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HBO orders horror anthology Lovecraft Country to series - Jordan Peele & Misha Green

Dusk Golem

A 21st Century Rockefeller
I think it's good to make a series that tackles racism about Lovecraft. While this might be a bit odd to say, Lovecraft is... fascinatingly racist? That sounds terrible on paper, but what I mean is he's an interesting case study on the topic. He was notoriously more racist than even many people at the time, but his reasoning for his racism is interesting. He didn't specifically think that white people were better, more he placed a lot on ethnicity and believed people of English descent were the superior race, but yet demonstrated through his life and through his works just a distaste for people in general and a fear of others. Lovecraft was constantly ill as a child and spent many years just with his mother, both during school years and after it. He didn't graduate high school, he wasn't able to become a professional astronomer like he wanted due to his failing in mathematics. He loved reading since young and became an author instead. He went from a well-off family to a poor family after his grandfather died and left the family in a poor financial situation. And then Lovecraft's mother, who suffered from hysteria and depression, was locked away and then died.

Quite honestly Lovecraft was a disturbed individual, and he had a lot of tragedy surrounding his life. His writings go in-depth into his views, and for better or worse without his experiences and views I doubt his writing would've been as focused on certain things as it was. That life is meaningless, reality is a cold and hard place, his paranoia, and his love of astronomy, chemistry, and general strange horrors are all present in his work. And indeed, his racism.

Lovecraft would probably hate how big his works have become and who has adapted them in ways he would loathe, but it truly is a case Lovecraft has become bigger than himself. Because of his twisted world views he was able to create a mythos that was unlike anything else, a truly engaging, deep, and dark cosmic mythos which has remained relevant and maybe even growing in popularity here almost 100 years later (actually, 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of when Lovecaft really starting getting his works published in 1917). There is merit to adoring and embracing the universe he created, but criticizing and not accepting the sometimes deplorable and antisemitic views he held. He had a Jewish wife who was disturbed by his views and tried to remind him she was Jewish, but that never broke Lovecraft's views, he clung to them foolishly.

But I appreciate what's been done with his works. I know many people who have read his works who are all at once engrossed in the world he creates but appalled by some of his viewpoints he includes in his works. It's a strange place to stand with his works. But the simply truth is Lovecraft obviously died a long time ago, he might of had some terrible deplorable views that deserve to be criticized and acknowledged, but he also in the end wasn't really a bad person, though full of hate he never really ever ended up acting on that hate. That's not to excuse him, but more makes this next bit easier to swallow; Lovecraft has grown to be defined by what he created, and not as much about his character. There is still a lot of interest in Lovecraft as a person, as it is undeniable that a lot of his mythos pulls from himself, but his works have been adapted and inspired so much at this point; everyone from Clive Barker to Stephen King from works ranging from Alien to Ghostbusters to Stranger Things to Bloodborne, and a LOT more, that his works have grown beyond him. So the mythos has lived on, and it should. It inspires and strikes the heart of many, both the themes, entities, and simply the world he crafted.

But that's not to forget his racism, in fact remembering it I think is important. And I think one of the most wonderful things to be done with his mythos is to explore it in new ways and detach it from his antisemitic views. There is true worth and a unique artful quality to his works which are worth divulging in, adapting, and remembering. And really Lovecraft's place in history is secured, he will likely become immortal through his works and how much he has managed to inspire and influence. But I think it's wonderful to explore the very things he held so much hate for expressed in his own works, and not forget about them but move to end the hate he might of held within himself through his works, as his works are of greater value than his hate.

Sorry for the long post there, but I basically support the act of using Lovecraft's mythos to work towards better understanding, representation, and expression of race, even if Lovecraft would of hated this and would be looping in his grave over the fact. Lovecraft's legacy is here to stay, and I think instead of ignoring or brushing off the hate and pretending it's not there to instead contest, contrast, and explore it. It's powerful its in own way that artist and creators who love his work but may deplore his views, such as Jordan Peele and Misha Green for this TV adaption as example, and tackle it. Jordan for one certainly expressed some love for Lovecraft already in Get Out, and I'm interested in seeing him delve deeper into it, along with the fantastic group of people formed who've decided to tackle this. A few here certainly have expressed their adoration for Lovecraft here and there, but I imagine are not nearly as fond of the views he held. But it's possible to both love something that someone did and be completely against some of what that person stood for, and using the works to oppose the hate and express & explore a different perspective to promote understanding I think has a lot of integrity.
 
God I hope they address Lovecraft's racism. I really, really do.

Even as a one off Key and Peele esque joke, where one of the characters is reading one of his stories(The Horror at Red Hook or The Rats in The Walls) that have clearly defined racial epithets, then laments at what a truly incredible writer he is while also being an unashamed Racist.

Although IIRC towards the end of his life he reconciled some of his views but that doesn't really make what Lovecraft the man was, versus what he created. I think certain stories should absolutely be forgotten, lambasted for what they are, but most of his work literally 90% or more is pure art.

It is the only reason that I guiltily love him so and because we are so similar. I am basically him without the extremely racist talk, mostly because I have seen so much racism in my time against people of color, that I cannot possibly condone such dangerous thinking.

What I will defend of lovecraft is not the man, no but his writing even if the writing itself was somewhat of an autobiographical nature, and some of it, also showed too much of his more disgusting personal beliefs versus the ones based in science or at least some modicum of scientific or philosophical thought.

Lovecraft the man, was a sickly man struck with mental illness, he was also unabashedly racist and a product of his times. I will not defend the man at all in this aspect, but I will defend his lifes work as it has greatly influenced me as a writer and others.

The thing about the Lovecraft vehicle in general, is that in the right hands it can be used to shine a light not only on the indecencies of today but also yesteryear. Lovecraft's mythos is an incredible idea.
 

KonradLaw

Member
Couldn't get through the book. Too much depressing racism, not enough exciting horror. But I will give the show a chance. I just hope they will up the mythos elements.
 

GSR

Member
Read the book last year, thought it was super solid. Good showrunners too - the novel occasionally flirted with being a little too self-aware about how it was a book about race in the way that stuff written outside of an author's lived experience can be. (Or to be more direct: you could sometimes tell this was a book about being black written by a white dude.) I'm guessing Peele and Green will be able to tighten that up a bit.
 

Big Nikus

Member
I think it's good to make a series that tackles racism about Lovecraft. While this might be a bit odd to say, Lovecraft is... fascinatingly racist? That sounds terrible on paper, but what I mean is he's an interesting case study on the topic. He was notoriously more racist than even many people at the time, but his reasoning for his racism is interesting. He didn't specifically think that white people were better, more he placed a lot on ethnicity and believed people of English descent were the superior race, but yet demonstrated through his life and through his works just a distaste for people in general and a fear of others. Lovecraft was constantly ill as a child and spent many years just with his mother, both during school years and after it. He didn't graduate high school, he wasn't able to become a professional astronomer like he wanted due to his failing in mathematics. He loved reading since young and became an author instead. He went from a well-off family to a poor family after his grandfather died and left the family in a poor financial situation. And then Lovecraft's mother, who suffered from hysteria and depression, was locked away and then died.

Quite honestly Lovecraft was a disturbed individual, and he had a lot of tragedy surrounding his life. His writings go in-depth into his views, and for better or worse without his experiences and views I doubt his writing would've been as focused on certain things as it was. That life is meaningless, reality is a cold and hard place, his paranoia, and his love of astronomy, chemistry, and general strange horrors are all present in his work. And indeed, his racism.

Lovecraft would probably hate how big his works have become and who has adapted them in ways he would loathe, but it truly is a case Lovecraft has become bigger than himself. Because of his twisted world views he was able to create a mythos that was unlike anything else, a truly engaging, deep, and dark cosmic mythos which has remained relevant and maybe even growing in popularity here almost 100 years later (actually, 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of when Lovecaft really starting getting his works published in 1917). There is merit to adoring and embracing the universe he created, but criticizing and not accepting the sometimes deplorable and antisemitic views he held. He had a Jewish wife who was disturbed by his views and tried to remind him she was Jewish, but that never broke Lovecraft's views, he clung to them foolishly.

But I appreciate what's been done with his works. I know many people who have read his works who are all at once engrossed in the world he creates but appalled by some of his viewpoints he includes in his works. It's a strange place to stand with his works. But the simply truth is Lovecraft obviously died a long time ago, he might of had some terrible deplorable views that deserve to be criticized and acknowledged, but he also in the end wasn't really a bad person, though full of hate he never really ever ended up acting on that hate. That's not to excuse him, but more makes this next bit easier to swallow; Lovecraft has grown to be defined by what he created, and not as much about the creator. There is still a lot of interest in Lovecraft as a person, as it is undeniable that a lot of his mythos pulls from himself, but his works have been adapted and inspired so much at this point; everyone from Clive Barker to Stephen King from works ranging from Alien to Ghostbusters to Stranger Things to Bloodborne, and a LOT more. So the mythos has lived on, and it should. It inspires and strikes the heart of many, both the themes, entities, and simply the world he crafted.

But that's not to forget his racism, in fact remembering it I think is important. And I think one of the most wonderful things to be done with his mythos is to explore it new ways and detach it from his antisemitic views. There is true worth and artful quality to his works which are worth divulging in, adapting, and remembering. And really Lovecraft's place in history is secured, he will likely become immortal through his works and how much he has managed to inspire and influence. But I think it's wonderful to explore the very things he held so much hate for in his own works, and not forget but move to end the hate he might of held within himself in part through his works, which are of greater value than his hate.

Sorry for the long post there, but I basically support the act of using Lovecraft's mythos to work towards better understanding, representation, and expression of race, even if Lovecraft had known this existed based off his works he would be looping in his grave. Lovecraft's legacy is here to stay, and I think instead of ignoring or brushing the hate off it's powerful its in own ways that artist and creators who love his work but may deplore his views, such as Jordan Peele and Misha Green for this TV adaption, tackle it. It's possible to both love something that someone did and be completely against some of what the person stood for, and using the works to oppose the hate and understand a different perspective I think has a lot of integrity.

Really great post. And I think you nailed it, that's the way to appreciate Lovecraft.
 

Machina

Banned
 
I loved Lovecraft when i was a teen but haven't been able to read him as an adult. Rebooting his work from a black perspective is brilliant and I can't wait.
 

Truant

Member
Guillermo del Toro said Lovecraft's racism was more of a product of his time and his weird mother, rather than an active stance he took. Like, "of course black people are crazy, anyway here's an ancient cosmic god".
 

Cerium

Member
Guillermo del Toro said Lovecraft's racism was more of a product of his time rather than an active stance he took. Like, "of course black people are crazy, anyway here's an ancient cosmic god".
It's not easily divorced from his writing, it infuses his work and is prominent in many of his stories. It's pretty clear to me that Lovecraft was terrified of everything and minorities in particular. However that doesn't prevent me from enjoying his writing knowing that it is the product of a uniquely disturbed mind.

Lovecraft is fear of the unknown distilled to its essence, and in that sense I see his racism as a product of an almost childlike ignorance.
 

GAMEPROFF

Banned
Wasnt there a moment where Lovecraft realized, what horrible worldviews he had and changed? I can be wrong, but I remember something in that regards.
 

Truant

Member
Wasnt there a moment where Lovecraft realized, what horrible worldviews he had and changed? I can be wrong, but I remember something in that regards.

I think it was more that he didn't have a problem with other ethnicities as long as they were western, or "westernized". He did marry a jewish woman, because she was of English upbringing.
 

BigDes

Member
Why does Lovecraft mixed with racism sound like such an amazing theme to me? rofl I am pumped for this.
I mean, lovecraft mixed with racism is just lovecraft isn't it?

I get what you mean though.

This book was pretty good, the main character driving through the US to get to his family at the start of the book was legit one of tensest part of the whole thing.
 

duckroll

Member
It seems like there are things in his late correspondence that hint that at least his general worldview changed:
http://bedfordandbowery.com/2014/09...m-keep-you-away-from-a-festival-in-his-honor/

Point 3

Doesnt explicit mention his points on racism, but this must be where my memory must come from.

This is a letter he wrote to Clark Ashton Smith in 1934, about 2.5 years before his death:

Of the complete biological inferiority of the negro there can be no question—he has anatomical features consistently varying from those of other stocks, & always in the direction of the lower primates . . . Equally inferior—& perhaps even more so—is the Australian black stock, which differs widely from the real negro . . . In dealing with these two black races, there is only one sound attitude for any other race (be it white, Indian, Malay, Polynesian, or Mongolian) to take—& that is to prevent admixture as completely & determinedly as it can be prevented, through the establishment of a colour-line & the rigid forcing of all mixed offspring below that line. I am in accord with the most vehement & vociferous Alabaman or Mississippian on that point … Other racial questions are wholly different in nature—involving wide variations unconnected with superiority or inferiority. Only an ignorant dolt would attempt to call a Chinese gentleman—heir to one of the greatest artistic & philosophic traditions in the world—an "inferior" of any sort . . . & yet there are potent reasons, based on wide physical, mental, & cultural differences, why great numbers of the Chinese ought not to mix into the Caucasian fabric, or vice versa. It is not that one race is any better than any other, but that their whole respective heritages are so antipodal as to make harmonious adjustment impossible. Members of one race can fit into another only through the complete eradication of their own background-influences—& even then the adjustment will always remain uneasy & imperfect if the newcomer's physical aspect froms a constant reminder of his outside origin. Therefore it is wise to discourage all mixtures of sharply differentiated races—though the color-line does not need to be drawn as strictly as in the case of the negro, since we know that a dash or two of Mongolian or Indian or Hindoo or some such blood will not actually injure a white stock biologically. . . . As a matter of fact, most of the psychological race-differences which strike us so prominently are cultural rather than biological. If one could take a Japanese infant, alter his features to the Anglo-Saxon type through plastic surgery, & place him with an American family in Boston for rearing—without telling him that he is not an American—the chances are that in 20 years the result would be a typical American youth with very few instincts to distinguish him from his pure Nordic college-mates. The same is true of other superior alien races including the Jew—although the Nazis persist in acting on a false biological conception. If they were wise in their campaign to get rid of Jewish cultural influences (& a great deal can be said for such a campaign, when the dominance of the Aryan tradition is threatened as in Germany & New York City), they would not emphasize the separatism of the Jew but would strive to make him give up his separate culture & lose himself in the German people. It wouldn't hurt Germany—or alter its essential physical type—to take in all the Jews it now has. (However, that wouldn't work in Poland or New York City, where the Jews are of an inferior strain, & so numerous that they would essentially modify the physical type.)
 

duckroll

Member

Yeah. Lovecraft's letters are pretty fascinating. People who simply believe that he's a product of his time really need to dig deeper. Part of it is probably true, but he was also a weird and paranoid intellectual who had some really fucked up ideas. No doubt his distorted worldview contributed to the quality of fictional work though.

The guy's been dead for like 80 years now, so it's silly to get mad over him being a racist dick, but I feel pretty comfortable calling him a racist dick, regardless of whether he might have grown bored of talking about racism in his... final year of life. Shrug. :)
 

GAMEPROFF

Banned
Yeah. Lovecraft's letters are pretty fascinating. People who simply believe that he's a product of his time really need to dig deeper. Part of it is probably true, but he was also a weird and paranoid intellectual who had some really fucked up ideas. No doubt his distorted worldview contributed to the quality of fictional work though.

The guy's been dead for like 80 years now, so it's silly to get mad over him being a racist dick, but I feel pretty comfortable calling him a racist dick, regardless of whether he might have grown bored of talking about racism in his... final year of life. Shrug. :)

My problem is that I really admire his work. Of course I am completly aware of the really awful parts like his descriptions of black people and everything that comes along and feel everytime I come across a scene like this I feel really uncomfortable for liking the overall work. But I like stuff like Call of Cthulhu because it really scares me and works in making you afraid of the unknown places of space and earth.

I can rub of Stories like Shadow over Innsmouth, where its part of the plot that humans breed with fish people and which is not open racist against a minority like black people, but at the same moment, when I remember that H.P. was a big racist, the bad feeling always comes across, when he starts again describing the Innsmout Look. Because it gives you an idea why he describes it the way he does.

I hope you get what I mean.
 

Dusk Golem

A 21st Century Rockefeller
My problem is that I really admire his work. Of course I am completly aware of the really awful parts like his descriptions of black people and everything that comes along and feel everytime I come across a scene like this I feel really uncomfortable for liking the overall work. But I like stuff like Call of Cthulhu because it really scares me and works in making you afraid of the unknown places of space and earth.

I can rub of Stories like Shadow over Innsmouth, where its part of the plot that humans breed with fish people and which is not open racist against a minority like black people, but at the same moment, when I remember that H.P. was a big racist, the bad feeling always comes across, when he starts again describing the Innsmout Look. Because it gives you an idea why he describes it the way he does.

I hope you get what I mean.

Don't worry, I think a lot of people get what you mean. Like for example, I doubt some of the people here, like Jordan Peele and Misha Green, hopped on this projects with a complete disdain of Lovecraft (and Jordan showed a few Lovecraftian elements in his recent film, Get Out, so he obviously has some admiration to the author), And as terrible as it is to say, it's very obvious if you look at Lovecraft's life that he was heavily influenced by his own interests, world views, and disturbed personhood, his love of astronomy and chemistry shine through, as does his intense paranoia, and his racism. But his work are more than his racism, and have grown beyond him. It is entirely possible for Lovecraft's mythos to be adapted while completely removing the racist views he held. Hell, there have been some admirable efforts, like Victor LaValle, an African American man who grew up loving Lovecraft's works but loathing his racial viewpoints adapting one of Lovecraft's most racist works, "The Horror at Red Hook", and telling it from the perspective of one of the black characters (you can check out this book as The Ballad Of Black Tom).

And I think what Lovecraft Country does so interestingly, and why I can see some people involved were drawn to adapting it into a series, is it's directly using Lovecraft as a front to talk about racism. We follow the perspective of black characters in a Jim Crow America with Lovecraftian horror beneath the surface, working as an allegory while also showing love to Lovecraft mythos while simultaneously challenging his racist viewpoints.

Lovecraft does deserve to be remembered and the mythos he created, there's a reason it's held relevance for so long and is still readable and effecting today, but it's perfectly fine and I would say even encouraged to critique his racist views, not forget it but grow his mythos in such a way that is is more valuable, expressive, and helpful to combating hate rather than the hate Lovecraft himself held.

His stories simply are very good at capturing imaginations and broadening mindscapes to think of new possibilities, he was a very unique author maybe in big part because of his views but his works have grown beyond him.
 
Yeah. Lovecraft's letters are pretty fascinating.

My problem is that I really admire his work.
Learning that Lovecraft was a strong proponent of race theory and was a virulent racist really put his corpus of work in perspective for me and gave me an entirely new, richer understanding of the material. Fear of the unknown, ancient evil, being surrounded by an alien enemy hostile to everything you hold dear - all contextualized by Lovecraft's unique mix of racism postmodernism.
 

Sotha Sil

Member
My problem is that I really admire his work. Of course I am completly aware of the really awful parts like his descriptions of black people and everything that comes along and feel everytime I come across a scene like this I feel really uncomfortable for liking the overall work. But I like stuff like Call of Cthulhu because it really scares me and works in making you afraid of the unknown places of space and earth.

I can rub of Stories like Shadow over Innsmouth, where its part of the plot that humans breed with fish people and which is not open racist against a minority like black people, but at the same moment, when I remember that H.P. was a big racist, the bad feeling always comes across, when he starts again describing the Innsmout Look. Because it gives you an idea why he describes it the way he does.

I hope you get what I mean.

The way I see it, every single Lovecraft story is a symptom of his paranoid fear of the unknown. That's pretty much why his prose remains fascinating to this day. You can't really separate this personality trait from his writing and I don't think you should. If you take it as a kind of case study in itself, reading his stuff may become easier.

Edit: Pretty much what Spoiled Milk said.
 

duckroll

Member
Learning that Lovecraft was a strong proponent of race theory and was a virulent racist really put his corpus of work in perspective for me and gave me an entirely new, richer understanding of the material. Fear of the unknown, ancient evil, being surrounded by an alien enemy hostile to everything you hold dear - all contextualized by Lovecraft's unique mix of racism postmodernism.

Yup. The takeaway is not "fuck Lovecraft and all his works" (that's fine too if that's your cup of tea) but rather "Lovecraft's cosmic horror was informed by elements of real human horror manifested through his own paranoia and insecurities". Understanding an author requires looking at both the good and the bad that comes with that.
 

CloudWolf

Member
Lovecraft had a cat named Nigger Man, dude was racist as fuck. Doesn't make his stories worse (in fact, as others have pointed out, it makes the explored themes even more fascinating), but yeah, it's not just a case of being a 'product of his time'.
 

GAMEPROFF

Banned
Learning that Lovecraft was a strong proponent of race theory and was a virulent racist really put his corpus of work in perspective for me and gave me an entirely new, richer understanding of the material. Fear of the unknown, ancient evil, being surrounded by an alien enemy hostile to everything you hold dear - all contextualized by Lovecraft's unique mix of racism postmodernism.

It really does. It has been a couple of years since I read all of his stuff, but I regulary revist his most important works and at some point, after I learned more about the writer, it gave me a lot of more insight and I really understood it.
 
I picked up the book this morning, so I'll read that over the next week or so.

It'll be a while before we see the show. I'd guess the earliest might be late in 2018?
 

duckroll

Member
I picked up the book this morning, so I'll read that over the next week or so.

It'll be a while before we see the show. I'd guess the earliest might be late in 2018?

I picked up the book from the library today too! It's the hardcover one and the cover is pretty rad!
 
I picked up the book this morning, so I'll read that over the next week or so.

It'll be a while before we see the show. I'd guess the earliest might be late in 2018?
GoT would be ending in 2018? And Westworld was said to be returning in 2018 as well, right?

Westworld S2 and Lovecraft Country could be a good play by HBO if GoT is ending that year
 
GoT would be ending in 2018? And Westworld was said to be returning in 2018 as well, right?

Westworld S2 and Lovecraft Country could be a good play by HBO if GoT is ending that year
We know that final season of Game of Thrones will be Summer 2018 (or Fall at the latest). Beyond that, it's a little murky. HBO brass estimated that Westworld S2 will air sometime in 2018, but who knows when that will be ready. Beyond that, as far as dramas go they'll have The Deuce (if that's renewed for a second season, S1 premieres Fall 2017) and maybe Succession since that already has a cast.

Right now Lovecraft Country has to get a writing room together and write the scripts, and then they'll start up production. It'll also depend somewhat on what happens with Underground, since Misha Green is the creator of that show and S2 is currently airing. That might get canceled which would clear up her schedule. 2018 is a rough estimate on my part given all the work that has to go into getting this off the ground.
 
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