Cthulu Game Creators Acknowledge That Lovecraft Was A Racist

Illustration for article titled iCthulu/i Game Creators Acknowledge That Lovecraft Was A Racist

H. P. Lovecraft was a very talented writer whose Cthulhu mythos is one of the absolute great works of modern fiction. He was also—and this is something very few companies profiting off his works will acknowledge—a massive racist.

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I’m not talking about “oh, this was the old days, he had some antiquated views like a lotta folks did” kinda racism. Lovecraft was a straight-up white supremacist, whose personal writings on Italians, blacks and Jews were as horrific as any of his supernatural horror stories. This excellent piece for Lit Hub by Wes House summarizes:

His letters overflow with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of an underground Jewry pitting the economic, social, and literary worlds of New York City against “the Aryan race.” He warned of “the Jew [who] must be muzzled” because “[he] insidiously degrades [and] Orientalizes [the] robust Aryan civilization.” His sympathies with rising fascism were equally transparent. “[Hitler’s] vision . . . is romantic and immature,” he stated after Hitler became chancellor of Germany. “I know he’s a clown but god I like the boy!”

And his contempt for blacks ran even deeper. In his 1912 poem entitled “On the Creation of Niggers,” the gods, having just designed Man and Beast, create blacks in semi-human form to populate the space in between. Regarding the domestic terrorism of white minorities in the predominantly black Alabama and Mississippi, he excused them for “resorting to extra-legal measures such as lynching and intimidation [because] the legal machinery does not sufficiently protect them.” He lamented these sullen tensions as unfortunate, but nevertheless says that “anything is better than the mongrelisation which would mean the hopeless deterioration of a great nation.” Miscegenation permeates his letters and stories as his most corporeal fear; he insists that only “pain and disaster [could] come from the mingling of black and white.”

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Yeah, yikes. So it’s nice to see Evil Hat Productions, the team behind the upcoming tabletop RPG Fate of Cthulhu, include a note in the book referencing this:

Here’s a bigger version if you’re on a phone:

Illustration for article titled iCthulu/i Game Creators Acknowledge That Lovecraft Was A Racist
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I say it’s nice because across comics, board and video games, I don’t remember ever seeing this before, despite it being one of the great unspoken facts behind so much of Lovecraft’s inspiration and writing.

Nobody is saying don’t indulge in works of a Lovecraftian nature. This is coming from the folks behind a game based on Cthulu, after all. But, just as Warner Bros. has done with its pre-cartoon warnings, it’s still important in the 21st century to acknowledge (if only for the sake of education) that some of our most beloved works come from a less than agreeable place, and hopefully this convinces other companies working from Lovecraft’s writings in 2020, like Fantasy Flight, to follow suit.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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DISCUSSION

jamiethomaswhite
Jamie White

I really don’t get the need to say this every bloody five seconds. Why do we need this pointed out time and time again, specifically with H P Lovecraft? Go back (not even that far), especially in Western history, and you will find racists everywhere, people who “owned” slaves. People who’ve won the Nobel Peace prize for gods sake.

I’ve never read Lovecraft, tried a few times but couldn’t get into it, but I have read books, played a few games and watched a bunch of films inspired by him. He’s given form to something we all think or fantasize about at some point. Perhaps some of those works have achieved much greater heights than his works were capable of, and with even more universal (read: less racist) appeal. Should we burn it all down and forgo any connection to the man? Should we never read or engage with anything directly related to him?

What I’m asking is, what do you ultimately want? Where are you going with all this?

If art is racist, is it not art anymore? If an artist is racist but a work is not transparently racist, can you separate the art from the artist and enjoy it?