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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Are the Smurfs cryptofascists?

I’ve been saving this question up till you’d all had a chance to see The Smurfs. You’ve all paid obeisance to the little blue buggers by now, haven’t you? Good.
An article in Time in June highlighted a new book called Le Petit Livre Bleu (The Little Blue Book). What’s it about?

Whether he meant it or not, [Peyo] endowed his magical little creatures with some Stalinist, racist and anti-Semitic leanings, argues [academic Antoine] Buéno.

Buéno first questioned the Smurfs’ biological nature and sexuality: by the way, why is there only one Smurfette? Then, he tried to show that Smurf society is the archetype of a totalitarian utopia marked by Stalinism and Nazism.

The Smurfs are self-sufficient. Smurf society is collectivist and interventionist. Its only leader, Papa Smurf, is all-powerful. And, like Stalin, his favorite color is red.

They all eat at the canteen and are all ridiculously puritan. In “The Black Smurfs” album, racism is obvious: blood purity becomes something vital and the dark brown Smurf is referred to as “the ugly one.” In another album called “Smurfette,” Buéno notes how the Aryan blond is idealized.

The Smurfs are also united against a sworn enemy called Gargamel, a large-nosed, black-haired possibly anti-Semitic caricature, and his cat Azrael.

Well, if you put it that way…

What do you think? Are the Smurfs cryptofascists? And what if they are? Does it matter?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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