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Author Topic: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.  (Read 983 times)

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Offline MnemaxaTopic starter

A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« on: November 13, 2015, 08:01:44 AM »
So...the Fantasy Awards is removing the HP Lovecraft bust because he was racist. 

It's pretty big news.  People are proud of themselves for having done this thing.  And it's pretty awful that he was a racist.  But have they REALLY thought this out?

No.

Because what they're ignoring is the fact that H.P. Lovecraft turned away from racism.  He turned away from racism because of his Jewish wife.  He APOLOGIZED for his attitudes in his letters later.  Even after he and his wife divorced, he still came away a better man, due to the efforts of a woman. 

So now, they want to demonize a person who represents what most writers strive for - the long lasting, genre-changing, worldwide acknowledgement of his writing (because regardless of whether you hate his writing or not, most writers HAVE heard of him) - and replace it someone else.  Mind you, that someone else, while being a black woman, has written excellent works.  Octavia Butler is a good writer, but she hasn't changed any genres, written things that made this generations go "WHAT THE F***!, and certainly hasn't entered the annals of history for doing so yet.  She has the potential...but she hasn't arrived yet. 

And the worst part, the part that makes me shake my head at this? 

They undermined the work of a young Jewish woman who changed this man from a racist into a more tolerant person, in the name of equality and anti-racism.

The irony is so thick it chokes one.

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Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2015, 06:56:38 PM »
They undermined the work of a young Jewish woman who changed this man from a racist into a more tolerant person, in the name of equality and anti-racism.

The irony is so thick it chokes one.

I kidna agree with this. There are a few people out there who are way worse than Lovecraft. *cough* Ayn rand and her feelings to the Native Americans*

Warning, guaranteed to piss you off

I cannot hold my middle fingers hard enough at that bigoted bitch.  >:(

Not to mention lovecraft's stuff is timeless and nine times out of ten succeeds in making you realize how tiny we are in the universe.
 
Below is my favorite lovecraft quote.

« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 06:59:32 PM by Lustful Bride »

Offline Tairis

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2015, 07:22:17 PM »
Nothing new. We would rather pretend our idols are saints and when they aren't sparkling we'd rather replace them with whatever is politically and socially acceptable at the moment.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2015, 11:43:35 PM »
Here's the thing, though: If you're going to say that he's a great writer and thus a good model for the award, at some point you're going to have to face the fact that in his writing, non-white skin is a pretty reliable code for "villain", and being lily-white and "of good stock" is just as reliably "protagonist".

You're going to have to deal with him describing characters as "mixed-blooded and mentally aberrant" as a way to villainize them.

You're going to have to deal with the fact that he described a (dead) black character as " a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms that I could not help calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon."

You're going to have to deal with the fact that the final Shocking Twist in "Medusa's Coil" is that the villain has African ancestry.

You're going to have to deal with the fact that one of his protagonists had a cat named N***er-Man.

You're going to have to face the fact that this is the man who wrote and released "New England Fallen" and "On The Creation Of N***ers".

You're going to have to deal with the fact that you're comfortable calling that timeless.

And, most importantly, you're going to have to deal with the fact that making the man who wrote all of that the face of one of the most prestigious awards in genre - signalling that the organization sees his writing as laudable and worthy of commemoration - hurts authors of colour,

As for the "work of a young Jewish woman?" Several of the works I reference above were written during and after their relationship. They were divorced in 1929. He wrote approvingly of the Nazis, chiding them only for being too focused on biological arguments instead of on the obliteration of "lesser" culture - the "kinder, gentler" Lovecraft was of the opinion that Jews were acceptable, maybe, if they weren't too dark skinned or attached to any shred of their culture whatsoever. I suppose that's an improvement over comparing black people to animals, but not much.

So yeah. he was racist. Exceptionally racist, even by the standards of his time. And he never, from what I can find, really stopped. And it's all through his work. And busts of him are being given to the people he targeted as a way of rewarding them for doing good work.

This isn't just a bunch of uppity minorities tearing down the white guy because he's not a perfectly sparkly saint.

Offline Scribbles

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 04:40:27 AM »
Speaking as someone who generally hates it when the world makes decisions based on political correctness rather than reason, I have to ask, is this really an issue?

HP Lovecraft has had his time to shine and likely established himself for centuries to come, even before his decades of representing the Fantasy Awards. I see nothing wrong with beginning a new chapter and perhaps honouring a more current author or maybe even carving out a symbol which the organisation feels more comfortable with to represent them in the future.

Offline MnemaxaTopic starter

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2015, 01:54:13 PM »
The problem is that isn't true that he didn't stop. 

His Jewish wife helped him see the error of his ways.  Much of his later writings reflect that, in that heritage and skin color are no longer mentioned.  He apologized for his thoughts and feelings on the matter in letters to Clark Ashton Smith and Edgar Allan Poe.  He thanked his wife in those letters for showing him the error of his ways. 

But that doesn't matter because he was previously a white racists and deserves to be painted with the same tarbrush that everyone else is nowadays?    It's the hypocrisy of ignoring the efforts a Jewish woman had in reforming an avowed racist that offends me, not the fact that he was racist and they're condemning him for it. 

Offline Ephiral

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Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 02:23:05 PM »
The problem is that isn't true that he didn't stop. 

His Jewish wife helped him see the error of his ways.  Much of his later writings reflect that, in that heritage and skin color are no longer mentioned.  He apologized for his thoughts and feelings on the matter in letters to Clark Ashton Smith and Edgar Allan Poe.  He thanked his wife in those letters for showing him the error of his ways. 

But that doesn't matter because he was previously a white racists and deserves to be painted with the same tarbrush that everyone else is nowadays?    It's the hypocrisy of ignoring the efforts a Jewish woman had in reforming an avowed racist that offends me, not the fact that he was racist and they're condemning him for it.
Again, I quoted from works written during and after his marriage above. These are things he was saying, in public, during the period when you claim he had stopped. What he wrote privately to a couple of white guys really doesn't ameliorate what he said publicly to thousands of people in any way, especially given that he was still being very racist.

Seriously, stop hiding behind "But his wife was a Jewish woman!" and look at what he said during and after her influence. Look at what he said about her and about Jewish people in that time.

Apologizing makes zero difference when you do it a) in private, b) to a third party instead of the people you hurt, and c) in lieu of actually correcting your behaviour. If anything, it earns negative points, because you're trying to position yourself disingenuously as one of the good guys.

EDIT: Also, keep in mind that the question here isn't "Was he, on balance, a good person?" It's "Is he worthy of literally being one of the most prestigious awards in fantasy?" Even if he had reformed perfectly late in life and become a model of egalitarianism, it doesn't change the fact that most of his writings - the things that get him into the category of "fantasy writer" in the first place and the things he is best known for - are still horribly racist. If he had reformed perfectly, the answer there would be "don't continue to act like he's horrible, but don't laud his horribly racist shit".
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 02:25:57 PM by Ephiral »

Offline Cycle

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 04:47:40 PM »
It's the hypocrisy of ignoring the efforts a Jewish woman had in reforming an avowed racist that offends me, not the fact that he was racist and they're condemning him for it.

Don't her efforts go towards giving her recognition?  Why does he get credit for it?


Offline MnemaxaTopic starter

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2015, 05:36:53 PM »
Don't her efforts go towards giving her recognition?  Why does he get credit for it?

Exactly.  She is being completely ignored.

Offline Cycle

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2015, 05:46:37 PM »
No, no.  I mean if she is such a wonderful person for having changed a racist's attitude, then an award should be in her name.  Not his. 


Offline MnemaxaTopic starter

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2015, 06:31:28 PM »
No, no.  I mean if she is such a wonderful person for having changed a racist's attitude, then an award should be in her name.  Not his.

I would be okay with that too. 

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Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2015, 07:01:37 PM »
Here's a silly question:

If the Fantasy Awards board had simply changed the statue without comment, would it have been a big deal?

Offline MnemaxaTopic starter

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2015, 12:54:18 AM »
Here's a silly question:

If the Fantasy Awards board had simply changed the statue without comment, would it have been a big deal?

Probably not - that's been done on many occasions with other awards.  Pushing agendas can be just as offensive has being offended by reality.  Sure, he was racist, but the award was never about racism.  It was about coming from nothing and changing an entire genre to the point that nearly a century later people still base much of the genre off of his concepts, which very few authors can even have laid claim to.

Sadly, the award's value revolves around race now, and that's a tragedy.  Accomplishments now take second seat to politics - the Hugos, and now this.  Next the Nebulas will be accused of going onto to one or another group, and that will be followed by other awards being accused of favoritism, until the entire point of the awards is lost in a mire of pointless arguing. 

I can see how people would take offense, and why.  His accomplishments outlived him, and will continue to do so for centuries.  But that's not important it seems.  All that's important is that he was racist, like 99% of the population was in that era, and that makes the concept of breaking new ground in fantasy racist too?  If they didn't have to make it about race, it wouldn't have mattered. 

But if they change the bust to someone else - and they most likely will, because politics - they'd best choose carefully. 



Offline Sethala

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2016, 04:08:11 AM »
Been up for way too long to think of much coherent thoughts on the matter, but...

I don't think I'm conflicted with the idea of removing his statue due to his decidedly non-PC views of things.  What does bother me somewhat is who they replaced him with.

Now, I'm not a big reader, I'll be honest, so it's entirely possible that she's way more popular than I'm giving her credit for.  But when I look at Lovecraft and see just how much of his writing has continued through the decades, and how the stories and ideas he wrote about are still being used to this day for new things, I really can't agree with replacing him with someone I've never even heard of before now.

And, this may just be me being paranoid and overly-sensitive to thinking the world's becoming a little too politically correct, but seeing him being removed because of racist views, and replaced by someone that I don't feel deserves such prestige, when that person happens to be of a minority race, makes me suspect that this is based way more in political agenda than actually honoring an author.  I'm not saying she shouldn't have gotten it just because she's black, but I do wonder if she would still have gotten it if she were white, and if the answer is "no", then I'm definitely against it.

Though again, this may just be my lack of ability to keep up with current authors and such.  Does anyone else here have any idea how popular she is?  Or is she really as unknown as I think she is?

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Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2016, 10:18:31 AM »
Though again, this may just be my lack of ability to keep up with current authors and such.  Does anyone else here have any idea how popular she is?  Or is she really as unknown as I think she is?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octavia_E._Butler

Two Nebula awards (four nominations), two Hugos, and induction into the SFHF

Offline Sethala

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2016, 05:18:37 PM »
Hm, guess I'm just not with the times any more. 

Offline Humble Scribe

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2016, 09:54:19 AM »
I'm a big fan of Lovecraft and his writing, but I am supremely unmoved by this debate. I think it's very hard to defend him against charges of racism. What especially exercised him was miscegenation, and a good number of his stories (the Shadow Over Innsmouth, Arthur Jermyn etc) depend on the "horror" of discovering a "taint" in a person's bloodline. Read his descriptions of New York in The Horror At Red Hook and you'd think he was describing the lowest pits of hell, rather than a bustling, multicultural neighbourhood. He liked Providence because he felt it hadn't been "ruined" by immigration (Irish, East European, Chinese or African immigration that is - English immigrants like his family were fine of course). I do also think that his squeamishness on the subject (and his horror of sex in general) is in many ways one of the things that gives his work its power, and of course he was "of his time" and there were plenty worse - try reading Bulldog Drummond sometime. But then no-one gives away statues of 'Sapper' or Sax Rohmer either, and replacing him with someone who better represents our own era and it's thinking - why not? It's just a statuette.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 09:58:31 AM by Humble Scribe »

Offline Far eyes

Re: A brief rant of HP Lovecraft's Bust and the Fantasy Awards.
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2016, 01:25:40 AM »
Here is my main problem with some peoples needs to to complacently agree and love everything about the author of a peace of work. Especially when they are notably far removed from your time period, everybody was racist to some definition of the current modern term. Get over it, there are no perfect peaple... i am prty sure at some point in his life the Dalai Lama did something dickish. There are no perfect people and demanding that the author of something you like is also a perfect person to your modern definition of it is..  pointless. 

Its like reading a book written in the 1900 and complaining about its gender equality.

I am not saying you have to like it, by all means dislike it for any number of your own reasons. Maybe finding out that the author of a book is not the shining beacon of humanity trough the ages diminishes your like for that book thats regrettable but i feel like its on you.
 
And Rand is awful on multiple levels, she also wrote some trite crap.