Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Le Monde 100: Asterix the Gaul

It is odd to see how values perceived as a childhood can transform into adulthood.

I was absolutely obsessed with Asterix the Gaul as a child. I ransacked the Tintin bins at the library, looking for any new adventures of the French hero. The concept of Asterix is quite simple. Under the Pax Romana, the entire country of Gaul is subdued and put under the Roman system. All, except for one small village that was a hold-out, due to a special magic potion that gave them invincible strength in the face of the most powerful army in the world.

On the surface, it seems quite obvious that Asterix and his fellow cohorts are the heroes because they maintain their individualism. They do whatever they like in the face of the enormous pressure of the Roman empire. Like the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars or the Tea Party in Boston, they bear the virtues of the underdog. These were values I could relate to as a kid. David and Goliath. A no brainer.

Now, as an adult, I unearthed my old copies of Asterix as it is heralded by Le Monde as one of the most memorable books of the twentieth century. The striking thing about reading Asterix now is how this vigorous independence, the greatest asset of the rebellious village, is held above all other virtues. I can't  help but be reminded of ultra-libertarians, who want freedom above all else, even at the expense of peace.
Now, I understand that an occupying force is reason for resistance. But Asterix and his cohorts do come across as thugs who enjoy fighting for the sake of fighting.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! I loved Asterix & Obelix too. Haven't thought about them in years. But you are right. I wonder what current cultural theorists in France have to say about the series.