F#@k H.P. Lovecraft

F#@k H.P. Lovecraft

Michael Barnes     
1933   0

It's time to let Lovecraft go.

Over the past couple of days I've been in Mexico City. Over the past couple of days, I've been "the other" in a sea of faces and lives like and yet not like my own. My daughter, who has fair skin, red hair and blue eyes, was stopped frequently around the Zocalo by folks wanting to take her picture because she is so different than what Mexicans are used to seeing on their streets. They weren't scared, hateful, or distrustful of us. Instead, the Mexican people we interacted with were welcoming, kind, and wanted to share their culture with us. We were not regarded as monsters, although many white Americans tend to treat the Mexican people as sub-human creatures.

All of that may seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, but today I read a piece over at Eurogamer.net by Sam Greer that pushed me towards a personal decision about Lovecraft and where I stand with this hugely influential and ever-present author known for his xenophobia, racism, and fear of "the other". The "strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown" quote extends to folks that aren't white, male and American. Not just tentacle monsters.

It's definitely a hot take piece and there's certainly room for debate about aspects of her position, but reading it today less than 24 hours after being in another country, I've decided that I am absolutely through with Lovecraft anything. I can no longer excuse the racism, I can no longer look the other way just because I like pulp horror and tentacle monsters. I cannot in good conscience continue to support and promote literary works or media based on them when said works are rife with overtly racist subtexts. I am removing all Lovecraft books from my house, as I do not want my kids encountering them before they are old enough to discern the subtle and not-so subtle moral wrongness of the writer's perspectives. I am purging my game collection of all designs explicitly based on Lovecraft and I will not review, cover, or discuss any game that features Cthulhu, Shub-Niggurath, or any other Mythos-specific character or creation.

Racism, which is impacting millions of people in the United States alone, is far more terrifying than any bullshit about cosmic terror or eldritch gods or whatever. America-first xenophobia is threatening global culture every day. And I'm supposed to be scared of reading a spooky book or a mysterious color? The really frightening thing about Lovecraft is how much his work has been appropriated without analysis, consideration, or context...and along with it, his hateful worldview.

I stand by my existing reviews of such works- Cthulhu Wars, Mythos Tales, and Eldritch Horror for example- but would disclaim all of them to indicate that the source material is racist and these games should be regarded as unfortunate for basing their designs in racist and intolerant settings. Sadly, I will not be covering Nikki Valen's upcoming Arkham Horror revision for this reason. I don't think you can really get away from the racism if you are playing in this setting. Adding in a stereotypical black jazz musician or a female Chinese martial artist doesn't cover it all up or excuse it. It calls it into relief.

I want to be clear that I do not regard anyone making these games as racist or intolerant. But I do question the need for gaming in a larger sense to be so dependent on directly using the Lovecraft source material instead of more sensibly taking those influences and moving them away from the race-hating ugliness that pervades virtually all of his work to some degree. It's there. Don't pretend it isn't. It's time to move on from that privileged white male geek attitude. It's time to just fucking admit that you can't "separate the art from the artist" when the artist's art is an expression of their values, attitudes, and beliefs.

Here's the thing. Lovecraft is an important and influential writer. But the reality of it is that there are so many books, stories, comics, films, and games that have been inspired by Lovecraft that are BETTER than Lovecraft. So why don't creators take the compelling elements of the Mythos stories and instead do something more interesting with it all? Why is there the need to continue to pledge fealty to Lovecraft and drag out the same Lovecraft shit over and over again? Witness Games Workshop's Lovecraftian pantheon of Chaos Gods, or going back further Moorcock's Lovecraftian elements. There's Annihilation, The Thing, Lovecraft Country, True Detective, In the Mouth of Madness...we don't NEED Lovecraft any more.

I know that I certainly do not. I don't regret being interested in him or his work, I don't regret the time I've spent reading or studying At the Mountains of Madness or playing the Arkham Horror LCG or whatever. But I'm at a point where I'm saying "no more". In Greer's post, one thing I especially liked is that she points out that in addition to Lovecraft being racist...he's also BORING. I'm sick of it.

And I'm sick of making excuses. I'm sick of saying the words "Shub-Niggurath" and having to subconsciously push back against the fact that the very concept of that Mythos deity is screamingly, blatantly racist. I don't ever want to look at one of my friends, an African-American, and explain that Lovecraft was a product of his time, that's how white people in Providence at the time thought, et cetera.

So this is it, I'm divorcing myself from Lovecraft. I wish that other game players would do the same- stand up and say "enough is enough". In this day and age, with right-wing sentiment on the rise and fascistic viewpoints creeping into the mainstream, I believe it is dangerous to promote even the subtlest racist media. It's time for game designers to knock it off with the Lovecraft shit. It's time for game designers to look for inspiration elsewhere. It's time for us to cut Lovecraft loose and move on to something better.

F#@k H.P. Lovecraft There Will Be Games

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Editor-in-Chief

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film. 

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Posted: 16 Oct 2018 17:15 by rinelk #283162
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Bravely written! I’m coming to realize that I change slowly, and it may take me a long time to join you. But, other than the supporting the artist bit in this particular case, because part of the reason it’s so popular is that it’s public domain, I am sympathetic to your reasons and impressed by your integrity.
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 17:42 by SuperflyTNT #283164
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Brave LMAO. It's not brave to point out a cunt is being a cunt. We at the fort have already been down this road. We all recognize he was a talented artist, and also, a giant cunt.

Thanks for sharing your apparent realization that he was a racist. Not sure why you've decided to revisit this after all your defense of "separate the art from the artist", but good on you for pointing out the obvious fact that HP Lovecraft was racist AF.
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 17:59 by Michael Barnes #283165
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I’m always the first to admit when I’ve got something wrong, and this is one of those cases. I was wrong to use the messed up “separate the art from the artist” argument to defend Lovecraft in the past, and this is me pubically stating that I was wrong.

I think you can still acknowledge and appreciate art made by racist dirtbags. Witness Triumph of the Will or Birth of a Nation. The artistic merit can’t be denied, just like I could not sit here and tell you that Cthulhu Wars or Eldritch Horror are bad games.

But you have to acknowledge that with that artistry, there are politics and agendas that have informed their creation and creators. If you can come to terms with Lovecraft’s racism and you feel comfortable excusing or ignoring it, that is a personal decision I respect. Art does not always have to match up with our personal politics. Sometimes, it shouldn’t. But other times- as is the case here- there comes a point at which we either stop making excuses for it or we are complicit with it.

Before, my position was that I was OK with the subject matter with a clear understanding of the context of it. But now, my feeling is that there is absolutely no reason to engage with anything by Lovecraft or based directly on Lovecraft when better, more highly evolved and refined examples of this kind of horror setting exist. Examples that don’t need the excuses or disclaimers.

This is a blog post- it’s a personal statement of intent. It’s true that it’s not really fresh for those who read our forums and it’s certainly not new to anyone who has been aware of the groundswell of anti-HPL sentiment that has been rumbling around for a few years. What -is- new here is that I am making it clear that I am cutting all ties to further Lovecraft content.
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 18:18 by Black Barney #283166
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Can I still watch hentai?
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 19:12 by Sevej #283168
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To be honest, we at this side of the world are not familiar at all with Lovecraft. A very small number of people do (and mostly to Cthulhu, not actual Lovecraft stories), but for the most of us what we got is just the extremely mainstream end of it. I have never been a big fan (not sure what's so special about it).

But I'm also curious. Both your writing, and the dudette on the other site show no example.

Note, that I'm not asking you to *prove* that Lovecraft is racist. This is just a honest question since Lovecraft is barely known here. It's difficult to put things into frame when almost every article about it only shows a snippet here and there, and mostly just rant (tried Googled it).
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 19:15 by boothwah #283169
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Black Barney wrote:
Can I still watch hentai?

Yes, but you are still a weeb.

So here's the deal. I've never read Lovecraft. Really had no idea what/who/why is Cthulu until I got into the gaming hobby, where it is slapped on a bazillion games as duty free ip. It, as an ip, is no more attractive to me than the nameless horror scenarios in Betrayal at House or something like that.

I can enjoy Eldritch just fine. Thanks for sending it btw, Gary! My wife has surprised the heck out of me and has asked to play it 3 times in the last 2 weeks.

/that said, That was a good read, mb
//if it makes you feel any better, you all made it so I can't enjoy Puerto Rico anymore
///but I still like toilet humor, so my growth curve is slight
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 19:46 by jason10mm #283170
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I dunno, it's pretty easy to strip out the "fun" stuff from Lovecraft and leave the bad stuff. He is long dead and no estate is profiting off his IP so does it really matter? It's not like he can defend himself or grow as a person. You are arguing with a pile of letters and some stories.


But I agree, there are other writers of weird fiction who merit some time in the limelight and we should find and celebrate them.
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 19:46 by Colorcrayons #283171
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I'm symapathetic to the overall message, yet I don't understand statements like "We don't need Lovecraft".

Not because I disagree with the statement, but I disagree with the intent.

It's like removing Kevin Spacey from the Usual Suspects.

Sure, he isn't there anymore. But the entire project is no longer the same.

What I'm trying to say is that I can agree that he had bad ideas he communicated, while disagreeing, rather strongly, that ignoring him or his influence is detrimental to what you're trying to accomplish.

Ignoring history never works out well.
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 20:13 by cranberries #283172
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This is definitely worth talking about, but don't we have a politics section for that discussion? Am I misremembering site policy?
Posted: 16 Oct 2018 20:21 by Michael Barnes #283174
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It’s not possible to eliminate the significance of Lovecraft. He is -profoundly- influential. And yes, even important. Countless writers, illustrators, game designers, musicians, playwrights, sculptors, and other creators have been influenced by Lovecraft, and this means something. However, this does not mean that the Lovecraft canon- which includes pulp fiction stories, poems (such as the “On the Creation of N******s cited in the pic above, and piles of embarrassing correspondence should be given a free pass on their hatefulness.

But it’s not just those letters. The racism is throughout the work. His description of non-whites is consistently repellent and crude. It is true that it is keeping in line with common-at-the-time pulp standards...but we don’t have have to continue accepting those standards.

I’m reminded of something going on in comics, where folks are starting to say “hey, you know what, Robert Crumb’s misogyny, racism, and creepy pedo stuff is not really OK anymore”. Up jump the white dudes to decry erasing Crumb’s importance and influence. But the message that should be coming across is that we simply don’t need to continue to blindly venerate these creators without being bluntly honest about how fucking disgusting they are by modern standards.

I’m just not doing the whole “hey, he was a white dude in Rhode Island, it was the early 20th century, those were the times, he didn’t like shellfish” thing any more. It’s NOT Ok with me any more. But I can still acknowledge and appreciate that “Lovecraftian” is a meaningful and significant descriptor for a valid reason.

Sevej, Google “Lovecraft racism” and you’ll get plenty of direct quotes of HPL directly stating racist viewpoints. You aren’t going to find any evidence of HPL lynching someone or anything like that because the reality of it is that he was very much like today’s ultra right wing internet trolls- strong words from behind a keyboard/typewriter, but too scared and reclusive to go out and publically take action on his hatred. I understand that racism is a very different thing in Indonesia so there may be some cultural differences in how we view all of this.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 02:24 by MattDP #283179
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Sevej wrote:
But I'm also curious. Both your writing, and the dudette on the other site show no example.

Actually, Barnes does show an example - the poem in the image at the top of the article.

I suggest you don't read the comment thread on the Eurogamer article, but in there the point is made that examples aren't needed because it's commonly known, and a plain fact. But if you're not familiar with his work, here are some.

"Suddenly the leader of the visiting mariners, an Arab with a hatefully negroid mouth, pulled forth a dirty, crumpled paper and handed it to the captain."

"Most of the people, he conjectured, were of Mongoloid stock, originating somewhere in or near Kurdistan—and Malone could not help recalling that Kurdistan is the land of the Yezidis, last survivors of the Persian devil-worshippers."

"He was conscious, as one who united imagination with scientific knowledge, that modern people under lawless conditions tend uncannily to repeat the darkest instinctive patterns of primitive half-ape savagery in their daily life"

- All from The Horror at Red Hook

"Soon after we were married he told me that whenever we have company he would appreciate it if there were Aryans in the majority ... When I protested that I too was one of them, he'd tell me I 'no longer belonged to these mongrels'."

- Quote from his Jewish wife, found in an autobiography

"The organic things—Italo-Semitico-Mongoloid—inhabiting that awful cesspool could not by any stretch of the imagination be call’d human. They were monstrous and nebulous adumbrations of the pithecanthropoid and amoebal;"

- Description of people living on the Lower East Side, from his letters

"The negro had been knocked out, and moment’s examination shewed us that he would permanently remain so. He was a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms which I could not help calling fore leg"

- from Re-Animator

Hopefully, that's enough to prove the point. You can find echoes of it in many of his stories which revolve around a white man pf Anglo-Saxon descent uncovering bestial vices among primitive folk of "lesser" races.

As to the article itself, while I applaud the stance, it's a horse that's bolted. The non-racist aspects of Lovecraft's work have essentially become too mainstream to be redacted, and I'm uncertain on the value of attempting to do so. Perhaps it would be better to try and openly confront the underlying racism when we have to inevitably deal with it.

But regardless of Lovecraft's vile political views, I think it's high time gaming moved on from his work simply because it's been done to death. There's nothing new in that seam and it's long past high time we moved on to more creative pastures.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 04:04 by stoic #283181
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Dibs on the eventual copy of Cthulhu Wars that goes up for sale here. It's tainted with pure Lovecraftian evil, but, I know the proper rituals to dispel that evil since I live in the Louisiana swap. To make sure, I'll also have it blessed by a local African-American Voodoo high priest.

lovecraft.jpg
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 06:34 by Jackwraith #283184
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MattDP wrote:
As to the article itself, while I applaud the stance, it's a horse that's bolted. The non-racist aspects of Lovecraft's work have essentially become too mainstream to be redacted, and I'm uncertain on the value of attempting to do so. Perhaps it would be better to try and openly confront the underlying racism when we have to inevitably deal with it.

But regardless of Lovecraft's vile political views, I think it's high time gaming moved on from his work simply because it's been done to death. There's nothing new in that seam and it's long past high time we moved on to more creative pastures.

I think Matt is in the right here, on both points. Everyone is free to take what stances they want on others' creative work (there are many who won't listen to Wagner's work because of his rather virulent anti-Semitic perspective, for example), but I think moving on from HPL is perhaps more important simply because there's nothing new in continuing to perpetuate it. I say this as an enthusiastic fan of the mythos that have been built up around him and only an occasional fan of his actual writing. Both of the pieces of fiction that I've had published were in collections of Lovecraftian stories. But, like I told the editor of said works, there's nothing new here. SSDD, as it were.

I will not, however, toss away my copy of Cthulhu Wars just yet, since I haven't even had a chance to play it...
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 07:17 by Hatchling #283186
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Thanks, Barnes, for your always thoughtful blog and comments. It is an interesting and important topic.

So much of game inspiration comes from thoughts about the supernatural, unknown, otherworldly, fantastical, and so on. While those ideas and feelings speak to something universal and shared -- our vulnerability to forces beyond our control, our mortality, our superstitions and fears, etc -- they are also bound up with the racism, sexism (witches), anti-semetism, xenophobia and irrational hatred that turns people who are different or marginalized into scapegoats for the evils and dangers in the world and within us.

I bet there is a ton written on this, but one book that i heard about recently and what to read that sort of taps into these issues is Bunk, by Kevin Young.
Bunk, by Kevin Young.. The connection between hoaxes, superstitions and racism is there, and that can easily be extended to provide a window into how tropes about the strange and unusual in fantasy writing can belong to the same history.

I hope these problems spur the creative minds among us to use ideas of fantasy and the otherworldly to pursue a better cultural history.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 07:41 by Black Barney #283187
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In all seriousness, I’m wondering if it makes sense to discount or disregard art because of the acts of the artist. This is very different than disregarding the work of Mengele or something, that I can get behind.

If there is obvious racism in the work, then yeah I think I’d be uncomfortable with that. But say I was a big fan of Cthulhu and had a cool art piece of him (it?) in my house, then one of my best friends, a Haitian, comes over and says, « ... um... wasn’t Lovecraft a class A dick? »

I don’t know. I think I’d just say, « yeah for sure, but that’s not Lovecraft, I’m not hanging David Duke posters in my house or anything »

Like I’m not going to ever pretend that Manhattan isn’t an amazing movie just because Woody Allen’s sexual drive might be a tad deviant

Great write up just the same Barnes, I find myself thinking a lot about it and I read it yesterday
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 08:48 by stoic #283189
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Lovecraft possessed the same human frailty and vices that have plagued all of humanity ever since Grog the caveman exited his cave, whether that be racism, bigotry, prejudice, stereotyping, avarice, envy, greed etc. I personally want to punish Lovecraft for coming up with words used for the names of his Elder Gods and Ancient Ones since I can neither spell them nor pronounce them. Fuck Cthulhu! How are you supposed to spell or pronounce that? Yet, what genius it took to create those words since they represent something clearly otherworldly and contrary to ordinary experience--it transports the reader somewhere else.

Regardless, I want a Cthulhu themed kite to fly in the sky just like in the video below of the Octopus kite. That would be so cool!


Posted: 17 Oct 2018 08:58 by BaronDonut #283190
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I think the question of how to separate art from artist (or whether this is even possible) is one of the defining questions of our current cultural moment. What does it mean to be an ethical consumer? It's a fraught and difficult conversation. Historically we've put up with a lot of bullshit from our most beloved artists, excusing pretty much any behavior or sidelining it due to the artist's "genius." The difficult and tortured savant has become an engrained part of our consciousness, and it's made even more difficult due to the shift in cultural values over time. Should we hold artists of another age to the same standard we hold artists to today? Does a boycott matter when the creator is no longer around to profit from their problematic ideas? I don't know, exactly, though I think it's worthwhile to consider what our culture might look like if we prioritized the inclusion of others over problematic works of genius, or our own satisfaction as fans.

Of course, all art is a reflection of its times, and I think it's interesting to look at the current glut of Lovecraft products and ask: what are they saying about the current moment? And I think the answer is... nothing. They've carefully sanded away the most obvious signifier's of Lovecraft's shitty ideas, but fail to actually replace it with anything other than a hollow sense of comfort, familiarity, and "fun." And they are fun! Well, some of them. I like the Arkham Horror LCG as much as anyone, but the beats it hits and the themes it explores are rote and empty. It succeeds despite this empty reference, due to mechanical and storytelling ingenuity, but what if it was based on a set of ideas and characters and mythologies that weren't beaten to death and sucked dry for every edible morsel?

The answer is simple, of course, which is that Lovecraft is recognizable and easy and (most importantly) free. And as long as people keep buying it, well, why on earth would they stop? Why invest in new IPs that require effort and imagination and (god forbid) a writer or two to pay when you can trot out the old stuff to get gobbled up? And why in the world would you approach the Mythos in a way that questions or critiques because then maybe folks wouldn't buy a bunch of goddamn miniatures?
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 10:41 by Michael Barnes #283196
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I just started reading Lovecraft Country and this early passage really struck me. Atticus is the main character, a black sci-fi fan in the 1950s. His uncle, George, is too. The racism of Burroughs, Lovecraft, and other pulp writers is a subject of family debate:

“I do love them,” George agreed. “But stories are like people, Atticus. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect. You try to cherish their virtues and overlook their flaws. The flaws are still there, though.” “But you don’t get mad. Not like Pop does.” “No, that’s true, I don’t get mad. Not at stories. They do disappoint me sometimes.” He looked at the shelves. “Sometimes, they stab me in the heart.”

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anything that strikes right at what white privilege means when reading a book, watching a movie, or playing a game where non-whites are either under- or mis- represented. The love for the stories is there...but an awareness of the tragedy of racism is too. I can imagine that a lot of People of Color who are genre fans relate directly to this passage and the sadness it expresses.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 11:04 by blatz #283199
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Lovecraft has always been a tough one for me when it come to separating the art from the artist. I have no problem loving music, books, paintings, etc made by people who are repulsive human beings as long as the art itself isn't an expression of racism or other hatred. I mean, if my appreciation of art hinged on whether or not the creator was somebody I could morally identify with, I'd probably be missing out on most of the great works of our time.

With Lovecraft, though, the racism is so embedded in the actual work that I don't feel comfortable enough with it to want to play games in his world. I can appreciate his works for the influence they've had and I don't think we should run from it or hold book burnings but I think we should also NOT be okay with his worldview because of the times he lived in. It's insulting to the people who DID live those times and who DIDN'T believe like he did.

I certainly would never judge anybody who enjoys the Mythos and I do understand that most the of "Lovecraft" has been sanded away from them over time but, for me, I will choose to spend my make-believe time in a different setting.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 11:05 by ChristopherMD #283200
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To help all of you who don't want to toss your Lovecraft games I will be setting up a Kickstarter next month for some game covers. It will include various sizes of white sheets that you can slide over your games so they're unrecognizable. Below is a prototype only.

Posted: 17 Oct 2018 11:23 by Erik Twice #283201
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BaronDonut wrote:
What does it mean to be an ethical consumer? It's a fraught and difficult conversation. Historically we've put up with a lot of bullshit from our most beloved artists, excusing pretty much any behavior or sidelining it due to the artist's "genius."
I don't think people can or ought to regulate ethics by consumption. It is not the role of the consumer to do so and buying stuff is not a path to ethics. Quite simply, the idea that consumption is a way to enforce ethics in society is pure capitalist nonsense.

Regarding artist behaviour, I don't think it is the role of the consumer to judge or demand artists think or conduct themselves in a particular way. Being a buyer does not entitle you to judge the behaviour of an artist anymore than it entitles people to judge the behaviour of a waiter or a cashier just because they happen to pay them.

By the same rule, artists shouldn't be entitled to protection other people do not have just because they are well-liked or famous. People should not excuse someone's racism, rape or whatever awful behaviour because they like someone. Again, it's not the consumer's role to care about what artist do or say.

--

I also want to note: In 99% of cases, the people affected by boycotts and other "ethical consumption" measures are not racists, serial harrasers or bigots but the usual targets of hate: Women, transexuals, black people, lesbians, etc, etc. Think about all the recent nerd or gaming outrages? Who has been the target?
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 11:25 by Black Barney #283202
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Good point Erik. The boycott of Chick-Fil-A ended up bolstering their revenues like crazy as advocates for traditional marriage started flooding their shops every Wednesday.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 11:30 by Gary Sax #283203
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Wait, so you guys are trying to tell me that consumer boycotts don't work? Definitely tell that to the civil rights movement. Or South African apartheid regime.

To say that it isn't the consumer's "role" to think about what they consume or how, I both cannot disagree with that strongly enough while simultaneously acknowledging the *practical* deep hypocrisy that every OECD capitalist resident goes through on a day to day---no ethical consumption under capitalism, etc.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 11:34 by Black Barney #283204
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I can't speak for Erik, but I think we're saying that they cause unintended consequences.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 12:03 by Michael Barnes #283206
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ChristopherMD wrote:
To help all of you who don't want to toss your Lovecraft games I will be setting up a Kickstarter next month for some game covers. It will include various sizes of white sheets that you can slide over your games so they're unrecognizable. Below is a prototype only.


A Klan hood for Cthulhu games????
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 12:09 by Space Ghost #283207
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Posted: 17 Oct 2018 13:53 by Michael Barnes #283213
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That is a great visualization of Lovecraft’s worldview, Spece Ghost.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 15:25 by hotseatgames #283217
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ChristopherMD wrote:
To help all of you who don't want to toss your Lovecraft games I will be setting up a Kickstarter next month for some game covers. It will include various sizes of white sheets that you can slide over your games so they're unrecognizable. Below is a prototype only.


As long as it comes with a Cthulhu the size of a Fiat, I'm in.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 15:27 by Erik Twice #283218
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Gary Sax wrote:
Wait, so you guys are trying to tell me that consumer boycotts don't work? Definitely tell that to the civil rights movement. Or South African apartheid regime.
Can you think of a single consumer boycott in gaming or even nerd culture as a whole that was successful?

There has never been one. For real, I can't think of any time a consumer boycott was successful. In fact, I can only think of campaigns that massively backfired. All the boycotts and negative coverage about Hatred and HuniePop only managed to turn them into a success and stuff like Mass Effect: Andromeda ended up with women getting harrassed.
To say that it isn't the consumer's "role" to think about what they consume or how, I both cannot disagree with that strongly enough while simultaneously acknowledging the *practical* deep hypocrisy that every OECD capitalist resident goes through on a day to day---no ethical consumption under capitalism, etc.
It's the consumer's role to think about what they consume, but it's not their role to act as moral arbiter of artists or other workers.

The thing is, it's not even hypocresy, it's impossibility. Consumers can't be moral arbiters. The whole idea of consumers "paying with their wallets" is flawed and does not work. You cannot be a "good consumer" that buys only ethical products. It's absolutely pointless and does snot lead to change. Even worse, it puts the onus on being ethical on the consumer instead of the people behaving unethically. And even if it did lead to change, it would be economic power dictating societal ethics, not fairness.

Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think societal ethics should be controlled by consumers but by laws, regulations and judges. And if these issues aren't enough to be regulated by laws and judges, why should a consumer use his economic power to force them? And why artists? We don't have this conversation about any other type of worker except, perhaps, teachers. And I don't think artists are really a different kind of worker, they are the same as any other.

Note how game companies are more than happy with having consumers boycott but scramble and scream the moment Belgium bans lootboxes.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 15:54 by Shellhead #283220
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Michael Barnes wrote:
I just started reading Lovecraft Country and this early passage really struck me. Atticus is the main character, a black sci-fi fan in the 1950s. His uncle, George, is too. The racism of Burroughs, Lovecraft, and other pulp writers is a subject of family debate:

“I do love them,” George agreed. “But stories are like people, Atticus. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect. You try to cherish their virtues and overlook their flaws. The flaws are still there, though.” “But you don’t get mad. Not like Pop does.” “No, that’s true, I don’t get mad. Not at stories. They do disappoint me sometimes.” He looked at the shelves. “Sometimes, they stab me in the heart.”

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anything that strikes right at what white privilege means when reading a book, watching a movie, or playing a game where non-whites are either under- or mis- represented. The love for the stories is there...but an awareness of the tragedy of racism is too. I can imagine that a lot of People of Color who are genre fans relate directly to this passage and the sadness it expresses.

Lovecraft Country is a great book. It manages to capture the zeitgeist of an era from a neglected perspective. I found the racism to be more harrowing than the occult elements. I am looking forward to Jordan Peale and HBO's interpretation of the book.

I suppose Lovecraft keeps getting dragged over the coals here because his mythos has become a popular setting for modern boardgames. And he is conveniently dead and unable to either defend himself or make amends. Meanwhile, an apparent pedophile like Piers Anthony is never criticized here, even though his perversion is more prominent in some of his writing than Lovecraft's.

I've said it before and I will say it again here: Lovecraft was a despicable racist but his creativity and writing are too influential to be ignored. I realize it is easier to simply hate a creator and all of his works for racism, but I believe it is equally possible to despise the flawed human creator while still appreciating his work. Unless, as others have said here, the racism is central to the work. Also, I don't believe that consumers or fans have a duty to thoroughly examine the beliefs of every artist and writer that they appreciate. I'm a big fan of Michael Moorcock, but I can't tell you much about him aside from the fact that he is English and he played in a band called Hawkwind. Maybe he is a closet Nazi or an anti-vaxxer or a member of the Flat Earth Society.

Racism is an easy target, but what about misogyny? I am willing to be that an awful lot of popular male actors, directors, writers, musicians, etc have treated women poorly and in a sexist manner at some point in their lives. Or to make it more personal, I would be amazed if nobody at this site ever did something worthy of criticism by the #MeToo movement. Do we start throwing out our possessions by the shovel load in protest? Mass bannings here? Or do we recognize that men in general have treated women poorly throughout history, and then simply try to do better from here on out?
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 16:42 by mtagge #283223
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Not to derail too much, but how much of Lovecraft's writings is in an actual game of, say, Arkham Horror? The few things of Lovecraft I tried to read about the only thing they had in common with the game was an emotion, not any actual content.

I think I heard years ago most of the content from these games actually comes from the RPG in the 80s (70s?).

Honest question as I never actually read anything but the shortest of his stories and they were far removed from any "lovecraft" game I've ever played.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 16:44 by Michael Barnes #283225
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Lots of great points and food for thought here- this is why TWBG is the best place to talk about games and gaming-related issues. Even politics.

Shell's comment about misogyny is especially important. If we cleanse misogynistic content and creators from the cultural canon...wow. Goodbye Led Zeppelin, NWA, any number of pre-20th century authors and painters, Tolkien, many composers, etc. etc. etc. I don't think anyone is willing to cut that deep, and we start to run into that issue where we _shouldn't_ be cutting that deep.

I don't think this is an absolute issue to be honest. It is about determining what your comfort level is and what you are willing to trade with creators that are less than paragons of virtue and decency. I've decided that what Lovecraft gives me today- which is, as many have pointed out, incredibly -boring- at this stage- is not worth the racist baggage it comes with. I can enjoy the things that Lovecraft influenced - such as, in fact, Lovecraft Country - and appreciate the sense of moving the elements I like forward from hatefulness and troublesome politics.

Nobody is saying "Lovecraft sucks". At The Mountains of Madness is an incredible genre story...written by a racist and informed by his racist worldview. It's not on the consumer to police creators and scrutinize every aspect of their personal lives and psyches to search for -isms, -phobias, and other negative positions. But I do think it is on the consumer to be aware of established knowledge and understanding of the contexts into which these creations were birthed.

One thing I was thinking about, unconnected to the political issues here, is just how incredibly LAZY it is to attach Lovecraft anything to a game now. Back during the Spirit of '06 when the Ameritrash thing was roaring, there was a lot of railing against Eurogames for repeating the same subjects and concepts. But now, I'd be willing to bet there are actually more gaming SKUs with Lovecraft subject matter than renaissance trading or classical monument building. Imagine if that stupid giant Cthulhu game were a completely new IP instead of yet another rehash and it had a giant NEW monster of some kind...I'd be much more interested in that if it were telling a new story instead of cloning the FFG mythos, which is fundamentally based on racist fiction.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 16:46 by Michael Barnes #283226
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mtagge wrote:
Not to derail too much, but how much of Lovecraft's writings is in an actual game of, say, Arkham Horror? The few things of Lovecraft I tried to read about the only thing they had in common with the game was an emotion, not any actual content.

I think I heard years ago most of the content from these games actually comes from the RPG in the 80s (70s?).

Honest question as I never actually read anything but the shortest of his stories and they were far removed from any "lovecraft" game I've ever played.

This is very true! And it gets back to the notion that the Chaosium/FFG mythos is actually a different strand.

But the sublimated racist content is still there- suspicious black people, evil foreigners, barbaric/subhuman non-whites...
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 17:02 by Erik Twice #283228
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That was a fantastic post Barnes, thanks a lot for writing it. I'm not saying much directly related to the topic because I dont really have a position on it but I do understand you. It's not really the same, but I suppose it's how I feel about games with Nazis in them. I'm just too aware of the baggage and the "oh, but they are the bad guys", "it's satire" and the like become very tiring, even if they are true and logical explanations.
Michael Barnes wrote:
This is very true! And it gets back to the notion that the Chaosium/FFG mythos is actually a different strand.

But the sublimated racist content is still there- suspicious black people, evil foreigners, barbaric/subhuman non-whites...
This reminds me that Arkahm Horror has a Gypsy Camp which lays all the typical prejudice against them. They steal from you, they cast evil eye on you, they read your future/your palm, that kind of stuff. It's glaring because the game is very "Progressive" in other ways, putting all women into anti-stereotypical roles denoting power and featuring black characters but then it has this very dated, unexplored prejudice in it.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 18:07 by SaMoKo #283231
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Lovecraft’s works is bigger than he is, they outgrew him. And he’s long dead so fuck him.

Guy was an asshole by today’s standards, and likey on the extremist side in his own time and place. But he died mostly alone and miserable, so there’s a lesson to be learned!
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 18:47 by Sevej #283233
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MattDP wrote:
Sevej wrote:
But I'm also curious. Both your writing, and the dudette on the other site show no example.

Heap of racist garbage.

Woah, THAT's bad. I mean, I thought it'd something like James Clavell style of writing, in which European and Chinese describe their counterpart as beneath them (unlawful liars/uncultured human trash--but me and some of my Chinese friends actually feel this is very, very accurate!).
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 19:15 by jeb #283235
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I thought a lot of games used Lovecraft Country because he fucked up all his copyrights and they lapsed so it was free. IP costs money, usually. That's why DUNE is awesome and REX is shit. I know there's some grumbling about Derleth's stuff, but most of this stuff is free-as-in-Robinson-Crusoe. Go for it.

I am confronting something similar with my kids, who adore the collected works of Carl Barks. His Donald Duck comics and Uncle Scrooge comics are fucking stellar. They are also racist as fuuuuuuuuck. I mean, look at this shit:


There's some coding, and ME NO RIKEY level accents, all kinds of problematic stuff. And that's how I talk about it with my kids. It's racist. That's the word I use. I call this out. I call out the dog whistles in Ted Cruz's ads, I call out folks that talked about getting "gypped" or even "JEWED" which, I mean, holy shit. The kids go visit (Saint!) Junipero Serra's mission on a field trip and we talk about enslaving locals and genocide by cultural annihilation.

When we play Lovecraft stuff, I call out how narrow the world can be. A whole continent of the most diverse cultures on the planet is reduced to "oogah-boogah" bullshit. The guy was born, lived, and died between Providence and Brooklyn.* He was not a worldly man. Should I throw ARKHAM HORROR out the window because he was a racist shitbag? I hope you don't drive a Ford, I guess.

*(which terrified him, natch).
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 19:48 by SaMoKo #283236
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If you drive a Ford, racism is the least of your problems. Your F150 is about to have its entire electrical system shit out.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 19:58 by mtagge #283238
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jeb wrote:
When we play Lovecraft stuff, I call out how narrow the world can be. A whole continent of the most diverse cultures on the planet is reduced to "oogah-boogah" bullshit. The guy was born, lived, and died between Providence and Brooklyn.* He was not a worldly man. Should I throw ARKHAM HORROR out the window because he was a racist shitbag? I hope you don't drive a Ford, I guess.

*(which terrified him, natch).
To play a little devil's advocate, isn't the "oogah-boogah" bullshit the theme? Even in AH the library and science center have the same mystical stuff, it is just mad scientists instead of a gypsy.

I mean I do see the larger point, but AH is nothing without theme (as tainted as it might be). Cthulhu Wars is a bit different, but don't have the same level of taint.

I dunno, I just think it is pulp more than there is intent in the modern stuff. The writings however are horrible, but I wasn't even a fan of his writing style.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 20:10 by san il defanso #283239
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Jeb, I've been reading a lot of Asterix and Tintin with my kids, and I'm experiencing the same thing. It has required a lot of discussion about racism and white attitudes toward other cultures, as well as discussions on alcoholism. I think they've been able to understand some of the context, but I sometimes find myself seeing deeper associations with colonialism, as well as overt sexism that sneaks into some of the later Asterix books. (Looking at you, Asterix and the Secret Weapon.)

That said, in the case of Herge especially it's also been an opportunity to discuss learning about other cultures. As the Tintin series went on it became a much more global series, with a sense that other cultures and ethnicities are not scary or "other". There are faults with some of those characters, but they generally aren't tied to their race or ethnicity. It's not a perfect transition of course. The Africans in "The Red Sea Sharks" are still pretty bad, and the portrayal of the Japanese in "The Blue Lotus" makes me a little uncomfortable, although in that case they don't have the "me no rikey" portrayal (in English anyway). There's room to learn, and I'm thankful that some of that is present in the comics.

As for Lovecraft, I don't have any particular attachment so I don't have many strong feelings either. I do get why someone would want to just leave the whole thing behind though, and don't blame anyone for making that call.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 20:30 by GorillaGrody #283241
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In 2015, I was fortunate enough to have a story published in a horror anthology. That anthology won a World Fantasy Award for its editors. My pride in that award was compounded, because that was the year the WFA stopped featuring an image of Lovecraft on the statuette.

Lovecraft's mere likeness, transformed into a totem of worthiness, truly "shaves the rough edges off," as BaronDonut put it. The open fascists (do yourself a favor and don't google the name Vox Day) who opposed the change against made this same argument, the whatabouitist cultural argument; that by throwing out the bad with an artist like Lovecraft, we throw out the supposed good. Bullshit.

Lovecraft is an important writer to me because, in his privilege, in his exposure of the maze in his cowardly little soul, in his fear of the alien, in his pure, shuddering reaction against the progression of human progress and knowledge, he is perhaps the only coherent far-right-wing writer who's ever written. That's valuable. The horror I get from Lovecraft--that any white man gets from him--is that, but for some trauma or life change or twist of inner cruelty, I might have become the same sort of mincing, racist coward. There's pleasure in trying on Lovecraft's coat, and, for people who aren't shitbags, a greater pleasure in rejecting it. I wouldn't impose that rare and weird pleasure on anyone who wasn't a white man.

Shaving the rough edges off of Lovecraft, making it all "just monsters," makes it all worse. Like all incoherent right-wing thinking, it uses the twin prophylactics of spectacle and sentimentality to make it easier to wear Lovecraft's coat and not take it off.

Monsters can become humanized. Lovecraft's mission was to monsterize humans. That can't be sanitized. I wouldn't erase it from history, and I wouldn't erase Mein Kampf or Atlas Shrugged either. I'd just put it in a section of the library called, "Read Something That's Not Bullshit First."

...

PS I like the Arkham Horror LCG from a mechanical standpoint, but I'm glad it can be played solo. The idea of introducing any friend outside of my immediate circle to Fantasy Flight's embarrassing, jazzmen-and-voodoo-princesses idea of "multiculturalism" makes me shudder. It's an obvious byproduct of the sanitation of an irredeemable source.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 21:46 by SuperflyTNT #283243
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By the same token:

- Renounce your citizenship because you paid for innocents to be murdered by people you voted for, and those same people allowed people to be tortured, and immigrant families to be separated, and the entire world to be spies upon

- Renounce Puerto Rico (the game) as it is a simulation of the enslavement of tens of thousands and the exploitation of the Táino.

- Renounce printed board games as they were made using oil plucked from the ground by despots who murder their people for the simple belief that it’s OK to not believe in a religion, or to love a person of their same sex (or to drive a car, not wear a hood, etc)

- Renounce film as Hollywood culture propagates misogyny and rape culture


You see my point yet? It’s all connected. Taking a stand on a guy who was a cunt, but a cunt in an endless sea of cunts, is far less sensible than rejecting your own nation, or cars, or plastics, or many, many other things.

I’m not being snarky, I’m dead serious. The world is and shall remain a fucked up place, and renouncing one man who was absolutely a product of his time for not being more forward thinking is arguably ludicrous. It’s certainly more ludicrous than renouncing your citizenship in an immoral nation NOW.
Posted: 17 Oct 2018 22:02 by GorillaGrody #283244
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SuperflyTNT wrote:


You see my point yet? It’s all connected.

With respect, the world is full of interconnections and contingencies. I can be against the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and still be in favor of programs that protect veterans. We can get rid of Lovecraft and Vox Day and still (whatever, take your pick) eat beef in full knowledge that beef production is a major factor in deforestation and climate change. We have become a culture that points out enormous hypocrisies in order to circumvent practical solutions. At best, it's apathetic. At worst, it's a form of nihilism.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 00:06 by Not Sure #283246
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So where are you moving to, Pete?

Or is the logical endgame there "accept HP Lovecraft or you can't call yourself an American?"

I realize GG pushed some buttons with the term "right-wing". I don't really agree with that analysis at all, I just think HPL was shockingly fucking racist. Even within his time, this was an abnormal level of fear and hatred. However, the Southern Democrats at the time were busy electing Woodrow Wilson, who could give HPL a run for his money in the racism stakes. History isn't pretty. We should all leave the left/right stuff in the "thread we shall not name, because you know where to find it"

Now, it's okay to say "I don't want to engage with that, it's shockingly fucking racist". Barnes isn't putting HPL out of print, or even demanding anyone else stop buying Cthulhu Wars. It's just his personal take. I mostly agree. Everything I liked about the Cthulhu settings was really just pulpiness more than anything.

For people who enjoyed Lovecraft Country, the book, I also highly recommend The Ballad of Black Tom, which is a Mythos story written by a black writer. There's an interesting NPR transcript of an interview here, where the author (Victor LaValle) discusses reading HPL as a kid, and how the racism just sort of passed over him until he got to a certain age: www.npr.org/2016/02/29/468558238/the-bal...ritique-of-lovecraft

Interesting stuff, and I think BBT is mentioned in the thank-yous of Lovecraft Country as well.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 01:20 by Hadik #283247
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Not Sure wrote:
So where are you moving to, Pete?

Superfly (may I call you Pete?) wrote and posted something that basically I wrote and then canceled yesterday and I support his view. Giving up a game theme linked to a racist source is easy for someone struggling to do what’s right. But when scrambling up the moral high ground there are many false peaks. You reach one only to see another one high - so high - above you. Like any normal person you count the cost and make a decision about how high you want to go. Pete is pointing out the mountainous high ground towering above us that reaches into heavens and where, we tell ourselves, only saints can breath.

Generally we all stay put at some point. The temptation is to start comparing the elevation of the ground we occupy to that of others and playing the game that by going a few feet more I can feel better about myself in comparison to those around me. Then someone shouts down at me from their perch and I climb a bit further to restore my view that I’m a good person. It’s fucking endless these days.

But.... what’s the real impact and have we simply become the Pharisees?

Is that what Michael is doing in publicly renouncing HPL? Taking a cheap stand to point out the speck of dust in our eyes? I read it carefully and did spot a “we” in there ... e.g. “we must move on” or something like that. It rankled me.

But I don’t think so. I’m going to guess that he has decided to add his voice to the chorus and influence the hobby in a positive direction. He may say he’s only stating a personal moment of enlightenment but it’s obvious he’s a paid influencer and knows the impact he can have. Sorry to use the third person Michael. I enjoyed your post and I enjoy this convo.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 03:26 by Whoshim #283249
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Michael Barnes wrote:
If we cleanse misogynistic content and creators from the cultural canon...wow. Goodbye Led Zeppelin, NWA, any number of pre-20th century authors and painters, Tolkien, many composers, etc. etc. etc. I don't think anyone is willing to cut that deep, and we start to run into that issue where we _shouldn't_ be cutting that deep.

I have enjoyed reading through this conversation because I think that these issues are good to think about. I tend to think that we each have to decide what we are comfortable with (as others have said). I have not read Lovecraft at all, and I have played none of the games directly related to his stuff.

However, I feel compelled to jump in about Tolkien. I do not know Led Zeppelin or NWA enough to comment, but I do feel that I know Tolkien well enough.

If we are going to label Tolkien misogynist, we may as well just throw out the term. There are only two (very weak) attacks against him in that direction that I can see (though I am willing to be corrected).

The first is related to the number of female characters in his works. I think that just going by number of characters is a bit silly. Should all works of fiction have an exactly 50/50 male to female ratio? Certainly there should be room for works that shift away from that in either direction.

The other attack would be to state that the female characters in Tolkien follow old-fashioned gender stereotypes. This could be answered in a few ways, but I think that a closer look at the female characters that are in his work are powerful and independent. Most of them are married, but I think that Tolkien celebrated marriage (as the Catholic church and Christians in general do). Though married, Arwen, Luthien, and Galadriel are not hampered by it. Marriage is considered a good thing, and I think that a good marriage is a very good thing. There is nothing inherently misogynistic in celebrating marriage - I would think that it is something of the opposite.

When charges of racism, sexism, and the like get tossed around without a strong basis, it weakens those words. I tell my sons to be very, very careful and have very solid evidence before they employ the words "liar" and "cheater". Those are serious accusations to make.

The evidence for Lovecraft being a racist seems strong to me. The evidence for Tolkien being a misogynist is laughable (the above arguments in favor of Tolkien are not exhaustive or well articulated - they are brief and the best I can do at the moment).
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 05:51 by Black Barney #283251
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Hearing the way you guys are talking, it’s almost as if I’m supposed to feel guilty for owning all this Nazi memorabilia.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 06:24 by Pat II #283252
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Black Barney wrote:
Hearing the way you guys are talking, it’s almost as if I’m supposed to feel guilty for owning all this Nazi memorabilia.

That depends...has it been sanitized yet? Fazi the Nazi Teddy?
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 06:32 by GorillaGrody #283253
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Whoshim wrote:
If we are going to label Tolkien misogynist, we may as well just throw out the term. There are only two (very weak) attacks against him in that direction that I can see (though I am willing to be corrected).

The first is related to the number of female characters in his works. I think that just going by number of characters is a bit silly. Should all works of fiction have an exactly 50/50 male to female ratio? Certainly there should be room for works that shift away from that in either direction.

The other attack would be to state that the female characters in Tolkien follow old-fashioned gender stereotypes. This could be answered in a few ways, but I think that a closer look at the female characters that are in his work are powerful and independent. Most of them are married, but I think that Tolkien celebrated marriage (as the Catholic church and Christians in general do). Though married, Arwen, Luthien, and Galadriel are not hampered by it. Marriage is considered a good thing, and I think that a good marriage is a very good thing. There is nothing inherently misogynistic in celebrating marriage - I would think that it is something of the opposite.


I had always thought that the beef against Tolkien was that he set up this archetype of the dwindling West vs. barbaric, crafty, and subhuman hordes. This was Morcock's argument from way, way back, and still rings true: www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/anti-tolkien

However, there are important distinctions to be made between Tolkien and Lovecraft. Tolkien had fought in WWI, which complicates his relationship to a dwindling West and European barbarism. He was a first-rate scholar, and a deep-diving collector of mythic archetypes. He was also a good writer, whom Auden praised upon first reading the Hobbit. Certainly, the omission of women is on a par with all sorts of other adventure fiction of the time, and it's important to remind ourselves that women went on "adventures" and witnessed the full brunt of European "barbarism," during Tolkien's war, and that's not been properly explored because women were not allowed to bear witness to their own experiences. (Women are still fighting that fight, especially in F and SF.) In short, there is a great deal of good to be taken with the bad in Tolkien. This isn't hypocrisy, and if it is, then there's no point in comparing one idea with another, or in shedding old ideas for new. It's just points we get for pointing it out from the comfort of our absolute inertia, points we can't spend on anything. "Find the hypocrisy" is a game that liberals on the right and left have been playing for years now, and it's a disaster.

By contrast, Lovecraft was purely representative of a strain of middle-class, middlebrow American ultrarightism which has gone unchanged for a hundred years. He was afraid of non-whites, female bodies, and the idea of biological evolution, learned just enough about these things to freak himself out even more, and so decided he would hide in his little apartment, in his little town, and write stories about miscegenated vagina monsters until he died. Lovecraft is useful in two, binary ways: 1) as an example of how psychoactively, hilariously strong the fear response is, particularly in the American conservative mindset and 2) as a cautionary example against same. There's literally nothing else redeemable about him.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 07:23 by Erik Twice #283257
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jeb wrote:
I am confronting something similar with my kids, who adore the collected works of Carl Barks. His Donald Duck comics and Uncle Scrooge comics are fucking stellar. They are also racist as fuuuuuuuuck. I mean, look at this shit:
This is actually a great example because it was handled very well by Don Rosa in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Rather than ignoring what was an off-character depiction of Scrooge and a racist story he used it to show colonization, with Scrooge crossing the line into a robber baron and driving a tribe out of their lands. Here Zoola (the black character) is depicted without the racist features like big lips and exaggerated nose and explicitely calls out Scrooge, sarcastically calling him "white master" and making it clear that he is but an imperialist thief. He is also hostile and dangerous and not easily tricked, not an idiot. Also, while I cannot say, his speech seems to resemble a real language and probably is, instead of being stereotypical AAVE.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 10:17 by Not Sure #283271
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Hadik wrote:
But I don’t think so. I’m going to guess that he has decided to add his voice to the chorus and influence the hobby in a positive direction. He may say he’s only stating a personal moment of enlightenment but it’s obvious he’s a paid influencer and knows the impact he can have. Sorry to use the third person Michael. I enjoyed your post and I enjoy this convo.

What's the point of having a platform if you aren't going to use it?

I mean, the counterargument that I've seen so far is "So what. There's always something worse." Michael's hardly got a platform to discuss Saudi-US relations (as one of the offered examples). It's a nerd culture site, and this is right in the lane.

For all that I vehemently disagree with GorillaGrody's take on HPL as "right-wing" rather than "blue-blood New England racist", I very strongly agree with his followup post that "fuck it, everything's worse, your shit doesn't matter, stop bumming me out" is a basically nihilist view. I can't get behind that.

If the article causes anyone to examine their views on HPL and Mythos-derived stuff and decide they don't want to be a consumer of it, that's okay. If they examine their views and decide they're cool with the Chaosium/FFG pulp iteration of things despite the sources, that's okay. If they come away thinking "man this HPL guy was really right on!" I'm going to be pretty disappointed, but at least they thought about it. A little introspection is a good thing, and that's how I read this article.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 10:29 by Not Sure #283273
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GorillaGrody wrote:
By contrast, Lovecraft was purely representative of a strain of middle-class, middlebrow American ultrarightism which has gone unchanged for a hundred years. He was afraid of non-whites, female bodies, and the idea of biological evolution, learned just enough about these things to freak himself out even more, and so decided he would hide in his little apartment, in his little town, and write stories about miscegenated vagina monsters until he died.

Nothing about this was remotely right-wing, especially at the time. There were lots of full-fledged racists on all sides of economic theory (example: Wilson, as I stated). I'm about as lefty as you'll find on the site, but I really think continuing to paint HPL as "right-wing" is just baiting the right-leaning members of the site, and incorrect. We have a whole Trash Talk section for that. I stopped going there for my own mental health. The defection of Southern Democrats to the GOP after Johnson completely changed the left/right landscape with regard to race as political policy, and that was long after HPL was dead.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 10:45 by Colorcrayons #283274
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To reinforce Not Sure's last paragraph:

Posted: 18 Oct 2018 10:50 by SuperflyTNT #283275
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The thing I see is this: It's very good to discuss the moral implications of this kind of thing. It's healthy and positive. But this damned positioning and virtue signaling that these always turn into is ridiculous and lacks any meaningful result. Mike Tyson was a wifebeating rapist. He isn't anymore. At what point do we forgive people their trespasses, especially when THEY DIDN'T DO IT TO YOU?

Lovecraft was racist, no doubt. It's also worth considering that during his life, blacks weren't allowed to vote. The only truly damning thing I see with regard to his racism is that racial suffrage ended 3 years into his writing career - he literally was alive when blacks got the right to vote, and thus he had two choices - cling to the past's racism or move forward and progress. I've heard tale of his recanting his racism, but I've also heard that it was a weak renouncement. So, I am not educated enough to say if he did or not. So, I will assume that he lived a racist and died a racist. At the end of the day, he's long dead, and his writings aren't some sort of a propagation of racism and no Whitey Cracker KKK member to my knowledge ever used him as a beacon to support their views. "Blacks suck because HP Lovecraft said so" is not something I've ever heard, nor could I imagine that anyone would ever even think that.

So, the question regarding his racist view is whether his racist stuff has caused anyone else to become racist. I doubt that highly. I think, at best, it's his own personal hangup and some of the subtle stuff slipped into his writing, which didn't affect the whole of his writing's impact. He created Cthulhu, not KKK.

Do what y'all want, but for my own part, Lovecraft's racism is such a minor, minor portion of his overall writing that nobody remembers it directly. I mean, think of how many characters and places you can think of off of the top of your head, how many stories you can name, and then ask yourself how many times he said something racist and how impactful that comment was to the overall story. I think it's pretty clear that it's a minute part of his overall writing.

I'm still kind of aghast at the fact that anyone is seriously contemplating dismissing him as one of the greatest American writers of his age, perhaps in history, 90 years after his death or so, because he was a bit of a cunt 90 years ago. It's revisionist. He didn't call for the slaughter of blacks, he didn't actively go to rallies to stop black voting...as far as I know the extent of his racism was expressed in perhaps three paragraphs in total, if you stitched all of it together, amidst tens of thousands of pages of text.

Do what you want, and I don't slight you for it, but if you want to fight that battle, accept that the vast majority of rational people will view it as virtue signaling at best and insipidity at worst, when there's REAL battles to be won TODAY, RIGHT NOW. It's literally complaining about the splinter in your neighbor's eye, 90 years after his death, when there's logs in so many people's eyes RIGHT NOW.

Just my 2C. Go with God.

Don't read below. Trust me.
Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 11:18 by GorillaGrody #283280
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Not Sure wrote:
I very strongly agree with his followup post that "fuck it, everything's worse, your shit doesn't matter, stop bumming me out" is a basically nihilist view. I can't get behind that.

I’m not sure about that, because I can’t make it out, but I have a feeling that you’ll hate what I actually said more.

What I actually said, reworded, is that the idea that all contradictory evidence deriving from a single source is mere hypocrisy, and dismissible at face, is contrary to any known process of developing and acting on information. Such an idea promotes inertia. It is the main mode of shit like South Park and Bill Maher, but it’s also replaced most of what counts as news online and on television. No one has anything nice to say about Trump but that he’s supposedly not a hypocrite. And that serves a very specific kind of nihilism which says that, as a white guy, I’m going to live as comfortably as I can until it all goes to shit, at which point I get to use m’guns.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 11:22 by Michael Barnes #283282
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To be clear, I am not a paid influencer. My current income from hobby games writing is $0.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 11:36 by GorillaGrody #283283
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Not Sure wrote:
GorillaGrody wrote:
By contrast, Lovecraft was purely representative of a strain of middle-class, middlebrow American ultrarightism which has gone unchanged for a hundred years. He was afraid of non-whites, female bodies, and the idea of biological evolution, learned just enough about these things to freak himself out even more, and so decided he would hide in his little apartment, in his little town, and write stories about miscegenated vagina monsters until he died.

Nothing about this was remotely right-wing, especially at the time. There were lots of full-fledged racists on all sides of economic theory (example: Wilson, as I stated). I'm about as lefty as you'll find on the site, but I really think continuing to paint HPL as "right-wing" is just baiting the right-leaning members of the site, and incorrect. We have a whole Trash Talk section for that. I stopped going there for my own mental health. The defection of Southern Democrats to the GOP after Johnson completely changed the left/right landscape with regard to race as political policy, and that was long after HPL was dead.

Look, if what I’ve written gets this very interesting thread exiled into the things-the-right-thinks-are-political section, than I’ll truly regret it. Not Sure, I think you’re conflating Democrats with leftists. With a very few exceptions, I consider Democrats—from Southern Democrats to Clinton’s Crime and Welfare Bills—to be thoroughly, historically right wing. That is a New England problem as well as a Southern and Midwestern problem, and it’s one I think we share together.

EDIT: because I really don't want to get into an unproductive back and forth and clog up the topic, my final opinion on Lovecraft and how to handle him are as follows: There aren't these two, separate bad things, called "racism" in one corner, and "politics" in the other. The history of these things is the history of both. It is my further opinion, and the opinion of many others, that to attempt to artificially separate these things--to separate politics from all affairs where they may do good or ill--is a fundamentally right-wing concept. I truly believe that Lovecraft believed that what he did intersected not at all with politics, that he believed he was transcribing eternal truths transcribed in the bones. That's what makes him right wing. And people who defend him on the basis of separating Lovecraft from his politics repeat the error.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 11:43 by SuperflyTNT #283284
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Michael Barnes wrote:
To be clear, I am not a paid influencer. My current income from hobby games writing is $0.

You give away all of your games then?
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 11:56 by moofrank #283286
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The odd thing with the stance is that Lovecraft has pretty much already been weeded out of things "Lovecraftian". Practically all of the modern Lovecraft-tinged games and things are based on the Call of Cthulhu RPG, which is really the thing which defines "Lovecraftian" now.

Most of what is left now from Lovecraft is really just a bunch of god and creature names and a bit of sanitized descriptive flavor text.

Some pretty awful things have crept in from other Pulp genres, of course. When I look at Masks of Nyarlathotep (from the 80's), it is rife with Fu-Manchu Chinese villains, African and Egyptian cults, and the odd bit of fictional Nairobi divided into districts called "Blacktown", "Whitetown", and "Browntown". (The 2018 version as well as the exhaustive Companion systematically replace these bits. This kind of xenophobia is rife through all of 30's pulp, and isn't just Lovecraft.

Purging Lovecraft's writings is one thing, but there is still some very interesting stuff going on in the wake of Lovecraft. I'm inordinately fond of both The Laundry Files and Carter and Lovecraft. The first is a strange commentary on UK government under the guise of being MI5 meets Cthulhu. The second frequently moves the racism issues with Lovecraft front and center by featuring a black woman named Emily Lovecraft who is a distant relation of HP, and not really much of a fan. The second book drifts into a weird Man in the High Castle kind of mode as well.

Really, both of these are the modern form of pulp--written by people who definitely know that "yeah, that crap is wrong."

...and ditching a look at the latest Arkham Horror seems really almost criminal. This is Lovecraft filtered through Nikki Valens...there is no way any of that will filter through her--and after the masterwork of Legacy of Dragonholt, she is probably my favorite designer.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 11:59 by SuperflyTNT #283287
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So, I went back and revisited the article as I kind of dismissed it with an eye roll (my eyes are light sensitive and the Virtue Signal was super bright here).

The things you don’t seem to know about Mexico (as someone who lived there 5 days a week for a year) is this:

Mexicans are racist as fuck. Like, 1000 times more overtly racist than us. They literally do not hire “Indio”’(native Mexicans) and negritos (dark skinned). They see them as subspecies. The fact that they took photos with your kid should have clued you into this. They are xeno as fuck. If you sneak into their country you WILL do prison time.

The difference between us and them is that they accept that people are racist and don’t make a big fuss about it. It’s almost a caste system. So, Mexico is vastly inferior in that regard, as we try to be better.

Just a bit of fact from someone who isn’t a one time visitor who had a revelation. You should travel more. If you want to know what America should be like, regarding race, go to Toronto. They have it down. I lived there for a while and in Montreal (same as in Mexico, on weekdays for a year). Montreal can be very racist.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 12:03 by Hadik #283288
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Michael Barnes wrote:
To be clear, I am not a paid influencer. My current income from hobby games writing is $0.

Sorry I thought GW comped you copies of games.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 12:26 by Michael Barnes #283290
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Comping isn’t the same as getting paid. I do get review copies, almost always because I’ve requested them. But that isn’t income, I’m not paid to write anything. If I sell a game, there is that but it is still not a publisher or venue paying me to influence or whatever.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 12:36 by Colorcrayons #283293
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moofrank wrote:

...and ditching a look at the latest Arkham Horror...

This is Lovecraft filtered through Nikki Valens...there is no way any of that will filter through her...

This is a salient point. One that needs repeating.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 13:17 by Michael Barnes #283295
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This is true- I’ll wait to hear about it before I completely dismiss it. If there is anyone working in games today who could actually subvert the racist subtexts And do something interesting with it...it’s her.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 13:34 by Space Ghost #283296
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Michael -- check you TM; fairly important message.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 13:36 by hotseatgames #283297
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Michael is a reverse influencer. If he sells a comp copy, it tells me he didn't consider it worth owning, even for free. ;)
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 13:37 by SuperflyTNT #283298
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Michael Barnes wrote:
This is true- I’ll wait to hear about it before I completely dismiss it. If there is anyone working in games today who could actually subvert the racist subtexts And do something interesting with it...it’s her.

There’s no level of revisionism that she can do to change the fact that he was racist, though. I mean, you can look at any Mythos after it based on Lovecraft, and no matter how sanitized it is, the fact remains that it stands on the shoulders of a man who was a bit deplorable.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 14:02 by Michael Barnes #283301
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That is also true. But what if she manages to do something that actually puts the racism right up front and confronts it rather than ignoring it or hiding it away...that could be interesting.

But also not likely possible in an FFG/Asmodee game...
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 14:17 by DarthJoJo #283304
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I have to disagree with Superfly regarding the importance of racism to Lovecraft’s writing. I can’t comment on how often it was straight up like that “Creation” poem, but even if he’s right that it was three paragraphs worth across his tens of thousands of pages, he couldn’t have written about mankind as an insignificant speck in a vast, uncaring, even hostile universe without his utter terror and contempt of everyone that wasn’t him. Everywhere outside Providence and his home he saw corruption and fall, and no one saw or cared like him. I’m not going to defend those beliefs, but it must have felt lonely and terrifying. And then those beliefs were written, subliminally or not, into Cthulhu and Innsmouth and all the rest.

I repeat, he could not have written what he wrote without being racist. Maybe not even if he were the lynching type. Then he might have believed it possible to triumph over those evils. I don’t know.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 14:33 by DarthJoJo #283305
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On another note, what would it look like to confront Lovecraft’s racism in a game, in Fantasy Flight’s Arkham Horror Files line? In these books people have been quoting, it works because a not-white character can deal with their conflicting feelings right out, but how do you do that within the universe itself?

Do you treat it like Taymor’s Caliban and make the representation of whatever Great Old One just a regular black or mixed-race guy that’s misunderstood or rightfully angry?
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 14:35 by Pat II #283307
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Human beings are racist - whitey didn't invent it. I live in Toronto which is quite possibly the most integrated place on the planet and it is a joy to watch everyone just try to get along and bitch about the same things. There is racism, of course, not only coming from whitey. I've seen it from all corners unfortunately.

Lovecraft was a scared little douchebag that spun some awesome art from that fear. Whenever you see someone being an ignorant asshole you have to know it comes from fear. Rather than using anger, rage and violence he used a pen to settle himself down. His nerves killed him he was so wound up with fear. As was popular at the time he put down every culture that wasn't WASP. I'm white but also of Irish Catholic descent and undoubtedly a guy like him would look down his nose at me for that reason. It's just the way it was and it sucked.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 17:20 by Not Sure #283312
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GorillaGrody wrote:
Not Sure wrote:
I very strongly agree with his followup post that "fuck it, everything's worse, your shit doesn't matter, stop bumming me out" is a basically nihilist view. I can't get behind that.

I’m not sure about that, because I can’t make it out, but I have a feeling that you’ll hate what I actually said more.

What I actually said, reworded, is that the idea that all contradictory evidence deriving from a single source is mere hypocrisy, and dismissible at face, is contrary to any known process of developing and acting on information. Such an idea promotes inertia. It is the main mode of shit like South Park and Bill Maher, but it’s also replaced most of what counts as news online and on television. No one has anything nice to say about Trump but that he’s supposedly not a hypocrite. And that serves a very specific kind of nihilism which says that, as a white guy, I’m going to live as comfortably as I can until it all goes to shit, at which point I get to use m’guns.

I don't know why you'd feel I would hate that, reworded or not. I agree with what you said in both phrasings, and I was just a lot more glib about how I repeated it.

I'm not going to double-post for the followups (since I was the guy who split the discussion first), so for the second post I think you and I have very different notions of what "left" and "right" mean. If you feel that there's never really been an actual left-wing in American politics, then I could see how we're arguing past each other. This isn't a productive place to hash any of that out, so I can drop it. Be nice to each other on the site was my main point. There are some perfectly good right-tending folks here.
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 17:32 by Not Sure #283313
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
So, the question regarding his racist view is whether his racist stuff has caused anyone else to become racist. I doubt that highly. I think, at best, it's his own personal hangup and some of the subtle stuff slipped into his writing, which didn't affect the whole of his writing's impact. He created Cthulhu, not KKK.

This is a very very low bar. The issue isn't "does his writing make people racist?" The issue is "does this industry need to base such a high amount of its IP on something that's pretty exclusionary to anyone but white males?" What's the upside there? Is it acting as a signal that some people aren't welcome? Those are the questions worth asking.
Do what y'all want, but for my own part, Lovecraft's racism is such a minor, minor portion of his overall writing that nobody remembers it directly. I mean, think of how many characters and places you can think of off of the top of your head, how many stories you can name, and then ask yourself how many times he said something racist and how impactful that comment was to the overall story. I think it's pretty clear that it's a minute part of his overall writing.

Okay. Your prerogative. I'm not even interested in trying to make you feel bad. Different folks can come to different conclusions. I'd say check out the NPR link I put above for a different viewpoint, if you're interested. TWBG really isn't very diverse, so it can get echoey in here.



Regarding the spoiler, I hope you find what makes you happy. The other day I had some Constitutional discussion filtering through my mind, and I knew you'd be a good guy to cross-check with, but I couldn't figure out a non-fighty way to engage on that. That sucks, honestly.
Don't read below. Trust me.

Don't tell me what to do! I do what I want!
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 17:49 by stoic #283314
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Not Sure wrote:
GorillaGrody wrote:
By contrast, Lovecraft was purely representative of a strain of middle-class, middlebrow American ultrarightism which has gone unchanged for a hundred years. He was afraid of non-whites, female bodies, and the idea of biological evolution, learned just enough about these things to freak himself out even more, and so decided he would hide in his little apartment, in his little town, and write stories about miscegenated vagina monsters until he died.

Nothing about this was remotely right-wing, especially at the time. There were lots of full-fledged racists on all sides of economic theory (example: Wilson, as I stated). I'm about as lefty as you'll find on the site, but I really think continuing to paint HPL as "right-wing" is just baiting the right-leaning members of the site, and incorrect. We have a whole Trash Talk section for that. I stopped going there for my own mental health. The defection of Southern Democrats to the GOP after Johnson completely changed the left/right landscape with regard to race as political policy, and that was long after HPL was dead.


www.dailysignal.com/2017/05/10/ugly-racism-karl-marx/
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 18:04 by mtagge #283316
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Not Sure wrote:
I realize GG pushed some buttons with the term "right-wing". I don't really agree with that analysis at all, I just think HPL was shockingly fucking racist. Even within his time, this was an abnormal level of fear and hatred. However, the Southern Democrats at the time were busy electing Woodrow Wilson, who could give HPL a run for his money in the racism stakes. History isn't pretty. We should all leave the left/right stuff in the "thread we shall not name, because you know where to find it"
Aren't some of the folks here suggesting that his abnormal level of fear and hatred are what fueled the start of the genre. If not I'll add it as a point to consider.

Would there even be a Lovecraftian mythos if he were a well adjusted individual? Isn't the same thing making him racist (fear of the unfamiliar) giving birth to the genre (fear of the unknown/unknowable/unfathomable)? I would even put forward that FFG's (and other's) take on Arkham isn't all that connected to Lovecraft except for certain monsters/eldar signs/etc. It is more a fear of cosmic forces, and things that tap into those cosmic forces (where the unfortunate gypsy type stuff slots in).
Posted: 18 Oct 2018 19:45 by Shellhead #283321
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mtagge wrote:
Not Sure wrote:
I realize GG pushed some buttons with the term "right-wing". I don't really agree with that analysis at all, I just think HPL was shockingly fucking racist. Even within his time, this was an abnormal level of fear and hatred. However, the Southern Democrats at the time were busy electing Woodrow Wilson, who could give HPL a run for his money in the racism stakes. History isn't pretty. We should all leave the left/right stuff in the "thread we shall not name, because you know where to find it"
Aren't some of the folks here suggesting that his abnormal level of fear and hatred are what fueled the start of the genre. If not I'll add it as a point to consider.

Would there even be a Lovecraftian mythos if he were a well adjusted individual? Isn't the same thing making him racist (fear of the unfamiliar) giving birth to the genre (fear of the unknown/unknowable/unfathomable)? I would even put forward that FFG's (and other's) take on Arkham isn't all that connected to Lovecraft except for certain monsters/eldar signs/etc. It is more a fear of cosmic forces, and things that tap into those cosmic forces (where the unfortunate gypsy type stuff slots in).

Great questions. Edgar Allan Poe was even more messed up. And Stephen King watched his childhood friend get fatally hit by a train, though he claims that he has no memory of the incident.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 10:31 by moofrank #283352
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Michael Barnes wrote:
This is true- I’ll wait to hear about it before I completely dismiss it. If there is anyone working in games today who could actually subvert the racist subtexts And do something interesting with it...it’s her.

True. There is no way it will be obvious, but I'm sure there will be something...The way Dragonholt presents and manages its interspecies romance subplot has levels of subtlety and clever writing.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 10:59 by SuperflyTNT #283355
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As evidenced by every population on earth, ever, tribalism is part of the human condition, outside of experiential and societal training. Racism is a natural result of this human tendency toward skepticism of the “other”, or distilled further, “unknown”.

This is the basis of religion and political structures, so again, it’s the human experience. Lovecraft took his own fears and created his own fictional religion, complete with hierarchies and framed within a time period of great social change, and was successful in taking the human condition of white hot fear of the unknown and translating it into stories which portray that fear on its own terms.

Ms. Valens can massage it any way she wishes, but at the end of the day, we’re still little more than apes staring at the sun in wonderment and the stories she bases the game on are still standing on the shoulders of a man ruled by his fears of the “other”, who was standing on the shoulders of all of the mystics, priests, shaman, and witches who propagated myths and stories which all, still, were rooted in a fear of “other” and the unknown.

You can’t sanitize Lovecraft because the mentality of fear of “other” still exists, today, even in developed, “enlightened” nations. Nor should you want to, as to do so would deny human nature.

He was a racist. He’s long dead. He wrote incredible stories. People like them. Most people wouldn’t know he’s racist unless you told them or they caught a scant few passages which indicated it. That’s the end.

The irony here is that this article erupted from a huge, utterly bald faced and unrepentant bigot who has called on people to leave the site for their non-extreme beliefs, who has castigated people as racist for simply voting one way, and who then even more ironically wrote about white males AS A GEOUP in less than kind terms, etc.

So, all in all, this thread is equal parts very interesting and intensely absurd.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 11:36 by GorillaGrody #283358
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We are surrounded by a civilization which has allowed me—I’ll speak for myself, here—to live as a giant fat blowhard who's major arteries have somehow not burst like a hot bike tire, which has put in my toolbox a language and a communicative method beyond that of all other civilizations who have come before me, one which has built an infrastructure designed to educate me and get me back and forth to a job that doesn't last from 6 in the morning until 8 at night, and a repressive state apparatus designed to coddle and protect me (as a white man) whenever I shit myself; if I had severe brain damage, or a terrorist's commitment to nihilistic destruction, only then, could I repeat the phrase:
SuperflyTNT wrote:
but at the end of the day, we’re still little more than apes staring at the sun in wonderment

Yet that is the foundational basis for a spectacularized political ideal which stretches from Lovecraft to Trump. It is, literally (just read it) subhuman in outlook and intent. It is totally intolerable as an explanation of either structural or interpersonal racism, or as an excuse for inaction.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 12:23 by ubarose #283360
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It's probably hopeless to try to do this, as someone is no doubt pounding away frantically at their keyboard to rebut something because someone on the internet is WRONG.

But I am in a good mood today, so why not try to turn this thread into something a bit more positive. It's easy to knock things down, but if you want change, it is so much more powerful to support better things.

So how's about we share suggestions for games and books that have the positive representation we want - either in content or creator.

Someone mentioned Lovecraft Country.

I personally recommend Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and also, of course, The Haunting of Hill House
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 12:39 by Jackwraith #283361
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I remember appreciating Merchants and Marauders for having a pretty diverse cast when it came to captain options, whether merchant or pirate. On the one hand, you could look at it as continuing to represent non-European types as inappropriate for "proper" society if they were all pirate types, but given that you can play either way in the game, I thought it was just a good idea to have people of all types with the ambition to captain their own ship and lead it to fortune no matter how they chose to do it.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 13:03 by GorillaGrody #283365
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ubarose wrote:

I personally recommend Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and also, of course, The Haunting of Hill House

I love Shirley Jackson! I’ll add Kelly Link’s short stories to the list, along with Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, and Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters (which features one of the best vampire stories I’ve ever read).

Thanks for righting the ship, uba.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 14:12 by Hadik #283375
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Ursula K. Le Guin. I would buy a Wizard of Earth Sea game instantly.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 14:30 by SuperflyTNT #283377
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Gorilla, 3/4 of the Earth’s population believes in a magical sky being that made everything.

Fully half of them kneels TOWARD THE SUN five times a day, and 10% of THOSE are happy to kill the other 90% because they don’t worship “properly”.

I’m not making excuses, I’m simply stating observable fact. People are tribal. The fact that you aimed right for Trump in your eloquent rebuttal is indicative. The “alt right Russian bot deplorables snowflake lefties” narrative played out on Facebook et al is more proof. People stabbing one another at football games is more proof. I mean, what the fuck is identity politics if it’s not “I am X, you are Y”?

Denying it is denying your own observations and ACTIONS.

Anyhow, enough of this bull.

I’m with Uba. I’d love to see a game based on The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, ideally an economic engine game with area control. Maybe like Alien Frontiers meets Cyclades or something.

Another cool one would be a mystery game based on Cold In July. Coop, where players have to find the location of the “studio” and being them to justice.

An game like Pandemic, but based on Andromeda Strain would be neat. Or better yet, a direct representation of containment of The Mist, but with two layers, where each player can control Groups - two survivor groups within the mist battling for supremacy in ideology, the townsfolk who are trying to survive, the military trying to contain the mist, and the aliens who are trying to take over. Totally asymmetrical. Kind of Duney.

Another cool one would be a game based on the Wool series where Silo personnel are trying to hide the reality from the inhabitants and the rebels are trying to change the system. Maybe 2P, like Twilight Struggle.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 15:07 by Michael Barnes #283380
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There are SO MANY possible settings for games in the sci fi/horrror/fantasy literature...let alone completely new ones that could be created for games. So yes, it is INCREDIBLY lazy to fall back on Lovecraft. All these resources, all this time spent on yet another “investigators va. Cthulhu” joint that is just about as played out as it gets.

Gene Wolfe, Philip Dick, any number of Neil Gaiman properties, John Carpenter movies, Frankenstein, Chronicles of Prydain, Castle Rock...and we get “Cthulhu: Death May Die”.

I don’t care for the skeevy aspects of Kingdom Death, but at least it’s something original. Ish.

Scythe creates an entire setting based mostly on paintings. No need to drag out HPL and pretend like “mongrels” aren’t racist.

Eternal Darkness, one of the best video games ever, is totally Lovecraftian...even going so far as to kind of create its own Mythos. But staying away from HPL.

Cave Evil is even more nihilistic and bleak than HPL but there is no race issue.

That is part of what I wanted to get across here...that we don’t NEED HPL anymore. We can move on from him. And still enjoy cosmic horror without this stupid impulse to venerate this man and remain bound to his specific characters, settings and ideas.

Anyway, since we are trying to spin this back to a positive discussion, I think it’s great that with some exceptions, most games are more inclusive than ever. It’s awesome to look through a D&D book and see characters of every gender, age, skin color, and description. WoTC is really pushing an all-in sense of inclusion. I’m seeing more and more in games a drive toward representation. And I’m seeing games that have latent racism, such as positive or ignorant depictions if colonialism, being roundly criticized. These are positive changes.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 15:45 by ChristopherMD #283383
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Jackwraith wrote:
I remember appreciating Merchants and Marauders for having a pretty diverse cast when it came to captain options, whether merchant or pirate. On the one hand, you could look at it as continuing to represent non-European types as inappropriate for "proper" society if they were all pirate types, but given that you can play either way in the game, I thought it was just a good idea to have people of all types with the ambition to captain their own ship and lead it to fortune no matter how they chose to do it.

Fun fact: The most successful pirate captain in history was a Chinese woman.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_Shih
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 16:27 by SuperflyTNT #283385
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I think that if someone decided to make PKDick based games it would be the best selling series after TTR
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 19:29 by Sevej #283390
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
Fully half of them kneels TOWARD THE SUN five times a day, and 10% of THOSE are happy to kill the other 90% because they don’t worship “properly”.

Uh, toward the sun? If you're talking about muslims, they pray facing the Ka'bah in Mecca. If it's about heavenly bodies, they're more into moon than the sun.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 19:33 by mtagge #283391
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Michael Barnes wrote:
That is part of what I wanted to get across here...that we don’t NEED HPL anymore. We can move on from him. And still enjoy cosmic horror without this stupid impulse to venerate this man and remain bound to his specific characters, settings and ideas.

This is the part where you completely lose me.

Racism is bad. . .Check
Lovecraft was racist. . .Check
Cthulhu mythos began with Lovecraft. . .Check
Games like AH's and CW's theme are Cthulhu mythos. . .Check
Playing Cthulhu mythos games venerates Lovecraft and therefore racism. . . . . .uhh, not seeing it

Honestly most people who play AH (sorry I keep picking that one, it's the one in my collection) don't have a single clue who Lovecraft is. No sane person who plays a WWII game says that it venerates anything related to that war (or war in general). Playing Twilight Struggle as the Soviets doesn't mean I venerate them or their policies.

I mean I can pick up Marx and read it to better understand the flaws in capitalism without buying into the philosophy whole hog. If I pick up Atlas Shrugged (while rejecting the premise) I am not venerating Rand. I can read Mark Twain without venerating racism.

But good on you for pronouncing racism is bad. Bad on you for suggesting that people who don't agree will points 1-5 in their entirety are racist (but that you are okay with people who agree with 1-4).

When I play AH I totally don't "venerate this man and remain bound to his specific characters, settings and ideas". Might I suggest your personality falls deeper into fandom and geekdom than the average person. As you seem to be making no true scotsman statements.

(Apologies if the tone is a little harsh, no offense meant at all to anyone and I don't take offense at the suggestion that I promote racism by having Arkham Horror in my collection as I view this as a thought exercise)
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 19:57 by Michael Barnes #283393
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Slow down there boss. At no point am I suggesting anywhere in this, top to bottom, that anyone that like Lovecraft, plays Lovecraft games, or whatever is racist or supports racist ideology. The games are mostly innocuous regardless of their foundation. The ideologies are buried and it’s true- largely forgotten or plain unknown. You are jumping to a conclusion that I’m not making.

As stated, this is largely a personal decision that everybody has to make at some point with this kind of situation. Some, like Pete, feel it’s a minimal thing that is outweighed by the merit of the stories. Some think it’s completely irrelevant. Others have different levels of comfort with it. This is an area where I don’t think there is a right or wrong, but in my opinion and from my perspective it’s time to get over the HPL fixation due in large part to the racism and the fact that we are at a point in this hobby’s history where we NEED to distance it from this influence. And also because it’s just played out. We can do better, and we should demand better.

But you are absolutely correct, the average AH player may not have even read HPL. Or have any clue about the negative elements.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 20:48 by ChristopherMD #283396
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If there was a book called Guide to Overused Game Settings the Cthulhu mythos would be chapter two and chapter one would be WWII. Regardless of Lovecrafts racism I'd be cool if we never saw another game using either setting. We have plenty and there are other wars and miscellaneous horrors out there.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 21:06 by jason10mm #283397
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Well, if nothing else this thread should be convincing folks to petition Congress to stop extending copyright and open up the public domain to new stuff. Stuff made in the 40s and 50s ought to be free for use. Duck disney!
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 21:28 by Frohike #283399
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I just think HPL represents an... interesting confluence of racism and the horror of the abject Other. It's probably a point that's been made elsewhere.
Posted: 19 Oct 2018 22:07 by mtagge #283400
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Michael Barnes wrote:
Slow down there boss. At no point am I suggesting anywhere in this, top to bottom, that anyone that like Lovecraft, plays Lovecraft games, or whatever is racist or supports racist ideology. The games are mostly innocuous regardless of their foundation. The ideologies are buried and it’s true- largely forgotten or plain unknown. You are jumping to a conclusion that I’m not making.

As stated, this is largely a personal decision that everybody has to make at some point with this kind of situation. Some, like Pete, feel it’s a minimal thing that is outweighed by the merit of the stories. Some think it’s completely irrelevant. Others have different levels of comfort with it. This is an area where I don’t think there is a right or wrong, but in my opinion and from my perspective it’s time to get over the HPL fixation due in large part to the racism and the fact that we are at a point in this hobby’s history where we NEED to distance it from this influence. And also because it’s just played out. We can do better, and we should demand better.

But you are absolutely correct, the average AH player may not have even read HPL. Or have any clue about the negative elements.
Apologies. I guess I just don't understand your larger point. I don't really see and am not aware of any HPL fixation. I have at times seen a fixation on the mythos.

Perhaps your point is related to a perceived problem with toxic fandom? I guess I don't really understand, or rather I'm not really aware of any connection with playing CW and a HPL fixation.
Posted: 20 Oct 2018 06:29 by GorillaGrody #283630
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mtagge wrote:
Michael Barnes wrote:
Slow down there boss. At no point am I suggesting anywhere in this, top to bottom, that anyone that like Lovecraft, plays Lovecraft games, or whatever is racist or supports racist ideology. The games are mostly innocuous regardless of their foundation. The ideologies are buried and it’s true- largely forgotten or plain unknown. You are jumping to a conclusion that I’m not making.

As stated, this is largely a personal decision that everybody has to make at some point with this kind of situation. Some, like Pete, feel it’s a minimal thing that is outweighed by the merit of the stories. Some think it’s completely irrelevant. Others have different levels of comfort with it. This is an area where I don’t think there is a right or wrong, but in my opinion and from my perspective it’s time to get over the HPL fixation due in large part to the racism and the fact that we are at a point in this hobby’s history where we NEED to distance it from this influence. And also because it’s just played out. We can do better, and we should demand better.

But you are absolutely correct, the average AH player may not have even read HPL. Or have any clue about the negative elements.
Apologies. I guess I just don't understand your larger point. I don't really see and am not aware of any HPL fixation. I have at times seen a fixation on the mythos.

Perhaps your point is related to a perceived problem with toxic fandom? I guess I don't really understand, or rather I'm not really aware of any connection with playing CW and a HPL fixation.

The honest point is that this is a site full of white guys who can afford to buy and spend a lot of time on board games. There's a lot of shit we're simply not going to either "get" or be able to explain to one another.

Here's a simple article on why the World Fantasy Award changed its statuette from Lovecraft to anything else: www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/09/wo...craft-as-prize-image

Though giving a content-free statue to someone might seem innocuous, just like a game with monsters in it seems innocuous, presenting Lovecraft's pallid likeness to writers of color such as N.K. Jemisin or Sofia Samatar as a reward for their stellar contributions to the genre would be an obscenity.

To believe that this is simply a static matter of eternally recurring tribalism--look, the above thing changed! for the better!-- is like a bacterial culture, and the only antiseptic for it would be to read literally anything on the subject other than an obscure thread of white people who play board games talking about whether or not Lovecraft is cool.

There's only so much we can do within this very, very unrepresentative forum to get ourselves up to speed on this issue.
Posted: 20 Oct 2018 06:33 by mads b. #283631
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I don't know if we *need* Lovecraft or WWII or anything else in our games. But games differ from movies, books and other works of story or even art by not having time to build worlds. Yes, it's well and good that there is a lot of fluff in Twilight Imperium, but reading it is not part of playing the game. So by using a setting that is known and has some established story beats to it, you can jump right into the storytelling which could potentially include subverting the standard tropes. So while using an established setting (like the mythos) can seem lazy, it can also be a great way to help the players focus on what you want them to focus on.

Now, for me this is most interesting when a "standard" setting is used primarily for storytelling. If the setting is just pasted on and makes no difference for the game, I see less reason to take this short cut.
Posted: 20 Oct 2018 07:06 by stoic #283634
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All of this witch hunting for the possible fragmentary racial sentiments of dead artists is ridiculous grand standing. These isolated comments do not define a person's identity or core beliefs. The author who started this F#@K H.P. Lovecraft post uses Mark E. Smith as his avatar. Well, isn't that racist too using the same racist ruler and arguments to cast aside an artist's art because there "might be" evidence that the artist was a racist asshole?

barnes.jpg



Mark E. Smith wrote the following song:
The Classical
Song by The Fall
Lyrics
There is no culture is my brag,
Your taste for bullshit reveals a lust for a home of office
This is the home of the vain!
This is the home of the vain!
Where are the obligatory n*****?
Hey there fuckface!
Hey there fuckface!
There are twelve people in the world
The rest are paste
This is the home of the vain!
This is the home of the vain!
I just left the hotel amnesia, I had to go there
Where it is I can't remember,
But now I can remember, now I can remember
Hafta! hafta!
Message for yer! message for yer!
Too much reliance on girl here
On girls here, behind every shell-actor
Snobbier snobbier
Too much romantic here
I destroy romantics, actors,
Kill it!
Kill it!
Kill it a!
Kill it!
Kill it a!
You won't find anything more ridiculous, than this new profile
Razor unit, made with the highest british attention to the
Wrong detail, become obsolete units surrounded by hail.
The classical!
The classical!
The classical!
Hotel aggro!
Message for yer! message for yer!
The classical!
Poleaxe a!
One of the millennium of conspiracy,
Forever,
I know it means a lot of stomach gas,
I know it means a lot of stomach gas,
I've never felt better in my life
I've never felt better in my life
Poleaxe a!
The classical!
Stomach gas
I've never felt better in my life
I've never felt better in my life
Poleaxe a!
Millennium of conspiracy
Play out classical
I've never felt better in my life
Better in my life
Songwriters: Mark E Smith
The Classical lyrics © Minder Music Ltd.

I guess we should say: F#@K Mark E. Smith too! Of course, Mark E. Smith would gladly tell me to go F#@K off too! I call for a ban of this Mark E. Smith avatar!
Posted: 20 Oct 2018 07:17 by Gary Sax #283636
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Moderated the use of the n word, yes, even in lyrics. My call. Your point remains the same.
Posted: 20 Oct 2018 07:27 by stoic #283637
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Gary Sax wrote:
Moderated the use of the n word, yes, even in lyrics. My call. Your point remains the same.

I have no problem with moderating or redacting that ugly racist and demeaning word. However, if you're going to moderate the above quote, then you also need to moderate the very first quote of this thread too. Please check page 1.


stick.jpg
Posted: 20 Oct 2018 08:25 by Jackwraith #283639
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And I think we're done here. Everyone has said their bit and we're just starting to get into tit-for-tat exchanges. There are many other things to talk about, like, y'know, actual games.