Holy Mother of Moomin!

Moominmamma, Moominpappa, Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden

Without getting too much into how I feel about organised religion, I wanted to take a moment to address some of the points made on The Landover Baptist Church Forum, where a certain Alphonse Alban claims that the Moomins are one step away from being Satan’s concubine. My first response was of course, wtf?! Is he joking? On second glance, I realised that the sorry little bugger was serious and so I thought, blasphemy! Where do people come up with this nonsense?

Before I continue, I should clarify that I don’t know much about this site and don’t care to know more. I’m not a member of this forum and neither is my friend who pointed me to it. I thought it ironic that this Alphonse Alban character had a Moomin icon next to his name (among many others), which I thought meant he was a Moomin-lover but it somehow symbolises ‘ex-Scandinavian’. Erm…okay?

I’m not sure what happened to Alban to make him so bitter toward Tove Jannson and her work, but for someone who hates the Moomins he sure has spent a lot of time researching them and seems to know them well enough to put his own spin on what he thinks they represent.  Perhaps he had a falling out with Snorkmaiden and is jealous of Moomin? In any case, I think he’s a bit mental.

I strongly urge you to read his comical rundown of the inhabitants of Moominvalley. But it’s not just his absurd interpretation of the Moomins that bothers me. He also makes some references toward Japanese people and the tragic events of 11 March, as if to say their appreciation for Moomin contributed to the cause of the earthquake and tsunami:

“Recent display of God’s wrath upon Japan, may launch waves of illegal chink immigrants on your way. As they are from Japan, there is big risk that they have been infected by Moomins, and it is vital that you recognize the symptoms”.

There’s no point in arguing with a raving lunatic but come on, let’s not go there. However, if you must, at least get your racial slurs right. But what’s scarier is if you look at the responses, there are actually people that agree with him! Shudder.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can over-analyse the crap out of innocent children’s stories (i.e. Winnie-the-Pooh) and try to villainise the characters. I thought it fitting to leave you with my favourite quote from Mr. Alban, which highlights how deluded he is.

“So heed my warning. Stay way from Moomins! They have only been designed to lead children into damnation. If you ever come by ANY Moomin related material, you must burn it immediately, but use gloves before touching Moomin products. So great is the evil behind the Moomins that even short exposure can be harmful to your soul”.

What has this tormented soul taught me about my own beliefs, cultural heritage, and love for Moomin? Not much, to be honest. He gave me a good laugh and made me even more mad for Moomin. So to all Moomin fans, heed my words! Embrace your love for Moomins! If you ever get your hands on ANY Moomin related material, you must blog and tweet about it and share it with the world!

Could America Ever Love Moomin?

Moomins have a lucrative niche publishing and licensing market predominantly in Nordic countries, Japan and of course Britain. But why haven’t Moomins entered the American market? I’m tempted to give a simple answer by linking this back to a question I posed a few posts ago and say it’s because Americans are (generally perceived to be) stupid and will never understand Moomin, but that wouldn’t be fair.

Obviously it has more to do with business marketing and not level of intelligence but if other countries, all unique in their own accord, can love Moomin why can’t America?  Moomin books were sold in the U.S. half a century ago but the firm currently has no licensees and animations have aired only in Hawaii.  It is rumoured that there was once a Moomin Shop in Honolulu, which opened around 2008 but that has since closed.

In Japan, Moomin plays into a cultural appreciation for cute (kawaii) things and Japanese adults will without hesitation buy as much as a child will. There is no shame in expressing how cute something is, whether if you’re male or female. Why should there be? In addition, Japan has always embraced foreign culture and is known for adopting what it likes and making it their own, not to mention evidence in all the foreign loan words incorporated into modern Japanese language.

Those points alone may explain exactly why Moomin still hasn’t taken America by storm. The Moomins are curious, bohemian, generous and may be a bit more eccentric than the American mainstream. They don’t use mobile phones and live simple lives, yet every day holds a new adventure.  And as shows like American Idol and The Voice prove time and time again, if you’re quirky and different chances are you won’t be embraced by the masses.  In terms of profit–you won’t be worth the risk.

Then there is the fact that Moomins are culturally different from current and historical American characters, such as Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh (yes, we know that classic Pooh is originally British but we refer to Disney’s Americanised animation of the cuddly honey loving bear), both in the way they look and the content of their stories. Disney is mainly marketed toward children. Whereas the stories from Moominvalley are not all suited to children. Foreign things, people, or food have never been readily welcomed by mainstream America. Accepted, perhaps after modification, but never quite in its authentic form.

It seems there are Moomin fans in the U.S. but they must search high and low to keep up to date with the latest Moomin goods and news. So could America ever love Moomin? I’m not confident that it could, though I would love if one day everyone in the world could grow to love the Moomins.  The world would certainly be a better place!