(Image credit: Frank Looney)
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For many of us the REH and HPL racism discussion is a sensitive issue. We love and idolize both these authors and hate to think of them as anything but perfect. I think this was done in bad taste.
I’m having a little trouble figuring out who exactly this pokes fun of. Is it’s Howards questionable views on other races (highley debatable), or HPL views. I’m leaning towards HPL due to the cosmicism reference but I’m not 100% sure, anyone want to chime in?
I agree that it’s on the edge; it’s always a pretty difficult line to gauge. I’ve turned down a few submissions that I felt, at the time, were a bit too over whatever line that is.
This one I felt was okay… IMO it’s mostly just a generalized observation of some of HPL’s recurring themes, and viewing those recurring ideas from the perspective of a narrator who doesn’t exactly venerate HPL’s works. The humor, to me, derives from the dispassionate tone of the narrator, who finds HPL’s racism as tiresome as his dire portents of chaos and dread.
It actually didn’t enter my mind to think of it as a direct “attack,” if you will, on HPL himself, though I do see how it could easily be interpreted that way. Excising the reference to racism could certainly leave the macro with much of its humor intact: “Yeah, Howard, mankind is doomed and insignificant and our attempts to avert our downfall can end only in madness – we get it already.”
Could be that posting this was a misstep on my part – I don’t know. I do agree that it’s a pretty hairy issue. Perhaps I should re-caption it and just link to the original?
Wow I feel dumb, I completely forgot HPL’s first name is Howard, ( I usually think of him as ‘HP Lovecraft’). For some reason I thought the narrator was HPL, talking about Robert E Howard (both have been labeled racist).
I understand it A LOT better now, and I hope this clarifies my previous post a bit. But for the most part my position still stands. HPL doesn’t deserve to be crucified for his views, he was a product of his enviroment. According to some sources he eventually repented his racist positions.
I’m astounded that anyone is even slightly compelled to complain about a joke at the expense of a racist. There are plenty of reasons to call Lovecraft stories hackneyed, poorly written, and racist. I like his stories because they’re fun, sometimes they’re really special, and a lot of the ideas are really cool. But that’s it.
That picture doesn’t “crucify HPL for his views”. If anything it mocks readers who can’t accept that his stories are often repetitive and often excuses to manifest his racism.
Tough luck if your favorite author was racist.
I think it’s funny, and I’m not sure I understand Tao of Pi’s objections.
HPL wasn’t perfect. He was racist; so much so that he was reportedly horrified to find out that an ancestor had been Welsh. Because, you know, the Welsh are “lesser beings,” as opposed to proper Anglos (or something, it’s never made sense to me). Jerkish behavior? Sure. Acceptable target for poking fun? Of course.
He was sexist, too. But I suppose we can’t make jokes about HPL being afraid of girls, either. It might hurt someone’s feelings. /sarcasm
You know, it’s always hard to separate the artist from the art… Ezra Pound and his fascism is the most common example, or Orff, maybe?
In one way it’s unfortunate that HPL didn’t just have racist, misogynist views, but also expressed them pretty baldly in a good portion of his works. Many times people defend an author by saying that such biases are just part of the era they live. I don’t think that’s an excuse- Mark Twain is a good example, who transcended both the predominant racism of the time as well as religious pigheadedness. There are many more examples, and again, unfortunately HP Loverboy was not one of them.
In a way, it’s part of an indescribable appeal, though. I’ve been a pretty hardcore HPL fan since I was about nine years old, and I’ve realized more and more over the years how deeply flawed a person he was, as well as how incomplete a writer. You can never quite put your finger on exactly what it was that made his concepts and characters and such so memorable, but you have to wonder (as Stevie King has) whether someone with such a comprehensive set of fears (negros, vaginas, open spaces, disease, etc.) isn’t the perfect gateway for a sort of general nameless frisson of cosmic ass-kicking dread.
So let’s hear it for Howie, who has succeeded in giving us a little shiver and a lot of entertainment despite his shortcomings.
Regardless or race, color, or creed,we are all equal in the elder god’s eyes.
Equally worthless, that is…
IMO: Howie needed a hug.
This same macro got me booted from an HPL Livejournal community.
Anyway, if it caused any offense, sorry about that. It wasn’t intentional; I’d just been re-reading “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “Herbert West – Reanimator” (featuring a REALLY shocking description of a black boxer), and felt like poking some fun at the guy.
I thought this one was pretty hilarious myself. One might guess HPL wouldn’t have had quite the same views if he was born/raised a century later, or even if he did, he would have adjusted his writing a bit.
Some of his views are bothersome, but he was a product of a different era, and it doesn’t change the fact that he wrote some terrific fiction.
I’m with harold. Every era leaves a stamp on it’s writers and I doubt there’s any work of fiction that escapes being flavored with the mores of the time. As for the cap, well, the same sort of thing has gone through my mind reading HPL & REH (and ERB, and… so on). Migod, have you tried reading ALL of ERB’s Martian books? Zounds!
weirdharold is correct. To put this in context of the time period that Lovecraft lived in the KKK had a membership of about 20 million during the 1920′s, a shameful statistic in U.S. history. I do think the pic is funny, however, no one should condemn HPL for his views at that time. If you read the works of Robert E. Howard, Earnest Hemmingway and John Steinbeck, all writers of that era, you’ll find much of the same racist views. If they were writers of this era undoubtedly their attitudes would be much more liberal concerning race.
Tao of Pi, you have got to be kidding me. First off, it’s a picture of H.P. Lovecraft, that should eliminate nay doubt in your mind. Second, although I am a big Lovecraft fan, much of his work is infused, and NOT subtley, with an abundance of prejudice. “On the Creation of N*****s”: “A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure, Filled it with vice, and called the thing a N*****”….why would you even get offended at this picture’s caption? The man himself said things that would be considered absolutely intolerable today.
Hey everyone, I love this image.
And as a lifelong fan of Lovecraft and his fiction, I just needed to throw in some pale white golden coins into this equation. Howard is always said to be a racist and sexist, and even an antisemitic bigot. All of the above is true, but there was something more to it. His wife Sonia was jewish, and she quoted after his death that he’d make horrible remarks all the time about just about everyone, and she found herself constantly needing to remind him of her lineage, but she never said that she was a bad husband. His most hateful works sprang from when he was dying of intestinal cancer.
People peer in on him as if looking down on his personal image, calling Howie an unusually hateful racist. I don’t think that’s true. I’ve read all of his stories closely, sat through days of books and legends and reference texts to the things he wrote about. The truth in my eyes is that H.P. hated everyone, especially himself. Ever wondered why the protagonists of his stories, if indeed there was one, became overly afraid or calm in the face of any cruel fate, and came out of it in wonderment? They were reflections on how he just hated the shit out himself, and about his wonderment after each time he didn’t end his life as quickly as it had started.
That’s right, Lovie was an equal-opportunity hater in my eyes. Some people were transcending hatred at the time, some people got buried by it. He was buried waist deep in a black expanse of muck which might well have dried up to lead him to the deep canyons of Dagon, or have lead to the Brooklyn harbor where he used to walk by and ponder on. The muck added up on his racist upbringing and his broken pride. Racists are just more obvious when they are brilliant writers.
Don’t forget that people have called J.R.R. Tolkien racist because he was born an Afrikaner, but that’s just another assumption backed up by people who are just wasting all of their time cramming artists into filing cabinets with their publicly known work.
I like this picture because it’s funny and striking at the same time. I love being a jewy jew jew, while I just kind of belong to the Esoteric Order of Dagon, and lolthulu.
It is quite appropriate to call the writer what he was – a racist. I find it possible to enjoy his fantastically-themed writings without denying this fact (and indeed, while acknowledging the works’ tediousness – can’t really deny that either), and I disagree with the Tao of Pi wholeheartedly. Idolizing anything or anyone and pretending they are perfect is nothing short of foolish.
Yes, I do believe that HPL was a little racist, but i honestly believe that he wasn’t in any way vocalizing the “white superiority” and yes that discription of that black boxer was a little… atrocious (if i spelled that right) but I enjoyed his work, and without that flavoring of racism i dont think that his work would be as authentic to the time period as some people thing. This made me laugh on the inside. he he.
Lovecraft was a great writer, I love his stories, but it’s obvious he was a racist. I’m not, but I still enjoy his stories. Often we just have to take the good and the bad together.
But I’m very glad to see his racism admitted and discussed on a pro-Lovecraft forum. If we can’t do that, there’s something amiss in Arkham.
um, that’s the point. There’s something amiss in Arkham. That’s the whole point, in’it?
(I think the pic is a hoot, btw.)
I don’t think much of anything can be explained away by saying that HLP was a “product of his times.” The savagery and brutishness of non-white people and cultures is a major theme of of his work, and he appeared to be obsessed with it.
On the other hand, I personally have never met anybody who’s found it particularly offensive. It’s so over-the-top, in the context of stories which are already way over-the-top, that it’s a bit hard for me to take seriously, which actually makes it oddly entertaining.
I don’t see this message as calling the man a “racist,” so much as expressing the bored exasperation one sometimes feels after a big HLP binge. Add something about everybody going insane, and it’d be perfect.
Well, im a little late to the party but, Im a “Dirty Savage” and i love his works, go figure.
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