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A) Karl Marx

B) Papa Smurf

C) Both A and B

The correct answer is “C” — which is one of the reasons Australian essayist and teacher J. Marc Schmidt once referred to the Smurf village as a “Marxist utopia.”

“The workers own all the capital equally, and there is no upper class of owners/capitalists to oppress them,” wrote Mr. Schmidt, author of the book “Secrets of Pop Culture,” in an email. “Unlike real-life Marxist countries, the Smurfs managed this feat without resorting to totalitarianism or repressing personal freedom, so it is a utopia.”

More evidence: The Smurfs replace everyday nouns and verbs with the word “Smurf,” creating a dumbed-down, thought-controlling Newspeak lexicon to rival that of the totalitarian state in George Orwell’s “1984.” Papa Smurf wears red — the only Smurf to do so — a possible sign of party devotion and doctrinal purity. He also sports a thick white beard, much like another famous father figure: German philosopher Karl Marx, the granddaddy of communism.

For his part, the bespectacled, nitpicking Brainy Smurf bears a passing resemblance to Stalin’s more intellectual rival, Leon Trotsky, and often is ridiculed in the cartoon. The subliminal message? Knowledge is dangerous, because it makes you a potential dissident.

Then there’s the Smurfs’ nemesis, the genocidal human wizard Gargamel. Like any good capitalist, he isn’t interested in the destruction of the Smurfs per se; instead, he’s interested in capturing the Smurfs so he can turn them into gold.

“[Gargamel] desired to exploit the ‘workers’ (i.e., the Smurfs) and get rich for his own selfish reasons, without any regard for their well-being,” Mr. Schmidt wrote.

Greed is good; profit, his only motive. In later seasons of the cartoon, the evil wizard wants to eat the Smurfs, a potential metaphor for remorseless industrial capitalism devouring the unwitting proletariat.

Oh, and who is Gargamel’s sidekick? Azriel, a voracious tabby with a similar taste for the delectable little blue workin’ class heroes.

In other words: a literal fat cat.

All of the above was more than enough fodder for Parisian academic Antoine Bueno, who in June published a treatise on the topic, the aptly named “Little Blue Book.” In its 250 pages, the 33-year-old university lecturer argued that Smurf society represents a “totalitarian utopia drenched in Stalinism”; in subsequent interviews, he claimed the Smurfs also were racist, and that Gargamel was an anti-Semitic caricature.

Popular reaction was swift. And fierce. The same Smurf fans who approved of a 2005 UNICEF television ad that depicted the Smurf village being bombed by fighter jets — the better to raise money for ex-child soldiers in Africa — called Mr. Bueno’s book a disgrace. Thierry Culliford, son of the deceased Smurfs creator, called the author’s take “grotesque.”

In his YouTube video, Mr. Topham does Mr. Bueno one better, noting widespread Internet belief that “Smurf” is an acronym for “Socialist Men Under Red Father.”

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