A video released by the public radio station evokes the apology for colonialism and racism that is said to permeate the elephant king’s adventures. An analysis and a point of view that made right-wing personalities react.
A 5 minute video titled Babar, who are you really? published by France Culture on January 21 and relayed on its Twitter account made various right-wing personalities react. The public radio station indeed questions the racism and the apology for colonialism contained in the adventures of the elephant king.
After retracing the genesis of the hero of childhood and youth literature – imagined in 1930 by Cécile de Brunhoff, a “Parisian bourgeois” according to France Culture – the video indicates that “in the 1970s, researchers reread Babar and highlight certain problematic positions ”. Babar indeed tries to bring back the customs of the city in his forest, and the book Babar traveling would have contained in its first editions an “explicitly racist” passage: Africans were then depicted as “ugly wild cannibals”.
The anthropologist intervening in the video, Gilles Boëtsch, affirms that “Babar brings the good word in Africa and will build cities – Célesteville in particular – with the benchmarks of Western society. There is the theater with evenings inside with all the elephants in costumes, obviously it reminds of the colonizing populations, that’s obvious ”. He believes that “these children’s books are perhaps no longer necessarily for children today”, these contain “messages to convey to young people, consciously or unconsciously, in particular messages on the greatness of France , radiation ”.
The text of the video recognizes all the same that the authors of Babar “do not praise colonialism and racism” but “reproduce the codes of society” of the 1930s.
A “Neuneu deconstructionism” which “prepares censorship”?
The journalist from Figaro Eugénie Bastié made a mockery of France Culture’s approach. “Between that and Disney, neuneu deconstructionism even attacks the spirit of childhood,” she commented, referring to the blocking of certain Disney classics concerning children’s accounts on the Disney + platform.
Don’t laugh, there really are social scientists doing theses on “problematic positions” in Babar. Between that and Disney, Neuneu deconstructionism even attacks the spirit of childhood. https://t.co/UMB71AcsrH
– Eugénie Bastié (@EugenieBastie) January 21, 2021
Zohra Bitan, columnist on RMC on the show The Big Mouths considers for his part that Babar is “anchored in her time” and that those she describes as “fly-stuffers” must “leave us alone”. She also questioned the public status of France Culture, regretting “to see our taxes go into stupid questions”.
By dint of seeing our taxes go into stupid questions, we sometimes want to be able to choose what we pay them for! #Babar it’s anchored in its time and leave us alone, fly-stuffer 😳😳😳😂 @franceculturehttps://t.co/Qoqa73g3ud
– Zohra Bitan #SupportFDO 🇫🇷🇩🇿🇮🇱✝️☪️🕎 (@ZohraBitan) January 21, 2021
Senator Les Républicains (LR) of Bouches-du-Rhône Valérie Boyer wondered not without irony “who will be next”, after the “colonialist” Babar, and the “racists” Peter Pan, the Aristocats, and the Lady and the Tramp.
Julien Aubert, LR deputy for Vaucluse declared that he complained “the children of tomorrow, to whom we will explain that Scrooge is the symbol of capitalism, Asterix of nationalism and Babar of colonialism”. “I was reading Pif and I did not become a Communist!” he added.
I pity the children of tomorrow, to whom we will explain that Picsou is the symbol of capitalism, Asterix of nationalism and Babar of colonialism … I tremble for Becassine and Tintin … and yet, I read Pif and I did not become communist! @OserLaFrancehttps://t.co/coGoIQYlfo
– Julien Aubert (@ JulienAubert84) January 22, 2021
The former European deputy of the National Front Jean-Yves Le Gallou judged that the authors of the France Culture video “are preparing the ground for the censorship of Babar“.