Print Edition - 2017-09-27 | Life & Style
Is Tintin a girl?
- After media fuss, philosopher Vincent Cespede says playful suggestion that Hergé’s boy detective was a young girl was merely ‘rethinking from another point of view’
Sep 27, 2017-
A French philosopher, who made headlines worldwide last week after writing that he believed the boy detective Tintin was actually a girl, has said that it was a thought experiment and that the media ran it despite being told it was fake news.
“For his creator, Tintin [had] always been a young girl. An androgynous redhead with blue eyes, and probably asexual,” wrote Vincent Cespedes on Facebook last week. “Hergé would still be sniggering to find that 30 years after his death and 80 years after the first appearance of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, the whole world still believed that his ‘tomboy’—as he called the character in front of the few friends who were in on the joke—is well and truly a real boy.”
In the post, Cespedes cited various reasons for his belief, including Tintin being the only one to wear a kilt in Scotland in The Black Island, and his dressing a group of soldiers up as women in Tintin and the Picaros. The detective, according to Cespedes, has traits that would then have been seen as typically feminine.
Despite intending his essay to be a comment on the interpretation of art, and topping it with an image labelled “Fake News”, the story was widely reported. When asked for an interview by the Huffington Post, Cespedes said that it was intended only as a philosophical conversation starter, but they ran the story regardless—and it was later picked up by UK media, including the Times and the Independent. “They prefer to spread it as if, ‘this philosopher is crazy, and not mention fake news,” Cespedes told the Guardian.
“What I have learned is that the real media needs fake news to grow. The media needs fake news. Post-truth, journalists need false journalism to grow in this new world I call cyber-modernity … All is plural. You don’t know if it is true or false—it is in the middle,” he said.
In the days after his post, he had spoken to journalists everywhere from India to Ireland, he said. “[Journalists] want my theory because it spreads their news all around the world, France, Belgium, etc. It’s very interesting to understand what game the media’s playing now, in cyber-modernity. They play a very, very, very dangerous game. They want ‘What the heck?’ first. They need fake news to spread their news.”
Whatever Cespedes’s intentions, he might be on to something, said Benoît Peeters, a Tintin expert and Lancaster University’s visiting professor in graphic fiction and comic art. While Hergé “certainly” did not consciously intend to make Tintin a gender-neutral character, Peeters believes that there is “something neutral” about the young reporter.
“He was so young when he created Tintin—in a few hours. At that time, he was inspired by Paul, his younger brother,” said Peeters. “Officially, Tintin is a young boy, aged 17. But I believe that there is something neutral in the character. And that’s why girls can read the book with the same pleasure as boys.”
Published: 27-09-2017 09:45