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:
"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.""Smurfs accused of antisemitism and racism"
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.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.