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Author Topic: Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe  (Read 982 times)

Lynn

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« on: August 13, 2020, 01:30:34 AM »
HBO has been promoting their TV series based on Matt Ruff's book Lovecraft Country. If you are a bit curious about it, I have written a review of the book. It triggered at least one person over on one of the Lovecraft FB groups so I must have gotten something right. Anyone else read this or one?
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Shrieking Banshee

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2020, 01:47:49 AM »
Hot take on my end: Lovecrafts work wouldn't have been as effective if he wasn't a racist. You need a deep seated paranoia and fear to make what he did. And despite being his target of fear, I find his quality of work to have values that trancend race and class paradoxically. Despite being a massive racist, the guys work resonates with me deeply on a values level in the feeling of isloation and lonliness.

Thats the power of art over pure propaganda.

Ghostmaker

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2020, 10:18:23 AM »
Cthulhu does not care what color you are when he eats you.

Trond

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2020, 10:44:27 AM »
Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1144655
Hot take on my end: Lovecrafts work wouldn't have been as effective if he wasn't a racist. You need a deep seated paranoia and fear to make what he did. And despite being his target of fear, I find his quality of work to have values that trancend race and class paradoxically. Despite being a massive racist, the guys work resonates with me deeply on a values level in the feeling of isloation and lonliness.

Thats the power of art over pure propaganda.



I knew it! You're a blasphemous abomination from space.

Lynn

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2020, 12:23:14 PM »
Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1144655
Hot take on my end: Lovecrafts work wouldn't have been as effective if he wasn't a racist. You need a deep seated paranoia and fear to make what he did. And despite being his target of fear, I find his quality of work to have values that trancend race and class paradoxically. Despite being a massive racist, the guys work resonates with me deeply on a values level in the feeling of isloation and lonliness. Thats the power of art over pure propaganda.

What I find interesting is that the torch & pitchforks crowd ignore the handful of positive depictions of minorities, such as the doctor in "Cool Air" and the elderly Black couple living in the old Curwen house in the "Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward."
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Omega

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2020, 01:13:57 AM »
Quote from: Lynn;1144881
What I find interesting is that the torch & pitchforks crowd ignore the handful of positive depictions of minorities, such as the doctor in "Cool Air" and the elderly Black couple living in the old Curwen house in the "Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward."

Or the minorities keeping the thing from the Shining Trapezohedron at bay with nightly vigils.

But of course racists see racism everywhere.

Lynn

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2020, 01:53:33 PM »
Quote from: Omega;1145052
Or the minorities keeping the thing from the Shining Trapezohedron at bay with nightly vigils.

But of course racists see racism everywhere.

That's an interesting one that nobody mentioned in the Q&A on Quora.
Lynn Fredricks
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Trond

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2020, 11:31:27 PM »
I am watching the show right now. First question: are American movie makers capable of making movies with black folks without making it all about racism?

I find the view of the past here bizarre. Do they really think that if som black people went to the wrong town in the fifties white people would immediately start shooting? Or that virtually every conversation that black people had was about racism?

Omega

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2020, 04:59:48 AM »
Quote from: Trond;1145180
I am watching the show right now. First question: are American movie makers capable of making movies with black folks without making it all about racism?

I find the view of the past here bizarre. Do they really think that if som black people went to the wrong town in the fifties white people would immediately start shooting? Or that virtually every conversation that black people had was about racism?

Modern ones... Yes. This goes back at least to the 90s when it crept into comics now and then. Rare, but saw it even then. I know it wasnt really. But it felt like every time someone black went into the modern past it was wall to wall racist. Pretty sure it popped up in one or two TV series as well.

Lynn

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2020, 12:16:04 PM »
Quote from: Trond;1145180
I am watching the show right now. First question: are American movie makers capable of making movies with black folks without making it all about racism?  I find the view of the past here bizarre. Do they really think that if som black people went to the wrong town in the fifties white people would immediately start shooting? Or that virtually every conversation that black people had was about racism?

That's reflected in the book. There are no positive interactions with white people, and all white people in the book are bad. Atticus gets the attention of police constantly, abused, shot at by cops at a distance and the like.

While it is possible that could have happened, in the book it happens in every town. While the setting is (at times) the "Jim Crow South", there is also the problem that this represents all of America. And while all of America did have some form of segregation, it wasn't all Jim Crow.

I found the constant talk about racism also to be quite revisionist. You don't have to express dismay over every thing which is understood to be the norm. That's the sort of thing that at least in film or television, could and should be expressed through character expression. It reminds me of the rather horrible acting in "The Handmaiden's Tale" when the main character shows clear and obvious hatred on her face to the 'masters.' That is clearly to the benefit of the revisionist audience, since that nasty expression would have been slapped away the first time it appeared.
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Trond

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2020, 03:23:15 PM »
Quote from: Lynn;1145261
That's reflected in the book. There are no positive interactions with white people, and all white people in the book are bad. Atticus gets the attention of police constantly, abused, shot at by cops at a distance and the like.

While it is possible that could have happened, in the book it happens in every town. While the setting is (at times) the "Jim Crow South", there is also the problem that this represents all of America. And while all of America did have some form of segregation, it wasn't all Jim Crow.

I found the constant talk about racism also to be quite revisionist. You don't have to express dismay over every thing which is understood to be the norm. That's the sort of thing that at least in film or television, could and should be expressed through character expression. It reminds me of the rather horrible acting in "The Handmaiden's Tale" when the main character shows clear and obvious hatred on her face to the 'masters.' That is clearly to the benefit of the revisionist audience, since that nasty expression would have been slapped away the first time it appeared.

I am also thinking in terms of how I would think about this if I were black. I would go insane with all the "you're oppressed, poor you, always".

Shrieking Banshee

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2020, 11:50:35 PM »
Quote from: Lynn;1145261
That is clearly to the benefit of the revisionist audience, since that nasty expression would have been slapped away the first time it appeared.
Yes it is. George Orwell feared that people in control would try to force all language to a state of binary in order to control people. What he didn't predict was that it could also be done to placate people as well.

Lovecraftian Horror goes beyond race and requires an opening up of the mind. But these people have drugged themselves on the pathetic wretched opium of binary thinking. Everything must go to race or sex or whatever. Its a comforting worldview in a way.

Quote from: Trond;1145282
I would go insane with all the "you're oppressed, poor you, always".
You might have but it is also very validating. 'You're never at fault at anything' is a very comforting thought.

Lynn

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2020, 09:46:45 PM »
An FYI for those that are interested. The first episode of Lovecraft Country is on HBO's Youtube account, free.
Lynn Fredricks
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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2020, 03:05:04 AM »
I would read the reivew but the whole Watchmen thing kinda soured me on modern series with racial american themes. Its as if USA invented slavery in their minds. They ignore all this shit going on in the rest of the world, for example white slavery. And yes, it exists too, when are we going to get some of that in media?

BoxCrayonTales

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Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff is a Good Jaffe
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2020, 02:20:01 PM »
Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1144655
Hot take on my end: Lovecrafts work wouldn't have been as effective if he wasn't a racist. You need a deep seated paranoia and fear to make what he did. And despite being his target of fear, I find his quality of work to have values that trancend race and class paradoxically. Despite being a massive racist, the guys work resonates with me deeply on a values level in the feeling of isloation and lonliness.

Thats the power of art over pure propaganda.

Not only that, but a number of mythos fiction actually challenges Lovecraft's racism and wouldn't be able to do that if he wasn't racist. Lovecraft Country wouldn't exist if Lovecraft wasn't racist. Neither would stories like "The Litany of Earth" or "The Black Brat of Dunwich" which depict Lovecraft's monsters as the victims.

("The Black Brat" is also technically a body horror story. Imagine what it must be like to be a yog-spawn and not wanting to destroy the world.)

Quote from: Lynn;1144881
What I find interesting is that the torch & pitchforks crowd ignore the handful of positive depictions of minorities, such as the doctor in "Cool Air" and the elderly Black couple living in the old Curwen house in the "Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward."


Quote from: Omega;1145052
Or the minorities keeping the thing from the Shining Trapezohedron at bay with nightly vigils.

But of course racists see racism everywhere.


Plenty of Lovecraft's stories, like "The Dunwich Horror" and "Beyond the Wall of Sleep," depict white hillbillies as subhuman vermin too.

Quote from: Trond;1145180
I am watching the show right now. First question: are American movie makers capable of making movies with black folks without making it all about racism?

I find the view of the past here bizarre. Do they really think that if som black people went to the wrong town in the fifties white people would immediately start shooting? Or that virtually every conversation that black people had was about racism?

It's ironic, because there's a "Race Bechdel Test" that exists specifically to prevent movie makers from doing precisely this.

In order to pass the test, you need to have two or more named black characters talk to each other about something other than whites/racism. It's a very low bar, too.