H.P. Lovecraft’s views on race have sparked yet another controversy, as internet activists have taken issue with the late author being awarded the 1945 Retro-Hugo award for “Best Series” for his work in “The Cthulhu Mythos.”
The ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ is a collection of stories featuring a shared assortment of elements, characters, and settings based on Lovecraft’s fictional worlds. Contributors to The Cthulhu Mythos included Arkham House founder August Derleth and ‘Psycho’ author Robert Bloch.
The Cthulhu Mythos was nominated alongside Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Pellucidar, Maxwell Grant’s The Savage and others. You can see the full list below.
On July 29th, the decision that Lovecraft was officially selected as the recipient of the posthumous award was announced on The Hugo Awards’ official Twitter account:
Shortly after this announcement, a storm of criticisms struck the tweet.
Some users implied that this was bad timing for Lovecraft to receive such an award due to both his views on those of African descent and the current social unrest occurring across the United States:
One user only blasted the author, but also took a shot at Cosmic Horror itself, claiming that the genre was “boring” and required a level of “narcissism” to find “horrific”.
Others lamented the fact that Lovecraft’s views on race hadn’t caught up with modern sensibilities, with some further arguing that any author with antiquated views should be disqualified from getting any awards.
Alton Brumley wrote, “Yall could just not give awards to racists.”
Twitter user Nightmusics wrote, “The decision to elevate Lovecraft now was grotesquely misguided.”
Molly Atkins added, “Yikes. That’s… not a good choice. Even his peers of the era were like, ‘Yoooo, Howard. That’s some racist stuff you’ve got going on there. You should probably dial that back.'”
Another wrote, “My dudes, Lovecraft should have been permanently, retroactively disqualified on the basis of naming hiss cat the n-word ALONE. this is not a good look for the post-puppies Hugos.”
Extreme criticism of Lovecraft’s outdated views on race is not a new phenomenon, but a recent trend has seen companies use elements of Lovecraft’s mythos in their products while subsequently condemning the author.
The popular MOBA game Smite recently introduced Cthulhu as a playable character while simultaneously denouncing the author, declaring “We welcome Cthulhu to SMITE, not Lovecraft; racism and homophobia have no place in SMITE, period.”
The use of the Cthulu Mythos for table-top RPG developer Evil Hat Productions’ Kickstarted ‘Fate of Cthulhu’ did not deter the company from including an entry in their game’s rulebook declaring that Lovecraft was an unforgivable “racist and anti-semite“.
Though not famous while alive, the father of cosmic horror found new life in the public domain, where his works have flourished and gone on to inspire countless writers, artists, and readers.
We see this very vividly in John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” Arguably a horrific love letter to one of Lovecraft’s greatest stories, “At the Mountains of Madness.”
Many elements of both the stories and cosmic horror are hardwired into what many consider one of Carpenter’s best movies.
What do you think of the attacks on H.P. Lovecraft by internet activists? Could modern readers make peace with the views of long-dead authors?