Tintin and the Diamond Smugglers

1 minute read

The other day, while watching some child’s television show (I think it was the Power Puff Girls), for some reason I was thinking of Herge’s Tintin stories and remember seeing part of the “Crab of the Golden Claws” on Nickelodeon. The story as I remember it, dealt with Opium smugglers, which as a young and impressionable Tintin reader (Herge wrote the Tintin stories as comics) knew were bad people. It was obvious, first from his treatment of the druggies and criminal activities in The Blue Lotus and then in the cowardly way the smugglers had to sneak around, trying to arrange “accidents.” They were true wretches, skulking around afraid of discovery.

On Nickelodeon, the criminals were just as bad, but they did not deal in drugs, instead they smuggled diamonds. Diamonds! What the hell was the point of smuggling diamonds? Opium was clearly evil. (Tintin always knew what was just. If he fought against forgers and dope smugglers and human traffickers and gun runners and banana republics and monopolizing oil magnates, then, by gum, those people were bad people.) But Nickelodeon is afraid to take a stand against drugs for the mere fear that mentioning drugs, acknowledging their existence even, is to be culpable of glamorizing drugs and driving children to them.1 So the evil is changed to a minor evil and the good fight that Tintin fought becomes merely an adventure (Although Tintin did sometimes go on pure adventures that played out in other ways than as a fight against the evils of the world, he was wholly involved in that fight.

I worry now that my daughter may not recognize that fact since his fight is being diluted over time by other pressures.

  1. Although now that I write this, I recall that diamond smuggling is an evil in southern Africa and that smuggled diamonds tend to subsidize gun running—but how does the smuggled diamond clearly affect me? How can I tell a smuggled diamond from a legit diamond from South Africa? Drugs still are far more damning than diamonds. ↩︎