log in or register to remove this ad

 

How to Tell if Your Fun is Wrong

MGibster

Legend
In practice, however, better thinking about complex past figures is rarely the point. If it were, wielders of the injunction not to judge would not apply their counsel so selectively. They would, for example, be as concerned with positive as with negative judgments, as wary of celebration as they are of condemnation... The practical purpose of the injunction not to judge is not to refine public engagements with history; it is to reinforce established interpretations against the corrosive effects of criticism.
When the subject of Lovecraft's racism comes up I rarely find that it's meant to steer the conversation to better examine the complexities of a literary figure who had a profound influence on horror and role playing games. A few years back, it was often brought up to warn people unfamiliar with his work with what they might encounter. Some of his stories, like "Herbert West-Reanimator" and "The Horror at Red Hook" contain shockingly appalling language if one isn't prepared for it so warnings are appropriate. But more often these days Lovecraft's racism is brought up in an effort to dissuade people from reading his work or in some cases even acknowledging his influence. I'm surprised Call of Cthulhu hasn't been called out for being badwrongfun.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
There’s little doubt the future will view us all as abhorrent for things we view perfectly reasonable today. Some a little more abhorrent and some a little less so.

So IMHO, to be a little less abhorrent than others in your time is the only thing that matters as it’s those more virtuous than their peers that continuously push humankind closer to perfection - even if perfection is never truly obtainable.

That doesn’t absolve anyone from any time for any transgression, but it does help to keep things in perspective.

It is, of course, literally impossible for everyone to be ahead of their time. It then makes little sense to condemn anyone merely for failing to be ahead of their time. We should celebrate those who manage the trick.

On the flip side... let us be clear - some form of the Golden Rule has been in pretty much every major faith and philosophical system on the globe for at the past 1000 years! You get judged on how badly you hold up to that ideal, no matter what period you're from.
 

The only badwrongfun I can think of is a player whining because he can’t create a character not true to the setting. And by that I mean using eberon birthmarks in a greyhawk setting. Or something like playing an elf in a setting that doesn’t have elves like a good hyborian setting. That’s my opinion.
I'd expand that a bit...
Badwrongfun is fun based upon inflicting discomfort upon other real-persons, or upon encouraging behaviors that lead to discomfort, or which results in real harm to self or other players, be any of those physical or mental pain.
I'd also include play of games which are so utterly repugnant in their subject matter that even playing them is likely to lead to developing real world antisocial tendencies. (Fatal, RaHoWa, and a few others.)
 

JEB

Adventurer
When the subject of Lovecraft's racism comes up I rarely find that it's meant to steer the conversation to better examine the complexities of a literary figure who had a profound influence on horror and role playing games. A few years back, it was often brought up to warn people unfamiliar with his work with what they might encounter. Some of his stories, like "Herbert West-Reanimator" and "The Horror at Red Hook" contain shockingly appalling language if one isn't prepared for it so warnings are appropriate. But more often these days Lovecraft's racism is brought up in an effort to dissuade people from reading his work or in some cases even acknowledging his influence. I'm surprised Call of Cthulhu hasn't been called out for being badwrongfun.
The problem is, Lovecraft wasn't just racist, he was exceptionally bigoted even by the standards of his time. He supposedly even made other folks whose racism really was of-the-time, like his friend Robert. E. Howard, balk on occasion. (He might have started to mellow towards the very end of his life, but it isn't clear, and might be too little, too late anyway.) And knowing that seriously changes the context of his work, and not just the obvious stuff like Reanimator. (It was certainly enough to push me away from his stuff years ago - a far cry from the lore nerd who devoured Mythos books and produced online timelines of the Mythos in my college days.)

But Call of Cthulhu is a different matter. Sure, it's based on his works, inseparably. But it's not his work, it's a derivative, about 40 years removed in its original incarnation and twice as far now. (And CoC arguably owes much more to Lovecraft's successors, like August Derleth and Brian Lumley, than to Lovecraft himself. Heck, CoC itself is arguably the trope codifier of modern Lovecraftian fiction.)

So that raises a tough question. One can certainly make the argument that since Lovecraft was a bigot, his works are Bad Things that belong in the dustbin of history. But what of all the things he inspired? Like Derleth's fiction? Like Call of Cthulhu? Even remote stuff like The Evil Dead or the Great Old One warlock from D&D 5E? Or any fiction that has incomprehensible, alien gods and truths that drive men mad? Are those all fruit of the poisonous tree? Is it wrong to enjoy things that can't exist without a Bad Thing? If it's a matter of how far removed they are, how far is far enough?

And of course, Lovecraft's works are just one example, as we learn more and more about how terrible a lot of famous folks were (or worse, are). It's probably become one of the defining questions of our ever more aware age, if you're into anything creative. And even stuff that wasn't bad at the time can become a Bad Thing as times change, as any internet D&D fan is likely well aware.

Personally, it's a question I still struggle with. I still have some Cthulhu Mythos and Call of Cthulhu books on my shelf (none where Lovecraft is front and center, though). But I can't decide if I've struck the right balance, or if I'm just making excuses. Maybe, like many cases of badwrongfun, you kind of have to judge it yourself.
 

I'm surprised Call of Cthulhu hasn't been called out for being badwrongfun.
It has been... over being over-focused on the occult. Usually by the more educated bigots of the enduring remnants of the satanic panic ...
Most of them aren't educated enough to realize the point is to fight the demons, not play their cultists.
Same kind of people who hold book burnings focusing on D&D, Palladium, and all other RPGs... as recently as 2012... (In 2012, Jerry Prevo of Anchorage Baptist Temple, which isn't affiliated with any organization of Baptists, held a book burning in Anchorage, and called for fantasy novels, any/all rpgs, and especially D&D, and Rifts. But the list circulated included CoC and the complete works of HPL.)
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
So that raises a tough question. One can certainly make the argument that since Lovecraft was a bigot, his works are Bad Things that belong in the dustbin of history. But what of all the things he inspired? Like Derleth's fiction? Like Call of Cthulhu? Even remote stuff like The Evil Dead or the Great Old One warlock from D&D 5E? Or any fiction that has incomprehensible, alien gods and truths that drive men mad? Are those all fruit of the poisonous tree? Is it wrong to enjoy things that can't exist without a Bad Thing? If it's a matter of how far removed they are, how far is far enough?
This is a good question but for me not a tough question. If the worse human being to ever live, created the most beautiful paintings that ever were, those paintings would not cease to be beautiful. If the person's character is not reflected somehow in their specific work (and with Lovecraft this may be so, I'm not denying that), then the art is unaffected. If this terrible person is making money off their art, we may very well not want to buy it because we don't want to fund his bad deeds. But after he is long gone, the paintings would remain and they'd still be beautiful. So art must be judged on its own merits I think.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
This is a good question but for me not a tough question. If the worse human being to ever live, created the most beautiful paintings that ever were, those paintings would not cease to be beautiful. If the person's character is not reflected somehow in their specific work (and with Lovecraft this may be so, I'm not denying that), then the art is unaffected. If this terrible person is making money off their art, we may very well not want to buy it because we don't want to fund his bad deeds. But after he is long gone, the paintings would remain and they'd still be beautiful. So art must be judged on its own merits I think.
Makes me wonder how many medical treatments and other technological advances we use today were created by racists or people with other deplorable beliefs/practices.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So that raises a tough question. One can certainly make the argument that since Lovecraft was a bigot, his works are Bad Things that belong in the dustbin of history. But what of all the things he inspired? Like Derleth's fiction? Like Call of Cthulhu? Even remote stuff like The Evil Dead or the Great Old One warlock from D&D 5E? Or any fiction that has incomprehensible, alien gods and truths that drive men mad? Are those all fruit of the poisonous tree? Is it wrong to enjoy things that can't exist without a Bad Thing? If it's a matter of how far removed they are, how far is far enough?

It becomes more complicated when you get to works like the Lovecraft Country series, in which African American writers and actors take on that history directly.

If you consign his works to the dustbin of history, you land yourself in the land those who do not study history, and are therefore are doomed to repeat it. Rather, it is important to approach his work with full understanding that it is a study in how things go wrong.

This is doubly important when we note, as you have, that the man was rather more racist than many of his peers of his time. But, somehow, even though he gave others pause with his vehemence... his works became famous and influential anyway. So, it is more than "Lovecraft's works show his racism." There's also, "systemic racism overlooked his issues and embraced his work," which is also an important lesson.
 

MGibster

Legend
The problem is, Lovecraft wasn't just racist, he was exceptionally bigoted even by the standards of his time.
I can buy that Lovecraft might have been a bit more virulent than others but exceptionally racist by the standards of the 20s and 30s? No. During Lovecraft's relatively short life, the United States experienced strong nativist leanings, lynching was practically a national past time, 1915's Birth of a Nation led to the 2nd incarnation of the KKK which went on to become a mainstream organization (not just in the South), anti-Semitism reached it's peak, and many historians consider the 20s and 30s to be the nadir of race relations in America (post Reconstruction). The sad truth is that Lovecraft's racism was very much within mainstream standards of the era, which, again, was a particularly ugly time. This doesn't vindicate Lovecraft for the hateful things he wrote of course and I've got no problem with people bringing attention to it. But saying he was exceptionally racist for the era kind of lets the rest of America off the hook.

But just for the moment, let's assume that Lovecraft was exceptionally bigoted even by the standards of his time. So what? Lovecraft wasn't a particularly wealthy man, he wasn't politically connected, and he wasn't even a very successful author during his lifetime. He was never in a position to do a lot of harm and what honors he does currently receive aren't because of his racist beliefs.

Personally, it's a question I still struggle with. I still have some Cthulhu Mythos and Call of Cthulhu books on my shelf (none where Lovecraft is front and center, though). But I can't decide if I've struck the right balance, or if I'm just making excuses. Maybe, like many cases of badwrongfun, you kind of have to judge it yourself.
Me too. I think we're all still struggling to come to terms with the problematic nature of a lot of the literature we grew up loving. And the struggle will be an ongoing process rather than something with a definitive end.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I can buy that Lovecraft might have been a bit more virulent than others but exceptionally racist by the standards of the 20s and 30s? No. During Lovecraft's relatively short life, the United States experienced strong nativist leanings, lynching was practically a national past time, 1915's Birth of a Nation led to the 2nd incarnation of the KKK which went on to become a mainstream organization (not just in the South), anti-Semitism reached it's peak, and many historians consider the 20s and 30s to be the nadir of race relations in America (post Reconstruction). The sad truth is that Lovecraft's racism was very much within mainstream standards of the era, which, again, was a particularly ugly time. This doesn't vindicate Lovecraft for the hateful things he wrote of course and I've got no problem with people bringing attention to it. But saying he was exceptionally racist for the era kind of lets the rest of America off the hook.

But just for the moment, let's assume that Lovecraft was exceptionally bigoted even by the standards of his time. So what? Lovecraft wasn't a particularly wealthy man, he wasn't politically connected, and he wasn't even a very successful author during his lifetime. He was never in a position to do a lot of harm and what honors he does currently receive aren't because of his racist beliefs.


Me too. I think we're all still struggling to come to terms with the problematic nature of a lot of the literature we grew up loving. And the struggle will be an ongoing process rather than something with a definitive end.

I don’t find it that difficult. Most works fall into a few categories.

Books whose sole purpose was to make a case for a bad/evil idea. Books like Hitler’s Mein Kampf which was required reading when I was in college 16ish years ago. Books like this are valuable in understanding history so as not to repeat it but have no other redeeming qualities.

Then there’s books which don’t primarily make a case for anything bad/evil but have such things in the backdrop as seemingly normal/commonplace. IMO One can reasonably like these works despite such depictions.

Then there’s books which don’t have anything evil or bad in them but for which the author is known to think/believe/practice evil or vile things. Ideas and art stands or falls on their own merits regardless of the author and so I find nothing wrong with these works.

Which leads us to to another question. Buying a book isn’t simply you acquiring the book. The author also gets proceeds (unless it’s a used book). So in some sense your money is going to those who wrongly use it. I can see the case for not buying their goods, but our society would fail to function if everyone stopped buying things from those they disagreed with or found highly immoral because none of us see eye to eye on everything and all of us have character faults - especially when the past no longer shields us from or prior actions. I’m worried that this path leads to a rather non functioning world - or one where totalitarianism reigns.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
Which leads us to to another question. Buying a book isn’t simply you acquiring the book. The author also gets proceeds (unless it’s a used book). So in some sense your money is going to those who wrongly use it. I can see the case for not buying their goods, but our society would fail to function if everyone stopped buying things from those they disagreed with or found highly immoral because none of us see eye to eye on everything and all of us have character faults - especially when the past no longer shields us from or prior actions. I’m worried that this path leads to a rather non functioning world - or one where totalitarianism reigns.
I've thought about this a good bit. While I think it is fine to boycott something in support of your beliefs, I've never thought it wrong - not to boycott. You are exchanging money for a product. That is the end of your responsibility in my view. Now let's say we assume it's not an illegal product. I don't think purchasing someone's product is an endorsement of them or their views.
 

JEB

Adventurer
Makes me wonder how many medical treatments and other technological advances we use today were created by racists or people with other deplorable beliefs/practices.
This is a valid ethical question. But there's a universe of difference between, say, "this medical technique will save my patient, but the inventor was a horrible man" and "do I play this game made by a convicted murderer?" In the former case, a life is at stake; in the latter, only an afternoon's entertainment.

It becomes more complicated when you get to works like the Lovecraft Country series, in which African American writers and actors take on that history directly.

If you consign his works to the dustbin of history, you land yourself in the land those who do not study history, and are therefore are doomed to repeat it.
A very good point - deconstructing a problematic work can be an extremely valuable exercise, and you can't do that without the original work continuing to exist...

Rather, it is important to approach his work with full understanding that it is a study in how things go wrong.
... but this is an even further complication - most folks won't pick up that context. Most will just be like I was years back, thinking this Cthulhu stuff sounds interesting and cool, so why don't I read the original material - and will read it uncritically. So is it worth the trade? We keep endorsing the problematic works by problematic folks, as long as other folks get to push back?

(To be clear, I'm no fan of obliterating problematic works, but I'm certainly not eager to pretend they're OK, either.)

This is doubly important when we note, as you have, that the man was rather more racist than many of his peers of his time. But, somehow, even though he gave others pause with his vehemence... his works became famous and influential anyway. So, it is more than "Lovecraft's works show his racism." There's also, "systemic racism overlooked his issues and embraced his work," which is also an important lesson.
Well, in the specific case of Lovecraft, the extent of his bigotry wasn't at all well known, outside his circle of friends and correspondents. There are only a few stories with overtly racist elements, and casual racism was common enough in popular fiction of the era that they don't stand out that much.

Heck, most readers of Lovecraft's stories probably still don't know about his bigotry. I know I didn't until years after I read his works. (I did frown on the aforementioned racist elements in a few stories when I first read them, but I figured it was of-the-time racism - regrettable but more a reflection of the time and not his character. Little did I know...)

I can buy that Lovecraft might have been a bit more virulent than others but exceptionally racist by the standards of the 20s and 30s? No.
The 1920s and 1930s were definitely a more overtly racist time, but Lovecraft was still above average. I'm reasonably sure most of-the-time racists didn't have fantasies about minorities getting gassed...

I can see the case for not buying their goods, but our society would fail to function if everyone stopped buying things from those they disagreed with or found highly immoral because none of us see eye to eye on everything and all of us have character faults - especially when the past no longer shields us from or prior actions.
Would that sort of behavior really bring down society? Maybe taken to extremes, perhaps, in the sense that 100% ethical consumption is nearly impossible in modern, globalized societies, so you'd have to boycott everything.

But in terms of entertainment? I think it would be pretty great if more people took stands and refused to buy things from folks they think have abhorrent views or behavior. Instead, you more often see folks boycotting the things they wouldn't have bought in the first place, and rationalizing purchases of the things they like but know come from a bad source...
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I am the final arbiter of taste and decency. I didn't want the job, but mine was the name picked out of the hat and someone needs to fill the role. So, if your fun isn't the same as my fun, or if I disapprove of your fun in anyway, then your fun is badwrongfun. Complaints can be submitted to management in triplicate and will be subject to the standard 6 month review process.
Good. That means I can be the final arbiter of bad taste and indecency, thus making my job far more fun than yours. :)
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
But in terms of entertainment? I think it would be pretty great if more people took stands and refused to buy things from folks they think have abhorrent views or behavior. Instead, you more often see folks boycotting the things they wouldn't have bought in the first place, and rationalizing purchases of the things they like but know come from a bad source...
I admit I don't bother to even check. If the work itself has elements that make it bad that is another thing but if the author has abhorrent views, I likely don't know it in some cases. I don't really care that much. I don't oppose anyone boycotting things they don't like.

If the person is dead, I am almost certainly going to buy the product anyway. If the person is alive and making a royal nuisance of themselves and putting it right in my face I might not buy that product. Same as I wouldn't go to a restaurant where the waitress was a jerk. If the owner of the restaurant doesn't share my views on some political topic, I don't really care that much.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
... but this is an even further complication - most folks won't pick up that context. Most will just be like I was years back, thinking this Cthulhu stuff sounds interesting and cool, so why don't I read the original material - and will read it uncritically. So is it worth the trade? We keep endorsing the problematic works by problematic folks, as long as other folks get to push back?

I think an ethical publisher should be including discussion of the context - essays added to collections, annotated versions, and so on. Ethical authors drawing on the Lovecraftian root should probably discuss the matter in forwards to their work, and so on.

I mean, if The Muppet Show can put a disclaimer on episodes that show unfortunate thoughts of their times, surely written media can handle this easily enough as they reprint.

Well, in the specific case of Lovecraft, the extent of his bigotry wasn't at all well known, outside his circle of friends and correspondents. There are only a few stories with overtly racist elements, and casual racism was common enough in popular fiction of the era that they don't stand out that much.

And, that's part of the lesson, now isn't it?
 

MGibster

Legend
... but this is an even further complication - most folks won't pick up that context. Most will just be like I was years back, thinking this Cthulhu stuff sounds interesting and cool, so why don't I read the original material - and will read it uncritically. So is it worth the trade? We keep endorsing the problematic works by problematic folks, as long as other folks get to push back?
The Lovecraft works that are overtly racist are pretty darned easy to spot even if you're not reading with a critical eye. When reading "Herbert West-Reanimator" the racism stands up and announces itself with the name of the black cat and Lovecraft's description of the black boxer. Even in high school, when I had a decidedly less critical eye, I couldn't help but notice the racism in "Reanimator" as well as "The Horror at Red Hook." Some of his other works are a bit more subtle. The first time I read The Shadow Over Innsmouth it wasn't obvious to me that it was about miscegenation largely because the concept wasn't on my radar at the time. At the time, I interpreted the story to be about the fear of insanity running down generational lines.

... but this is an even further complication - most folks won't pick up that context. Most will just be like I was years back, thinking this Cthulhu stuff sounds interesting and cool, so why don't I read the original material - and will read it uncritically.
And part of the problem is that most modern readers aren't afraid of the same things Lovecraft was so it's very easy to interpret some of his stories differently than they might have been interpreted back in 1925. Bram Stoker's Dracula has the same problem. How many of us were horrified by the wanton behavior of Lucy once she became the Bloofur Lady? Very few because we tend to look at old stories through our own modern lens.

The 1920s and 1930s were definitely a more overtly racist time, but Lovecraft was still above average. I'm reasonably sure most of-the-time racists didn't have fantasies about minorities getting gassed...
In 1927, John Carter was lynched on the outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas, his body was dragged behind a vehicle past city hall to the corner of 9th and Broadway, the center of African American business, where he was hanged from a light pole, and immolated with the fuel being provided by the pews the mob, an estimated 5,000 people strong, took from the nearby Bethel AME church. For the next three hours the mob controlled the area until Governor Martineau called up the Arkansas National Guard to drive them away. The next day a boy was detained by police on Main Street for selling photos of Mr. Carter's corpse for 15 cents. Spoiler alert: Nobody was ever convicted of or even brought to trial for murdering Mr. Carter.

Rather than fantasizing about gassing minorities, white Americans were actually killing them. In 1921, whites leveled 35 blocks of Tulsa, Oklahoma and while the official death count at the time was only 36, a 2001 commission estimated anywhere between 75-300 people were killed. I think the police chief was charged with failure to stop a riot and something else but nobody was imprisoned for murder or arson. Many Americans participated in, approved of, or were indifferent to the lynching of African Americans. To put it another way, you don't lynch an average of one person a week for more than 30 years without widespread approval.

But how does this all relate to gaming? We tend to take material from the past and interpret it in a manner that makes us comfortable today. When I run Call of Cthulhu I borrow elements from Lovecraft to be sure but it's not like my adventures revolve around fears of miscegenation because, well, even if it wasn't offensive, I'm not horrified by it.

I think an ethical publisher should be including discussion of the context - essays added to collections, annotated versions, and so on. Ethical authors drawing on the Lovecraftian root should probably discuss the matter in forwards to their work, and so on.
I'm with you on that one. I read Dracula for the first time about ten years ago and it was an annotated version. It was useful for a variety of reasons helping me better understand what I was reading. I know they have annotated versions of Lovecraft's work, but since so much of what he wrote is in the public domain it can be difficult sorting through all the versions that are currently available either online or in dead tree form. But I think it's well worth the effort.
 

JEB

Adventurer
I think an ethical publisher should be including discussion of the context - essays added to collections, annotated versions, and so on. Ethical authors drawing on the Lovecraftian root should probably discuss the matter in forwards to their work, and so on.

I mean, if The Muppet Show can put a disclaimer on episodes that show unfortunate thoughts of their times, surely written media can handle this easily enough as they reprint.
Fair, but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen with most Lovecraft collections, or many works by problematic creators. Doesn't exactly help sales.

I mean, can you imagine if "WARNING: This game is based on works by a racist" was on the cover of the next edition of Call of Cthulhu? Ethical, sure. But you might as well not even publish it at that point.

(I feel really bad for the folks at Chaosium, BTW. I sincerely doubt they understood 40 years ago what sort of person they were tying themselves to, when they created their most famous RPG...)

The Lovecraft works that are overtly racist are pretty darned easy to spot even if you're not reading with a critical eye. When reading "Herbert West-Reanimator" the racism stands up and announces itself with the name of the black cat and Lovecraft's description of the black boxer. Even in high school, when I had a decidedly less critical eye, I couldn't help but notice the racism in "Reanimator" as well as "The Horror at Red Hook." Some of his other works are a bit more subtle. The first time I read The Shadow Over Innsmouth it wasn't obvious to me that it was about miscegenation largely because the concept wasn't on my radar at the time. At the time, I interpreted the story to be about the fear of insanity running down generational lines.
That was pretty much my experience as well (and around the same age, too). I imagine it's an awful lot of Lovecraft readers' experience with his work. "That's terrible, but those are exceptions, not the rule." Then when you research Lovecraft himself...

In 1927, John Carter was lynched on the outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas, his body was dragged behind a vehicle past city hall to the corner of 9th and Broadway, the center of African American business, where he was hanged from a light pole, and immolated with the fuel being provided by the pews the mob, an estimated 5,000 people strong, took from the nearby Bethel AME church. For the next three hours the mob controlled the area until Governor Martineau called up the Arkansas National Guard to drive them away. The next day a boy was detained by police on Main Street for selling photos of Mr. Carter's corpse for 15 cents. Spoiler alert: Nobody was ever convicted of or even brought to trial for murdering Mr. Carter.

Rather than fantasizing about gassing minorities, white Americans were actually killing them. In 1921, whites leveled 35 blocks of Tulsa, Oklahoma and while the official death count at the time was only 36, a 2001 commission estimated anywhere between 75-300 people were killed. I think the police chief was charged with failure to stop a riot and something else but nobody was imprisoned for murder or arson. Many Americans participated in, approved of, or were indifferent to the lynching of African Americans. To put it another way, you don't lynch an average of one person a week for more than 30 years without widespread approval.
Obviously those are horrific events, and that they weren't immediately treated as atrocities is a clear example of the systemic racism at the time.

But if you're trying to suggest that Lovecraft's fantasies of extermination, that his palpable rage even when in the presence of minorities, was completely normal behavior for white Americans of the era? That he wasn't worse than average? That seems like a stretch.
 

MGibster

Legend
Fair, but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen with most Lovecraft collections, or many works by problematic creators. Doesn't exactly help sales.
I'm not either. It takes research and effort to make an annotated text and that means money spent. The majority Lovecraft compilations are put together on the cheap and they've got not interest in doing anything other than seeing a return on their investment. But in 2014 they did release The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft. I haven't read it so I can't vouch for how good it is.

I mean, can you imagine if "WARNING: This game is based on works by a racist" was on the cover of the next edition of Call of Cthulhu? Ethical, sure. But you might as well not even publish it at that point.
I don't think you'd see that on any annotated version of Lovecraft's work. What purpose would it serve? An annotated version just has notes within it's pages designed to provide the reader with further insight into the author's work. For example, the annotated version of Dracula I had included some exposition of Victorian standards of behavior, definitions for the astounding number of words to describe different types of horse drawn wagons, and an explanation of the god awful dialect Stoker wrote in for an old sailor.

But if you're trying to suggest that Lovecraft's fantasies of extermination, that his palpable rage even when in the presence of minorities, was completely normal behavior for white Americans of the era? That he wasn't worse than average? That seems like a stretch.

A few months after the murder of John Carter, Marcet Haldeman-Julius was in Little Rock to investigate and write an article about the lynching that would be titled "The Story of a Lynching: An Exploration of Southern Psychology" when published in Haldeman-Julius Monthly later that year. Haldeman-Julius recounts that while riding a trolley in Little Rock, she observed two black girls (late teens) standing so she invited them to sit next to her as she had a whole seat to herself. This so incensed another passenger, a white man, that he got up from his seat and starting shouting at Haldeman-Julius at the girls. Haldeman-Julius grew fearful that he might strike her but thankfully he got off at the next stop. But a few stops later she ran into him again as well as the police officer he brought with him and suffered some abuses from him again.

I'm not going to argue that Lovecraft was normal. Was he more racist than the average American? Maybe. Was he exceptionally racist when compared to most Americans? No.
 


An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top