Racism, anti-semitism, fascism, and The Smurfs

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Antoine Buéno, a lecturer at Paris's Sciences Po political science university, has written a new book analyzing Smurf society in which he apparently argues that they live in a fascist dictatorship. In the book, titled Le Petit Livre Bleu: Analyse critique et politique de la société des Schtroumpfs, he argues that the Smurf's enemy, Gargaemel, is an anti-semitic caricature of a Jew. Furthermore, one particular Smurf narrative has a racist and colonialist bent. Needless to say, people are really smurfed off about this, especially as Smurfs are in the spotlight again with a new live-action movie due out next month. From The Guardian:
Littleblueeeee "People think I'm moralising, which isn't my approach at all, (Buéno says). I analyse fairly, I have fun ... I do not want to disenchant. One can keep one's childhood approach and impose on top an analytical approach which smiles to itself."

He believes the emotional nature of the responses stems from the Smurfs' place in fans' childhoods. "It's linked to childhood – it's 'don't touch my Smurfs! Don't touch my Proust's madeleine!'," he said. Le Petit Livre Bleu is a "true monograph, the first ever done on the Smurfs", says Buéno, and is "rigorous and thorough and documented", based on intuitions expressed long before his book, including the "Cold War paranoia" that Smurf stood for "Small Men Under Red Force", and exploring his belief that "popular works, however innocent they seem, have much to say about our society".

But despite its serious purpose, the book "does not take itself seriously", he said. "My approach is schoolboy, somewhat in the spirit of Monty Python (my heroes) ... Of course it's funny to talk about totalitarianism, Stalinism and nazism for small animals as friendly, innocent and popular as the Smurfs," he said. "It's so obvious that I didn't think I would have to spell it out..."

Buéno added that he does not believe the Smurfs' creator Peyo, a pen name for the late Belgian artist Pierre Culliford, added the racist overtones to the Smurfs deliberately. "Peyo was not at all politicised; all this was unconscious," he said.

"Smurfs accused of antisemitism and racism"


    1. “This isn’t even a new troll, it’s just a deliberated inversion of the old troll (smurfs are communists) to make it look new:”

      So? Fascism != Communism, and racism and anti-semitism aren’t a part of that trope.

      1. Aww as any member of the tea party will explain

        Fascism = Communism = Socialism = Islam = Belgians =Waffles

        Obviously the Smurfs are a gay Belgian Islamofascist Caliphate imposing Sharia Law, with only Gargamel (Ayn Rand) and Azrael (Ludwig von Mises) defending civilization! I mean Papa Smurf is either Saul Alinsky or George Soros.


        It’s obvious form the fact that they all have 4 wives (ok, they just all married smurffete 4 times).

  1. Smurfs just make me feel blue. And not the good, melted-Otter Pop fake blueberry blue, either.

  2. meh. give us an example of a child’s fantasy land that isn’t one step away from Nazi/Communist/Orwellian/dystopian nightmare. Call it the My-Pretty-Pony subsection of Godwin’s rule.

  3. Does it matter? Most kids stories (and adult ones) exlude things like poverty and classes because the authors and illustrators thought the themes where too adult. That makes them appear “communist”.

    Since class society is a deeply set part of us we tend to make rulers, kings, queens and industrial roles in our tales even though they aren’t open och described as such, so a leader, the ancient old bearded Marx-looking Smurf (I dont know what hes called in English) wearing red. “Ooooh it must be Stalin or something”. It could just aswell be Henry VIII and the reason theres only one female smurf left is because none of the others could give him sons. Henry liked red clothes too and had a beard.

    Whether Gargamel is like some wierd Shylock character and some antisemitic ideal jew, well wtf: antisemitism like most other forms of prejudice isn’t that easy to avoid. You can’t just say “Im gonna ignore my whole childhood, my parents, my friends, society as a whole and the roles I slap onto others” and then be free of them. Any creative work will carry parts of the creator with them so perhaps he was a little antisemitic? Its not nice but then again its not strange and its hopefully not relevant since many of us have never thought of gargamel as a stereotype for friends who are jewish.

    On the other hand I am a marxist so I *would* say that wouldn’t I? Anything to spread the red infection further >:)

  4. I just saw a preview of that new Smurfs movie. On the whole I think I’d rather watch an overtly communist/anti-semetic/sexist/fascist film than submit myself to that monstrosity.

  5. I remember reading somewhere that one of the reason Gargamel may be interpreted as ‘Jewish’ is that he has a big nose. That’s really reaching considering that MOST male characters in Belgian comics have big noses… Strong noses are a pretty common Gallic trait, actually. I know first hand…

    I don’t get what is the point of over-analysing such stories as opposed to, you know, more relevant matters. Oh well, at least, this guy doesn’t seem to be taking his analysis too seriously, so maybe it was just entertaining to him?

  6. I was going to post something insightful and funny, but after I typed the word “Smurfsploitation” I forgot what I was typing.


    1. I was going to post something insightful and funny, but after I typed the word “Smurfsploitation” I forgot what I was typing.

      If you want to see Smurfsploitation, Google ‘smurf porn’. At your own risk.

      1. So, I googled “smurf porn,” and the first result google returned was in purple, indicating I’d been there before.


        1. I think it was back in ’99 when my friends and I first decided to test Rule 34 of the internet by searching for that. Suffice to say, even back then, Rule 34 applied.

        2. To be fair, it’s probably my fault. I’ve linked it more than once. I find it bizarre, and I’ve never seen The Smurfs. I can’t imagine how someone with childhood associations would view it. It would be like me watching the Roadrunner fisting Wile E. Coyote.

          1. You’ve never seen the Smurfs?!

            The communist “analyses” tend to be more clever, but I’ll bet there’s a serious analysis waiting to be written about any civilization that would produce thousands of webpages of political analysis of the Smurfs.

            Incidentally, where on the political map do you suppose Fraggle Rock lands.

          2. You’ve never seen the Smurfs?!

            Since they didn’t appear in US culture until I was in my mid-twenties, I wouldn’t have had much occasion to encounter them.

  7. Everybody knows what SMURF means: Small Men Under Red Father. All blue, all comunists.

  8. I took some German literature classes in college, and a recurring stock villain in a lot of fairy tales is the old Jewish wizard who lives in the forest, always trying to get rich by doing villainous things (e.g. turning things into gold). I don’t think the Smurfs’ creator intentionally set out to make an antisemitic caricature, but he was copying an archetypical character that is historically antisemitic, probably without even realizing it.

  9. popular works, however innocent they seem, have much to say about our society

    The premise that such an analysis is worthwhile says more about our society than cartoon characters ever could.

  10. Well, I always knew Babar was a fascist – and the Man in the Yellow Hat was a pedo – so it’s no surprize those little blue farts were equally bent.

    1. Babar always seemed to me to be more of an imperialist, rather than a fascist.

      I mean, Babar was a king, right? Or am I thinking of some other fairy tale?

  11. I think I have to go with the canonical deconstruction of the Smurfs, as seen in the film, “Slacker.”

    1. I was surprised it took this long in the thread to get to this! The original socio-political smurf-ising …

  12. Heh, how ’bout “Masters of the Universe”?

    I mean, they joke about the “Gay” sub-themes they think they can find, but nothing about MOTU being “The cartoon the Nazis would have made if they won”. Elsewhere saw an artist as a sketch do a He-Man with a Swastika chest piece… I mean, he’s an overman and he defends chiefly white people and his white woman from a legion of sub-humans…

    Now, do I think it’s really racist… NOPE…

    Frankly, why aren’t you guys joining the “Foreskin Man” garbage? Where the ADL cries it’s “Anti-Semetic” because they dare address the chief issue behind the attempt to block a ban on MALE “Genital Mutilation”, jews/rabbis/the bris…

      1. Uh, I cited the comic, doooood…

        And, IMO, if Jews/Jewish culture had NOTHING to do with circumcision there would be NO such character in issue #2.

        We oughtta get this article here, could be some lively debate!!!

  13. Only an intellectual Colossus could suck the life out of the smurfs.

    It’s philosophical parasitism.

  14. I never got to watch the smurfs on Saturday mornings because (apparently) they were Satanic too. Just like rock and roll music…

  15. Of course, this is written by some French jackass who thinks that dropping a bunch of deconstructionist/Marxist catch-phrases counts as cutting-edge cultural criticism. It is for this very reason that I despise academia, and French “academics” in particular.

    1. So your objection is that deconstructionism and Marxism are not fresh enough forms of cultural criticism? May I ask about the more relevant frameworks you’re trying to understand the world through?

      Or are you complaining that the author of this book “in the spirit of Monty Python” is not sufficiently knowledgeable about Marxism and deconstructionism?

      In no meaningful way have you refuted anything about this book (which I’m assuming that you haven’t read in the first place, given that the book doesn’t seen to be available in English and you are apparently using French as insult).

      1. And we had 29 comments till the knee-jerk French-bashing started… *sigh*

        Whereas I was thinking: wow, we made it to 29 comments before the knee-jerk French-bashing started; there may be hope yet.

        Americans should love the French if for no other reason than common cause. Our two countries are the world’s internet pinatas.

  16. I’ve actually been making this argument, as a joke, since the early 90’s. Haven’t read the book, but some of the evidence:
    1. Gargamel, very much a stereotypical jew. Wants to turn the smurfs to gold, the nose, etc
    2. Azrael, a hebrew name, for the angel of death? I believe
    3. Smurfette, created by Gargamel to trap the smurfs. Originally had dark hair and eyes, only after papa smurf converted her did she obtain he blonde hair / blue eye’d look.
    4. The anti-intellectual / pro worker bent given by their treatment of Brainy (who was annoying) and Brawny smurf.

    Now, many of the critiques could also apply to viewing the smurfs as communist, but I think the naming of Gargamel and Azrael seal it in favor of nazi-ism.

    1. “Now, many of the critiques could also apply to viewing the smurfs as communist, but I think the naming of Gargamel and Azrael seal it in favor of nazi-ism.”

      How does that work? Communists were not anti-semitic? Maybe not in 1939, but later?

  17. Communitarianism automatically = stalinism, apparently, because we haven’t gotten over the malignant results of hyperjingoist McCarthyism.

    It’s not like every single human society has existed like that at some point in their history, no, it’s Stalinism.
    And what kind of society is lead by their oldest, wisest member, who is almost always proven right, and has great leadership skills?, that would just be silly.

    wow, and he’s surprised that he got negative feedback.

  18. Don’t get my wife started on Curious George – lots of old school Paternal Colonialism happening there. Simple monkey!

  19. Smurfs are *animals*?

    In what way?

    IIRC, animals in smurf comics are mainly, if not exclusively, real animals. No talking mice, no sword wielding rats.

    They have all the trapping of a hominid civilisation, safe for the fact that they don’t lie with woman, Which is absolutely unsurprising, since lack of women or interaction with women are a trope of books for children.

  20. The red cap that Papa Smurf wears is a traditional symbol in Gallic areas of Liberty – the Phrygian cap – symbolising free men, free from tyranny. The white caps are also Phrygian caps.

    There is a theme in anti-Semitic Western European children’s tales of the evil Jewish wizard, living in the forest, trying to turn things to gold – Peyo may not have been aware of the origins, but that was used as propaganda in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

    The German Nazis also caricatured Jews as “der Giftpilz” – “The Poisonous Mushroom” – where they describe Jews as having protruding ears and hooked noses. Smurfs live in mushrooms.

    It may be an artifact of Peyo’s cultural upbringing, but it is definitely there.

  21. Don’t forget the first Smurf album featured a disease which turned smurfs black and evil. Later they were replaced with purple ones because of the unfortunate overtones. In Peyo’s defence he started writing the smurfs way back in 1959, a very different age. Belgium even still had the Kongo as a colony back then.

  22. I guess I can get the whole big nose=Jews but seriously Jennifer Grey was that a good reason to hack away at your beautiful face, oy what a sheina yiddishe punam!
    If you want to see antisemitic check out Star Trek TNG, seriously the Ferengi the very first and intended main bad guy against the good, tall, brave, white, human, communist Federation, swap big nose with big ears, short, sexist, money grubbing guys with a religion of studying volumes on how to acquire and keep gold!!!

      1. You know that the Ferengi were meant to depict 20th century humans?

        Governance by monarchal pyramidal protection racket which officially endorses fraudulent business practices that would give Michael Corleone pause.

        Ferengi Alliance exercises a universal monopoly over all trade rights of all Ferengi and disallows any private enterprise competition with the corporate theocracy.

        Feudalistic franchises enforced by autocratic bureaucracies which fund themselves by levying arbitrary taxes on a per petitioner basis.

        Claim to be capitalists while simultaneously opposing the only actual anarcho-capitalist free market economy in television/movie history, namely the Federation.

        Yup, I have seen the Ferengi and they are us.

  23. When you work as a CNRS researcher ou anything similar in France, you have to produce at least one thing any administrative year to keep your chair and your desk, that’s why sometimes you found incredibly interessing things like that :-)

  24. I always thought the Smurfs were communists and the Snorks represented capitalism what with their clams.

    They should have a cold war.

      1. Should I be embarrassed to admit I’ve seen this?

        No. Never be embarrassed about watching Robot Chicken.

  25. Thirty years ago, I knew a high school kid– a small town, East Texas high school kid — who pretty much said the same thing, that Smurfs were little Nazi bastards.

    So, Mr. Buéno, go ahead with that cutting-edge social critique.

    Now tell me the sky is up.

  26. I wasn’t allowed to watch The Smurfs. My mother believed they were satanic.

    She was wrong.

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