creator Herge’s sexism was simply a product of his times.
Margot, you are aware that Hergé wrote most of his comic books (including the three on which the film is based) before WWII, at a time when women in his home country of Belgium as in many others didn’t even have the right to vote? Of course his work reflects the prejudices of that era, not only towards women but towards just about everyone who wasn’t a white Christian male (the most egregious example being Tintin in the Congo)!
Would Steven Spielberg adapt Herge’s racist views (“of his times”) expressed in Tintin in the Congoto make a movie in 2012 and market that movie to kids?
Of course not. No one would see it. People would be horrified. Herge’s racist views are universally recognized as the aberration that they are. Why is Herge’s “dated” sexism celebrated in a loyal adaptation from one of our most acclaimed directors?
There are two answers, both are true. The first one is that in 2012 sexism is, in many ways, just as accepted and “normal” as it was in 1932. Women are humiliated and degraded all the time, but while racism is seen as a political issue, sexism is still seen as a “cultural” one.
The second, less controversial explanation is that in Herge’s comics, he directly degrades and humiliates Africans whereas his sexism mostly manifests as an omission. His racism is worse. Herge believes women have no place in his imaginary world. Is that offensive? Is it even sexist?
It’s an annihilation.
What is remarkable about this annihilation, and what I was writing about, is that it’s consistent with the casts of most animated movies made today. A story originally created by an artist who spoke openly of how he didn’t think females should be included in his imaginary world is almost indistinguishable from the majority of films made for kids right now. Steven Spielberg probably didn’t even notice.
What does that say about how important we think girls are?