Eldritch Terror and the White Man’s Burden: H.P. Lovecraft’s Xenophobia

I’m a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories. They evoke a sense of wonder, dread, and the allure of forbidden knowledge. As Neil Gaiman has stated1, “Lovecraft built the stage on which most of the last century’s horror fiction was performed.” He draws the reader into a world of arcane mystery and nameless horror, threatening his protagonists’ sanity and indeed their very lives with a sense of addictive fascination that practically flows out of the page. Lovecraft’s method of “describing the indescribable” with florid and evocative language has all but made him a genre unto himself.

H.P. LovecraftHowever, he was also a racist imperialist whose protagonists share those biases in spades.

While that never stopped me enjoying his stories, it is sometimes off-putting and makes much of his stuff difficult to read. It is tempting to contextualize this to the period he was writing (where such attitudes were expressed openly), but Lovecraft’s social and racial elitism was considered beyond the pale even for his times; though the tone of his arguments on this topic became more general over the years, they did not appear to change with the times. His correspondence (much of which has been collected and published by S. T. Joshi) bears this out.

But as I’ve re-read his stories over the years, something has dawned on me: the often wholesale embrace of “the white man’s burden” is not only a central metaphor in Lovecraft’s work, it often deepens the isolation of his characters and heightens their peril.

TW: Racist and imperialist language and themes, as well as ableist language and themes, after the jump.

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Throwback Thursdays: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

atlantis the lost empireWhen you were a kid, did you ever want to be an adventurer and discover the lost civilization of Atlantis? Because I sure did. Then I grew up and became terrified of the ocean, so that put an end to that dream. But I always had a soft spot in my heart for Disney’s 2001 film, Atlantis: The Lost Empire. At least, I did until I rewatched it recently. Spoilers for an old Disney film after the jump.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Religious Colonialism in Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale is a show that gives us a great example of what intersectional feminism actually looks like in popular media and storytelling. It has excellent female characters, most of whom are women of color; it has characters with disabilities, two queer main characters, and often points out problematic issues surrounding race, sexuality, gender, and disabilities. I am rarely, if ever, disappointed in Welcome to Night Vale, and now I have yet another reason as to why I love this show so much. Welcome to Night Vale is one of the few shows in recent memory to address how sinister the effects of religious colonialism can be on people. Religious colonialism is when the invading culture forces its own religious beliefs onto the native peoples it is conquering and simultaneously demonizes and outlaws the native religious beliefs.

Spoilers for the Strex Corp storyline below the cut.

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Five Reasons You Should Read The True Meaning of Smekday

the true meaning of smekdayBack in July I wrote a Trailer Tuesdays on Home, an adaptation of a children’s book called The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. After doing some research, I found out that the book was intended to be a satire of colonialism, and I thought to myself, “Luce, you should so read this book.”

So I did. And guess what? You should too. I have five very compelling reasons, as well as some slight spoilers, for you after the jump.

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