Far and away my favorite of the Tintin's thus far. The Blue Lotus
brings closure to the action in [b:Cigars of the Pharaoh|146122|Cigars of the Pharaoh (Tintin, #4)|Hergé|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327959128s/146122.jpg|141019]. And for the first time, Tintin stands up to racist behavior: "Your conduct is disgraceful sir!" And an exchange later in the story seeks to dispel stereotypes between Chinese and European people:
CHANG: "I thought all white devils were wicked, like those who killed my grandfather and grandmother long ago. During the War of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, my father said."
TINTIN: "The Boxer Rebellion, yes. But Chang, all white men aren't wicked. You see, different people's don't know enough about each other. Lots of Europeans still believe that all Chinese are cunning and cruel and wear pigtails, are always inventing tortures, and eating rotten eggs and swallows' nests. The same stupid Europeans are quite convinced that all Chinese have tiny feet, and even now little Chinese girls suffer agonies with bandages designed to prevent their feet developing normally. They're even convinced that Chinese rivers are full of unwanted babies, thrown in when they are born. So you see Chang, that's what lots of people believe about China!"
CHANG: "They must be crazy people in your country!!"
I've accused Herge of dealing in stereotypes himself. It's nice to see his change-of-heart here.
Are The Adventures of Tintin
really for children? Certainly not young ones. The Blue Lotus is the name of an opium den. Tintin gets shot, people are poisoned to the point of madness, a villain commits hara-kari, dead and bloated cows float by in the flooded Yangtze, harsh racist language crops up periodically, the threat of beheading remains throughout. Wait till late elementary school years to expose your little ones to this series.
One last comment on the setting of events in The Blue Lotus
--the Japanese and international occupation of China/Shanghai in 1931. Yet another historical happening I know little to nothing about! There's the blowing up of the South Manchurian railway by Japanese nationals and blamed on Chinese insurgents. This railroad sabotage was used by the Japanese to expand their presence in China (Tonkin Gulf, anyone?), and led to a dishonored Japan withdrawing from the League of Nations in 1933. Interesting stuff!
Herge has really redeemed himself here, I think. Anti-racism, political intrigue, historical relevance--all combine to make me much happier with The Adventures of Tintin