The Smurfette (comic book) (French: La Schtroumpfette) is the third album of the original French-language The Smurfs comic series created by Pierre Culliford, known as Peyo. The story has also been made into an episode of the Smurfs animated cartoon show, where the only known significant difference is that Smurfette stays in the village for the rest of the show's run. Apart from the titular story, the album contains another story called The Hunger of the Smurfs (French: La Faim des Schtroumpfs).
- 1 Plot
- 2 In other media
- 3 Trivia
- 4 Controversies
- 5 List of Media Tropes Relating to Smurfette
- 6 Titles in languages other than English and French
- 7 References
Smurfette was created by the evil wizard Gargamel as a way of vengeance against the Smurfs, whom he despises. On page 5 of the comic, while searching for the most terrible way to make the Smurfs suffer, and after deciding that setting the whole forest on fire or casting a spell that makes “vines choke all vegetation and life” were not “cruel enough”, Gargamel declares, “No, I want something else! A fearsome spell that makes them beg for mercy!! A horrible curse… Oh! Yes… I’VE GOT IT! I’m going to send them a SMURFETTE!” After using several material components to create a Smurfette statuette, Gargamel searches for the incantation to magically animate the clay figurine he just modelled. He reads the following formula from his spell-book, to give the statuette “a feminine nature”:
- “A spring of flirtatiousness… A solid layer of non-objectivity… three crocodile tears… a bird-brain… powder of viper’s tongue… a carat of sneakiness… a handful of anger… a dash of lying tissue, transparent of course… a bushel of greediness… a quart of bad faith… one thimbleful of recklessness… a stroke of pride… pint of envy… some zest of sensitivity… a bit of foolishness and a bit of cunning, lots of volatility and lots of obstinacy… a candle burned at both ends…” At the end of this text the reader is directed to a footnote stating: “This text is the sole responsibility of the author of the spell-book “Magicae Formulae,” Beelzebub Editions.”
Smurfette with the Smurfs
Once Smurfette’s creation is completed, Gargamel sends Smurfette to the Smurf village in order to infiltrate them and create chaos in their community.
At first, the Smurfette created by Gargamel was designed following the Smurf male model, with the only variations of long black hair and a dress instead of pants. In the comic where she first appears, Gargamel’s Smurfette is perceived by the other Smurfs as annoying, ugly, useless, and unattractive. The Smurfs all hate her and the comic even illustrates at one point a Smurf dreaming that he choked her. To get rid of her, the Smurfs enact a prank to make Smurfette believe that she has gained weight (by rigging a scale, placing in a misshapen mirror, and making her listen to some nasty talk).
The prank results in Smurfette crying alone on her bed in complete despair. She tells Papa Smurf, who came to look after her: “I’m too fat! And I’m ugly! My hair looks just terrible! My complexion’s awful! Nothing looks good on me! I WANT TO DIE!!!” The following illustration shows Papa Smurf thinking: “There’s nothing wrong with her! I should smurf something to cheer her up!” However, this text was changed in the English translation from the original French version where Papa Smurf was instead thinking: “It’s true that she is not very pretty! ... We should smurf something for her!”
The subsequent action is the same in both English and French versions of the comic; Papa Smurf decides to help Smurfette, and performs a “plastic smurfery” on her (which was later changed in the English version to a “smurfification”). This operation changes Smurfette’s physical appearance from black hair to long wavy blond hair, from a male Smurf nose to smaller nose, from short to long eyelashes, from a plain white dress to a shorter ornate dress, and from male Smurf shoes to high heels. As soon as Papa Smurf finally shows transformed Smurfette to the other Smurfs, they are all portrayed as falling instantly in love with her.
Gargamel’s Scheme is Revealed
After Smurfette’s physical transformation, all the Smurfs are mesmerized by Smurfette’s appearance, and, as a result, become distracted, easy to manipulate, and goofy. They start asking Smurfette on dates, offering her gifts, and competing with each other to get her attention. Eventually jealousy between them creates chaos and violence in the village. Smurfette then uses her charm to convince Poet Smurf to open the floodgate of a dam the Smurfs constructed on a nearby river. The water starts flowing out and Poet Smurf can’t close the floodgate back. This has the effect of flooding the entire Smurf village. When Papa Smurf discovers what happened, he tells Smurfette that everything has been wrong since she arrived. Furious, Smurfette answers him that she will go back to Gargamel’s home.
Smurfette Is Put on Trial
When the Smurfs hear that Smurfette came from Gargamel’s home, Papa Smurf decide to arrest her and place her on trial. Brainy Smurf is chosen to be the prosecuting attorney, and Jokey Smurf to be the defense attorney. Jokey Smurf’s defense is that the Smurfette created by Gargamel did not have “heavenly eyes”, “silken hair”, and an “adorable nose”. He declares that Papa Smurf is the true responsible party since it is him who made her how she is now, and able to charm the Smurfs. The Smurfs jury declares her innocent and they all leave the trial happy.
Smurfette Leaves the Village
However, the Smurfs soon start arguing again to know who will dance with her first. Smurfette can't stand the Smurfs fighting each other for her anymore, and she decides to leave the village indefinitely. In a note she leaves behind, she writes that she might “come back one day.”
Papa Smurf’s Revenge
To get his revenge from Gargamel, Papa Smurf decides to fabricate a human equivalent of Smurfette and to send her to Gargamel’s home. The ending picture shows Gargamel fleeing the woman Papa Smurf created, shouting that he will get his revenge.
The Hunger of the Smurfs
Winter is near and the Smurfs are gathering food. But days after the winter comes, the food storage is destroyed in a fire. To survive, they are forced to leave the village and find a place where they can feed themselves. After long days journeying in the cold wilderness, they find a human castle where its lord is living alone after losing all his fortune. Trying to find remaining food, they stumble on a secret room of jewels. They share their discovery with the lord, who can then buy food for them. The Smurfs are then able to go back to the village.
In other media
When the Smurfette story was adapted for the cartoon show, the “plastic smurfery” was moved after the dam incident and the subsequent trial. With the trial, all the Smurfs are depicted as angrily well aware of Smurfette's treachery and change their minds only when she confesses that she is a pawn of Gargamel.
Some time after Smurfette gets her new look, Gargamel contacts her and after noting that she's changed, he tells her that he can help her repay the Smurfs with a surprise party by the big oak tree. Of course, it turns out to be a trap. Fortunately, Smurfette arrives late and after discovering that she had been tricked, she disguises herself as a male Smurf, rescues the other Smurfs, and defeats Gargamel. The episode ends with Gargamel running away from the human woman the Smurfs created while Smurfette, with her loyalty now clearly established, is fully welcomed in the Smurf community.
- In this album it is stated how Grouchy Smurf became the smurf he is today - he was the first one was stung by the infected fly (in the album 'the Black Smurfs'), and although healed from the poison, his personality never fully recovered.
Criticisms of Smurfette’s Creation Narrative
Writers criticize the text of Gargamel’s formula to create Smurfette for its misogynistic depiction of so-called feminine nature. Didier Pasamonik even declares in an article that he wrote on Actua BD that it is “the most misogynist statement of the history of graphic novels!”
Criticisms of the Male-to-Female Ratio (The Smurfette Principle)
Many critics have denounced the gender representation ratio in The Smurfs comics, cartoons, and movies. In fact, the first The Smurfs movie itself mocks this imbalance when Gargamel’s character makes fun of Papa Smurf, satirizing, "I'm Papa Smurf . . . and [I] live in the forest with 99 sons and one daughter! Nothing weird about that, no no, totally normal!"
Smurfette is, at first, the only female character in a village of one hundred Smurfs; a second female Smurf was added twenty-one years later in the comic book Les P’tits Schtroumpfs. The gender imbalance was famously criticized first by author Katha Pollitt in an article that she wrote for The New York Times in 1991, "Hers; The Smurfette Principle." It is in this article that Pollitt coined the name for the media trope that she called The Smurfette Principle, which she defined as "a group of male buddies [that] will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined." The Smurfette Principle has been reused to describe the disparity of gender representation in many types of media since 1991. Katha Pollitt further critiqued Smurfette as an example of another trope, which TV Tropes refers now as Men Are Generic, Women Are Special.
Video game critic Anita Sarkeesian refers to Smurfette in episode 3 of her webseries Tropes vs. Women. She explains and critiques the narrative of Smurfette’s creation and the origin of the trope named after the character. Sarkeesian continues her presentation, relating The Smurfette Principle trope to numerous other media products, principally Hollywood movies and television shows. She also explains that The Smurfette Principle is "an alternative name for Tokenism or the Token Minority which is the inclusion of one cast member from a marginalized group in an otherwise, white, straight male ensemble."
The website TV Tropes presents a detailed description of The Smurfette Principle, using Smurfette as an example of a "Male-to-Female ratio" problem. TV Tropes also refers to Smurfette for another media trope called Territorial Smurfette.
Some argue that The Smurfette Principle in The Smurfs is compensated for by Smurfette’s strong presence and her capacity to solve problems. However, others refer to this compensation as another trope called Minority Feisty, or, in this case, Prominent Feisty Female Character, a trope in media where strong attributes are given to one or a few characters representing a minority in an attempt to counterweight the disproportion of their representation ratio.
Criticisms of Smurfette’s Personality and Physical Depiction
In his analysis, graphic novelist J Marc Schmidt talks about the problems raised by Smurfette’s appearance and behaviors. Alike other critics, Schmidt condemns the manner in which many of Smurfette’s attributes are negative female stereotypes. He first describes a problem with Smurfette’s name, as she is the only Smurf character whose name is only related to her gender. All the other Smurf characters have names referring to their occupation or their personality, but Smurfette’s main occupation is "being the woman." Schmidt also frames the idea that Smurfette is portrayed as an "object" for the male gaze.
Criticisms of Peyo’s Intent Regarding Smurfette
Sociologist Jeffery P. Dennis wrote a detailed analysis of children’s cartoons featuring homosexual couples and relationships. In his article, he hypothesized that the character of Smurfette was only introduced into the story "to provide an object for the Smurfs' heterosexual desire and defuse conjectures that they might be 'really' gay."
Thierry Culliford, the son of Peyo, declared that his "father had no specific message," while he was answering a question concerning Smurfette’s exclusivity in an interview. However, different information was revealed in a biography of Peyo written in 2003 by Belgian journalist and film critic Hugues Dayez. Many have used this book to cite a famous meeting that Peyo had with the children programs’ executives of Hanna-Barbera studios at NBC, discussing The Smurfs cartoon. Peyo was invited to explain to Hanna-Barbera’s team how he sees his characters. Yvan Delporte, Peyo’s collaborator, helped as an interpreter between Peyo, who spoke French, and Hanna-Barbera’s team, who spoke English. Delporte recalled, "All was very simple until we had to define Smurfette. Peyo started by saying that she was 'very feminine'. They asked him to elaborate on this thought. So he continued, 'She is pretty, blonde, she has all qualities of women…' Knowing the state of feminism in USA, I tactfully translated with 'all good qualities.' I was betting on the fact that Peyo did not understand what I was saying [in English], and the Americans [did not understand] what [Peyo] wanted to say. Obviously, they asked him to explain further. [Peyo] continued his idea, 'She seduces, she uses trickery rather than force to get what she wants. She is unable to tell a joke without blowing the punch line. She is a blabbermouth but only talks about superficial things. She is continually causing enormous problems for the Smurfs, but she always manages to blame it on someone else…' I desperately tried to minimize how misogynistic this description sounded, but then one interlocutor asked him, 'But she still could, when the Smurfs are in danger, take decisions that would save them?' When I translated this question to Peyo he looked at me astonished [and said], 'Come on now, don’t tell me they want to make her a gym teacher?' I obviously did not translate this last comment."
On the fan website BlueBuddies, a page on Smurfette reports parts of this interview, examining if Peyo’s intentions regarding Smurfette were misogynistic. The analysis concluded, "Peyo appears to be misogynist." However, the author continues by explaining that the American studio would certainly not have sacrificed their moral values simply to follow Peyo’s intent, and that Smurfette was presented in the American show as a capable character that "can indeed be a superhero." Nevertheless, this notion has also been criticized and can be linked to the previously discussed tropes of the Minority Feisty, and the Prominent Feisty Female Character, a "modern take on The Smurfette Principle", according to the website TV Tropes.
List of Media Tropes Relating to Smurfette
- The Smurfette Principle
- Territorial Smurfette
- Men Act, Women Are
- Men Are Generic, Women Are Special
- Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty
- Minority Feisty
- Never a Self-Made Woman
- Prominent Feisty Female Character
- Token Minority
Titles in languages other than English and French
- De Smurfin - Dutch/ Flemish
- La Pitufina - Spanish
- Smerfetka - Polish
- Штрумфета - Macedonian
- La Puffetta - Italian
- Şirine - Turkish
- Smurffiina - Finnish
- Peyo (w, a). The Smurfette (1967), Belgium: Dupuis, ISBN9782800101101
- Peyo (w, a). La Schtroumpfette (1967), Belgium: Dupuis, ISBN9782800101101
- Anita Sarkeesian (2011-04-21). Tropes vs. Women: #3 The Smurfette Principle (Web Series). Feminist Frequency.
- Santoso, Alex (2008-01-17), 10 Smurfiest Facts About The Smurfs, Neatorama, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Schmidt, J Marc (2011-06-02), Socio-Political Themes in The Smurfs, Vivid Scribe, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Bacon, Annie (2010-05-10), Dans la lignée de la poursuite contre Tintin au Congo… avez-vous relu la Schtroumpfette récemment?, Roman Jeunesse, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Pasamonik, Didier (2011-05-30), Antoine Bueno : " Le village des Schtroumpfs est un archétype d’utopie totalitaire emprunt de nazisme et de stalinisme. ", retrieved 2014-12-09
- Hamon, Auriane (2014-03-17), De quels livres jeunesse faut-il se méfier? Guide de non-achat, Rubiks Culture, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Pasamonik, Didier (2010-04-19), La Schtroumpfette est l’avenir du Schtroumpf (air connu), Actua BD, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Pollitt, Katha (1991-04-07). "Hers; The Smurfette Principle". The New York Times (New York: The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2014-12-09.
- The Smurfette Principle, TV Tropes, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Prominent Feisty Female Character, TV Tropes, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Cohen, Philip (2013-08-09), The Banal, Insidious Sexism of Smurfette, The Atlantic, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Graham, Mariruth, Smurfy Sexism: Drawn with a Biased Hand, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Richards, Jason (2011-07-28), The Problem With Smurfette, The Atlantic, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Olson, Cheryl (2014-05-20), The persistence of "Smurfette Syndrome", Dr. Cheryl Olson, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Gosnell, Raja (Director) (2011). The Smurfs  (Cinema production). United States.
- Men Are Generic, Women Are Special, TV Tropes, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Territorial Smurfette, TV Tropes, retrieved 2014-12-09
- SMURFETTE ON TRIAL - IS SMURFETTE SEXIST?, Blue Buddies, retrieved 2014-12-09
- The Smurfette principle ‘evolves’ into the Minority Feisty, Real Girl, 2013-01-28, retrieved 2014-12-09
- The curse of the Minority Feisty in kids movies, Real Girl, 2012-02-02, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Dennis, Jeffery P. (2003), Queertoons, Soundscapes, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Pasamonik, Didier (2011-07-13), Thierry Culliford (Studio Peyo) : " Les Schtroumpfs doivent être lus au premier degré. ", Actua BD, retrieved 2014-12-09
- Dayez, Hugues (2003), Peyo L'enchanteur, Niffle, p. 190, ISBN 2-87393-046-2