The Help Desk: Tintin is a racist and I don't know what to do about it

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to

Dear Cienna,

I absolutely love Tintin. I have since I was a kid, and still just fall for his outrageous antics. But oh my god, is it racist. So horrible! And, you know, all about white conquest. Do I have to give him up?

Minnie, Belltown

Dear Minnie,

Let's not be histrionic. Lewis Carroll was a monogamous pedophile, Flannery O'Connor was a devout Catholic and Ayn Rand claimed to be human. Even beloved children’s entertainer Ernest Hemingway believed that women have more holes for plugging than spiders have eyes, an old-fashioned but tenacious belief that has been empirically proven untrue without the aid of a high-powered drill.

My point is, if you start eliminating books, ideas, and people whose views make you uncomfortable, what's left? Whale sounds, cottage cheese, and more corpses than a bullfighting birthday party, that’s what.

Sure, Tintin is racist. It's certainly not the most racist thing to come out of 20th century entertainment, and even as it makes contemporary, less racist (fingers crossed) audiences uncomfortable, it's an important historical marker of the sentiment of the times. Ignoring our racist history doesn't erase racism, so feel free to keep cringing your way through Tintin in the Congo. And if you want to assuage your (presumably) white guilt, try tithing to a nonprofit group geared towards battling entrenched racism, groups like Dream Defenders or Black Youth Project 100.