This theory [about Smurfs being Communists] - is it serious or is it a joke?

There’s this wacky theory that the Smurfs are comunist poison for the children:

Now it’s an elaborate piece of nonsense, but I can’t figure out whether the writer was a paranoid mccarthyanist or just having a laugh at the expense of antisocialist conspiracy theories.
Does that theory apply here that you can’t parody extremists because the difference will not become clear?

In other words: is this guy serious? :confused:
Possibly it is not for GQ but I leave that to the appropriate people to decide or correct.

I can’t respond in a GQ relevant way to your original question. But I can point out that it is a perfectly good example of Poe’s Law. All it takes is for one person to be confused.

Ah yes, that was the law I was thinking of earlier. Although, doesn’t Life of Brian partially disprove that theory?

The Smurfs were invented by a Belgian, who was likely more group-oriented than many Americans. To Americans with the Old West notion that every person is for himself only, that any government or sharing is bad, well, I suppose that the more community-oriented European notions will be labelled “communist” or “socialist” and thus discaded.

In short: calling it “communist” is nonsense. Calling it “socialist” is probably more on target, but I’m not sure that has any significant meaning. Smurfs live in a sort of “hippie” commune, I suppose, that’s pretty much back-to-nature. So, one could argue that their environmentalists, as well.

In short, if the author was serious, he’s distorting beyond credence.

Yes, I know all that. Besides, children’s tv almost never cares about money because children don’t get excited by it.
But was the writer (the theory’s writer i mean) serious?

Just goes to show that with sufficient abstraction, you can find the whatever you want wherever you look, even socialist men under a red father.

Based on the title, the Smurfs are spreading distention. I know the little dudes had fat little bellies, but I don’ t think they were trying to promote overeating.

Wouldn’t their Liberty Caps suggest a more republican bent?

You beat me to it!

Looks like an obvious parody to me. I don’t think an essay that contains the phrase “Scooby Doo … had long outlived its usefulness as a tool of totalitarian social control” is intended to be taken seriously.

In any case, this is probably better suited for Cafe Society than GQ. I have also edited the title to indicate the subject.

General Questions Moderator

Rhat’s rut ru rink, Romrade.

Once upon a time, I wrote a staff report on this topic. It’s currently not in the online archive, so I’ll post the draft version here:


When I was an undergrad, I had a conversation with a grad student about our favorite cartoons. When I mentioned the Smurfs, she flipped out, said they were anti-Semitic, advocated Communism, and gave me the cold shoulder for the rest of the semester. What gives?



SDSTAFF Gfactor (with assistance from Valteron) reply:

*Papa Smurf Character: [The Smurfs have] got their little colony group together where everybody hangs in their one little group and everybody’s right together and everything flows real well. But anytime any one of them tries to take off and do their own little individual trip . . . . that’s when Mr. Evil comes down off the hill and puts the stops on them.

Scooby Doo Philosopher Character: Smurfs are blue and . . . Smurfs are getting kids used to seeing blue people . . . kids see blue people, they like, relate to Smurfs, and they relate to blue people when Krishna comes about.

        *Slacker* (1991)

A semiotic tour de force, if we’ve ever seen one. There are several conspiracy theories about the Smurfs but none of them makes much sense. Do you suppose the Smurfs are anti-Semitic bit was the grad student’s way of . . . dumping you? Well, we might as well start at the beginning.

The Smurfs were born in 1958, when cartoonist Pierre Culliford, known as Peyo, gave them a cameo appearance in his popular Medieval cartoon series, Johan et Pirlouit, in Le Journal de Spirou. The episode was called, “La Flûte à six Trous.” According to his publisher’s website, the Schtroumpfs, as they were called, were intended to be “secondary characters who were only to appear in the single episode.” Peyo had introduced the Johan character in 1952 and added Pirlouit (or Peewit, in English) in 1954. So the series was pretty well-established by 1958.

The Schtroumpfs caught on, and got their own series. Peyo who had other successful cartoons, eventually hired family members to run his empire. In America, the Schtroumpfs became the Smurfs, and became the phenomenon we know today.

Ok. So what are the theories?

The movie Slacker (1991) depicts a college student interpreting the Smurfs as either a totalitarian utopia or a method of preparing children for the arrival of Krishna, by introducing them to blue people. This is probably the first Smurf conspiracy theory, and it was pretty clearly intended as sophomoric crap. The actors who explain it were, in real life, so drunk they could barely spit out their lines.

Another theory, most eloquently explained by Victor Fuste in the Stanford Daily has the Smurfs as “a child-oriented representation of a Marxist community.” The evidence for the theory includes:

  1. Papa Smurf looks like Karl Marx and wears red.
  2. The Smurfs live in an egalitarian community where property is communal.
  3. Gargamel as an example of the “other” life. “His quest to eat the Smurfs - hardly a good source of nutrition - shows how capitalists find nothing as gratifying as annihilating a truly idyllic commune.”
  4. S.M.U.R.F. stands for either “Socialist Men Under Red Father” or “Soviet Men Under Red Father.”

Obviously that last one ignores the fact that they didn’t start out as Smurfs; they were Schtroumpfs, which has a few extra letters. Beyond that, there’s no evidence that these parallels were intentional. The closest we could find was in Peyo’s biography. Apparently, when Peyo was negotiating with NBC and Hanna-Barbera for the production of animated Smurfs on American TV, he said he did not want them “Americanized” into “gum-chewers and Coca-cola drinkers”. This may indicate some contempt for popular American culture, but it hardly qualifies him as a Communist.

Another set of theories has the Smurfs has them as a source of anti-Semitic commentary. Gargamel is said to portray some typical anti-Semitic stereotypes of jews. He has a hooked nose, for example. But Peyo certainly couldn’t have intended to villify jews when he created the Smurfs. Remember, he only intended to do the one episode with the Smurfs, and Gargamel wasn’t in it.

Regarding, the Smurfs-as-KKK idea, the caps the Smurfs wear would not be associated with the KKK in the mind of any artist in Europe. They are Phrygian Caps[] Phrygian caps were a symbol of liberty in both the French and American revolutions and can still be found in seals and patriotic images of both countries. Their caps don’t look much like Klan hoods[]. Moreover, the Klan is a white supremacist organization. It would be odd for the Klan to make blue people the good guys in its propaganda.

On the other hand there is one theory that does stand up. The Smurfs certainly incorporate some significant gender-stereotypes in the character of Smurfette. And it was on purpose. In a recent biography of Peyo, Hugues Dayez relates a story about Peyo’s negotiations with NBC about the upcoming animated cartoon of the Smurfs. Peyo apparently spoke little or no English. When the discussion turned to Smurfette, Peyo’s interpreter explains:

(translation by Valteron)

That’s pretty damning, if you ask us. The stuff about Marxism, anti-semitism, and KKK symbolism, simply lacks similar support.


Belgium Federal Portal, Peyo (Pierre Culliford, 1928-1992), Cartoonist:

Bollut, Gersende, Peyo l’enchanteur, FRAMES: le webzine de l’animation et du cinéma:

Borofsky, Nate, “‘Sister’ on the Sidelines: ‘The Smurfs’ and the Antifeminist Backlash on Saturday Morning,” 1996:

Dupuis Publishing, Les Schtroumpfs:

Dupuis Publishing, Peyo:

Fuste, Victor, “Karl Marx and Papa Smurf: Separated at birth?” The Stanford Daily, January 28, 2005:

Haines, Jimmy, “Papa smurf is a communist!” — debunking popular myths, Bright Red, 2001:, The Smurf Conspiracy Archives:

Lambiek Comiclopedia, Peyo (Pierre Culliford):

Schmidt, J. Marc, Socio-Political Themes in The Smurfs, 1998:, Peyo, the father of the Smurfs, 1998:[/spoiler]

And here is the comments thread about the staff report:

I skimmed the second Smurf essay, but this stuff can’t be taken seriously.

Pretty good, Gfactor, except for this:

Whatever Peyo had in mind when he first created the characters is not the issue. The question is what were the creators of the show intending? They are the ones who created Gargamel, and the ones who wrote the weekly episodes. So Peyo’s original concept doesn’t fully answer the question.

I shall never think of the Smurfs in the same way having read the cartoon strip below. It actually made me lust after Smurfette!

WARNING: Definitely NSFW

Whew, that was a close run thing. I edited the previous post the highlight the warning in red, reposted it and realized to my horror that it had parsed the link. Apparently when you edit you need to untick the parse box again. I didn’t know that! All fine now, thank god. This one would give your boss a heart attack. :slight_smile:

Speaking of NSFW Smurfs: have you seen the Lost Episode?

Gargamel was actually created by Peyo. He is in the early Smurf stories (which are, remember, a spinoff from Johan and Pirlouit in which he didn’t appear). But I believe he is pretty much the stereotype of the fantasy medieval witch or evil sorcerer. This stereotype might include some stereotypically Jewish characteristics (a hooked nose, for example), but I don’t believe Peyo did it consciously. Gargamel is just an evil wizard.

Also the Passover story where he smeared Smurf blood over his door, and couldn’t explain why his matzoh had a blue tinge.