As Papercutz begins its multi-year campaign to rewrite Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge to make for a more modern, American translation of Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s comics, this is a good time to look back at the 38 albums in the series and make suggestions.
A series like Asterix that dates back to the 1950s is bound to have some material in it that doesn’t fly anymore. I’ve compiled a few panels here for Papercutz’s consideration.
If they want to get these books into schools, for example, they’re going to have their work cut out for them in cleaning things up.
Playing with Language
The first one everyone thinks of is Getafix’s name. It comes too close to condoning drug dealing, right? (Please drip that sentence with an appropriate amount of sarcasm.)
Comparing the Magic Potion maker with a drug dealer is just beyond the pale in these post-Just Say No days.
Once they get his name changed, they can start looking at his dialog. This example is from very late in the series, but still:
I don’t know how they work around it. Redrawing the donkey might be in order here.
In many ways, this is almost the least of Asterix’s offenses.
Can we refer to a man as being “voluptuous”? Do we want to use such a big word, and do we want to use a word that generally is used to denote the size and curviness of a woman? Is it too “suggestive” for young American ears? And are we fat-shaming the military leader?
Also, is the “ave” salute too close to a “Heil, Hitler” salute? Do all outstretched Roman arms need to be redrawn or repositioned somehow?
I wish I was joking about this, but you know how things work in this day and age… Speaking of which:
Asterix contains fat jokes. Such casual fatphobic (I saw that word used on Twitter the other day, so it must be real) humor is to be shunned. Obelix has a very positive attitude towards his body image. We should stop making a running gag of all the times supporting characters accidentally trip over this land mine.
All jokes based on wordplay in and around “fat” need to be removed.
In this day and age of greater mental health awareness, we should be very wary about using the “C” word in any context. I suggest replacing it with “confused,” perhaps.
Likewise, Bone’s use of “Stupid” in relation to his rat creatures diminishes the rats’ mental capactiy, which might be a genetic predisposition beyond their control. Why bully the rat creatures like that?
I suspect Valuaddetax will be translated to something the school children of today will better understand. I’m predicting Carboncreditax.
Maybe you haven’t seen the shambles that Common Core has wreaked upon math education in this country today, but “Squaronthehypotenus” will never fly. Nobody would get it.
I originally showed this panel in my review of “Asterix and Caesar’s Gift” because the background disappears in the third panel. I show it today because we’re not allowed to say “foreigner” anymore.
Of course, this is Geriatrix, the old man who is saying it. It’s in his character to use that word, even by today’s standards. But, you know how language goes now. I don’t expect to see this one in the new translation.
Here’s a reference to the British Labour party. That one is going away for sure. What will it be replaced by? Will it still be a political reference at all?
By the way, those characters speaking in the British accent are actually British. So it makes sense for them to make such references and speak with the extra “U” letters…
Pop Culture References
Kids today don’t know who the Beatles are. Papercutz will want to label this group as being a Korean pop boy band to appeal to their new, younger audience.
Here’s a photo I took recently so you can see the similarities:
Honestly, if Uderzo drew characters that stiff and vacant in the eyes, Asterix never would have made it past volume 1.
Times Change, Attitudes Change, and Holy Crap They Did That AFTER 2000?!?
This might be a good argument for the recoloring of the book, too, actually… And the accent of this alien creature will also need to go.
Honestly, this is the book I most look forward to seeing how Papercutz attempts to translate their way around. It’s “Asterix and the Secret Weapon,” the one in which — spoilers! — Asterix defeats a fierce squadron of Roman warrior woman by setting up a shopping mall for them.
I’m not kidding. That’s the book’s punchline.
It’s either brilliant satire or cringeworthy misogyny. I’ve read both opinions and, I have to admit, I tend to think it’s mostly in the latter category.
Wait, you thought “Getafix” was bad?!? Wait til you see “Fulliautomatix” or his father, “Semiautomatix”. I assume Papercutz will replace all gun humor in the series. That might be worse than “Getafix.”
I Don’t Care What It Takes…
…can we just delete this moment entirely?!?
There’s a lot of wine in the “Asterix” series, and even references to beer. We can’t acknowledge the existence of those beverages to school-age children. They’ll have to go.
This exclamation, at least, is easily changed to “ROOT BEER!”
Chlidren of the 80s: Remember the video game, “Tapper”, and how it went from being beer-centric to root beer-centric? This is that all over again.
That’ll make this whole sequence very tricky…
And good luck explaining this guy… He would have been played by Foster Brooks in a live action Asterix movie in the 1970s. Today, he’s a warning against conspicuous consumption.
Good Luck to Papercutz
They have their work cut out for them. They can’t hope to appease the old school Asterix fans while targeting new Asterix fans. They can’t appeal to younger fans using older references and socially indelicate language. It’s quite the pickle.