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Author Topic: Things that made you sad today thread.  (Read 4722434 times)

itisnotlogical

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116475 on: September 21, 2019, 10:17:31 pm »

snip

That seems positively mild compared to Lovecraft's brand of racism. Dude's primary scares were "black people ancestry" and "black people magic." There's one story where a guy goes insane and kills himself because he found out that he had some African ancestors way back in the past.

I mean, I'm way more familiar with Lovecraft than Conan, but the specific example you provided seems pretty mild in comparison, s'all I'm saying.
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MrRoboto75

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116476 on: September 21, 2019, 10:45:08 pm »

Actually from what I understand Howard and Lovecraft were friends back in the day.
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Reelya

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116477 on: Today at 01:58:55 am »

In Pre-WWII fiction this was all the norm. Take the original plot of Buck Rogers for example. The story is that Rogers is knocked out by some underground gas, wakes up centuries later when asiatics, called "Mongolians" in the story (the "yellow peril" basically) have taken over America, and razed all the cities to the ground, because that's what Asians do apparently: raze all traces of civilization to the ground. Rogers then teams up with some nice white frontiers types who live in the wilderness to fight back against the Mongolians in their super-fortresses.

but we have to think about what pre-WWII life was really like. Air travel was pretty much non-existent, there was no internet, there wasn't even television yet. If you went anywhere it was weeks or months on a boat. Having weird ideas about what other places were like and the "alien-ness" of other races was pretty normal.

EDIT: another thought here, but now we think it's racist to believe that another race coming in means your existential destruction. But, can you blame historical people from assuming this is true? White immigrants certainly didn't peacefully co-exist with the native Americans, so would it have been that unthinkable that if the nation let in large numbers of some other race, that race might do the same thing to the current people? Other races coming in and taking over then killing everyone who's left was actually a common occurrence.
« Last Edit: Today at 02:05:46 am by Reelya »
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lemon10

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116478 on: Today at 02:49:04 am »

snip

That seems positively mild compared to Lovecraft's brand of racism. Dude's primary scares were "black people ancestry" and "black people magic." There's one story where a guy goes insane and kills himself because he found out that he had some African ancestors way back in the past.

I mean, I'm way more familiar with Lovecraft than Conan, but the specific example you provided seems pretty mild in comparison, s'all I'm saying.
When I read Conan I was looking to see if there was any racism like was in Lovecraft's stuff, and when I read (around a book's worth of) Lovecraft's stuff ages ago I had no clue that he was racist to the extent that all my knowledge of him being racist was picked up on the internet.
So its entirely possible that was the reason that I noticed it a bunch more in Conan.
However, I don't think its that at all. It seems to me that even if he is more racist (and from what I can tell on from my meager searches he is) his prose and writing is more complex that makes it harder to say that these random black people are evil because they are black as opposed to just being evil.
Even rereading some of his more racist stories (such as "The Cats of Ulthar", where "dark wanderer's" eat a bunch of people's cats) without knowledge of his rasicm it just sounds like a couple of crazy evil people that eat cats, and ya know, not a reflection of his views on race.
(Also, I didn't really realize that swarthy=black/dark skin until I looked it up like 20 seconds ago, so every time he uses it he's calling people black, and he does use it to describe evil people a bunch, which uh... makes things a bit worse in a bunch of stories).

However *do* note Howard still wrote quite a few non-Conan stories that are much more racist then what I listed, such as "The Last White Man", so he isn't going to lose to Lovecraft in racism that badly.
Actually from what I understand Howard and Lovecraft were friends back in the day.
Yeah, there was a quote from him in the intro to the book saying that Howard's writing was nearly perfect (except for some minor thing I can't recall).
In addition, the wikipedia article on Lovecraft even notes "[Lovecraft] was also deeply affected by the suicide of his correspondent Robert E. Howard." So yeah, there were best of pals.
« Last Edit: Today at 02:52:06 am by lemon10 »
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Reelya

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116479 on: Today at 03:21:47 am »

Even rereading some of his more racist stories (such as "The Cats of Ulthar", where "dark wanderer's" eat a bunch of people's cats) without knowledge of his rasicm it just sounds like a couple of crazy evil people that eat cats, and ya know, not a reflection of his views on race.

It's hard to say whether that's really racist even then.

Koreans eat dogs, it's not a racist statement, just an observation. Obviously, not all Koreans eat dogs, but it's a known Korean thing. (EDIT: There are attempts to stop it, but e.g. they closed the largest slaughterhouse for dogs in November of last year, so 10 months ago. So it's declining, but it's still very much part of Korean modern history, and prevalent enough that there are ongoing national government attempts to shut down the industry).
 
It's not racist to point that out, and that that's culturally different to America. It's also not racist to say you don't like it, any more than it's racist to say that you don't like Japanese whale hunters. "Korean" is a race, yep, but it's not racism if you depict a Korean eating a dog, then don't equally allow for white Americans eating dogs in your story, since that' wouldn't in fact reflect reality.

If you wrote a story (set in the past) in which some Korean immigrants ate some dogs and this upset the locals, would that be racist and you can say that such a thing should never happen in your story? If so, then such a restriction isn't about being accurate it's about sanitizing reality. The truth is, the example in that story is well within the bounds of normal cultural differences that do cause offense.

EDIT: The reaction to the fear of being called racist might make us sanitize our depictions, to the point that we "white them up" by making the depicted other races conform to accepted social norms of our own society. I think that it's distinctly possible that we do this without realizing it. Chinese people do some things that would be consider very rude in America, but if you depict a "rude Chinese" you might be accused of racist depiction, so people make sure that their depictions of Chinese people adhere to at least western standards of politeness, for example.
« Last Edit: Today at 03:41:42 am by Reelya »
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itisnotlogical

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116480 on: Today at 04:50:13 am »

Edit: I'm not saying you're lying about the dog thing, I'm talking more about totally fictional depictions.

I mean, a story written during a given time is typically going to represent the commonly-held views of the author's social context in that time period. Whether it's accurate to their knowledge has little bearing on how it will read after a century or so of social and political upheavals. In an era where people are both more alert to and more disapproving of racism, a story about "Mongolians" from space destroying the world, or a brave explorer slaughtering thousands of "red savages," will start to sound a little strange.

Whether stories like Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas or The Last Samurai are accurate, they're a lot more palatable as big-budget films nowadays than "a white army slaughters an indigenous people for profit, is widely celebrated, and suffers no consequences for doing so."
« Last Edit: Today at 04:52:13 am by itisnotlogical »
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Reelya

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116481 on: Today at 04:59:31 am »

That's of course true, the interpretation of a work will change. But to then say "Howard was a racist" is something we almost can't define by this set of standards. If he held to beliefs that he only held because everyone else believed them, what basis do we have to label him as an individual with that shortcoming? It could almost be compared to saying "Howard was an ignoramus" because we know some scientific fact that wasn't known to him and his contemporaries. We may well adhere to a modern standard view of race, however we hold those views with zero cost and zero effort, because they are in fact the prevailing norms. We shouldn't back-slap ourselves for knowing better than someone else about race from a previous era, any more than we should laugh at some previous era not knowing some scientific fact, when most of us probably only know about it from watching Youtube videos or some such.

EDIT: if you want racism from early sci-fi writers, take a look at HG Wells

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/19/white-supremacist-statues-must-fall-scientists
Quote
Wells gave a glimpse into his flavour of utopia when he wrote in 1901 that “those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people” that fail to be “efficient” would have “to die out and disappear”.

There's a bit of the quote after that, which basically says that those doing the actual killing would feel better because they could look forward to the better world they were creating. i.e. a world of only white people. Pretty much reads like stuff the Nazis said about how they need the SS to do the unfortunate dirty work.
« Last Edit: Today at 05:12:06 am by Reelya »
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Th4DwArfY1

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116482 on: Today at 05:11:51 am »

I think it's difficult to term someone from that era racist, mainly because we are condemning those in the past with our particular moral values. A man marrying a woman and expecting her to cook isn't sexism as we would know it today as a) it was fairly common and b) it lacks any self-conscious elements of sexism.

The same incident today can be termed sexism because the man is consciously deciding to be sexist.

Obviously just thinking that one isn't sexist doesn't make it true, but it's more profound in the past because they lacked the social framework to even understand what sexism was. And, of course, there was immense social validation from both men and women for what we would now consider sexist practices.

I suppose I'm warning you not to look at the past with today's biases. It's a historians 101.
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Reelya

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116483 on: Today at 05:17:40 am »

It's possibly even a double-standard too. Don't we do a ton of stuff that would have been deemed offensive in another age? We have to assume that works both ways. Stuff we do now will one day seem fucked up and offensive.

Also, we can't even be sure which things we do now will seem offensive to future generations. I read somewhere some author making the point, but they assumed the future would just be even more politically correct about the things we're politically correct about now. So, they assumed that some sort of cringe we have about, for example, cultural appropriation now would just give way to a stronger version of the same cringe, later. Maybe using futons or something would seem racist in 20 years, because it's cultural appropriation of Japanese futons, and they're not exactly like the Japanese ones, or something. That was the implication.

But, that's kind of a huge assumption right there: that the future will just be our current biases and trends, but extrapolated. What we can be sure of is only this: some of the things that really offend and concern people right now, will seem extremely silly in 100 years, and some of the things that pretty much everyone thinks are acceptable will seem beyond belief. And, nobody can predict which is which, or even what things future generations will notice about us. It'll be something we find innocuous that future generations think is appalling, and we probably can't even comprehend right now exactly how or why they'll think it's appalling*, but it'll make perfect sense to them. There will be new "isms" by then, and we will be accused of breaking them, in ways we probably can't even articulate yet.

*Although at a guess I'd hazard that us eating meat might be a thing, and they'll be amazed that we get really offended because someone tried on a kimono, on the basis of not offending a nation that harpoons whales to death, and we're probably chowing down on a hotdog while complaining about it. All other "isms" that concern us might just pale before such "species-ism" by which the future defines what they think of our ethics: Oh, so we're super upset that someone made a joke about Chinese drivers? But ... we're a race of ghoulish murderers. (EDIT) Maybe vegans will be looked on more kindly, however, most of them are like "you do you" to the ghoulish murderers. Like if you lived next door to someone who raised children and ate them and you were personally "no thanks I don't much like eating children" but didn't do anything, d'ya think other would look kindly on your abstinence? Maybe the future will look on current non-meat eaters similar to people who turned a blind eye to the Nazis taking Jews away.
« Last Edit: Today at 05:48:47 am by Reelya »
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JoshuaFH

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Re: Things that made you sad today thread.
« Reply #116484 on: Today at 07:15:53 am »

that the future will just be our current biases and trends, but extrapolated. What we can be sure of is only this: some of the things that really offend and concern people right now, will seem extremely silly in 100 years

I think it's plenty likely that this will be true, but in the opposite direction. People won't be concerned about political correctness because survival might be every person's ultimate concern. Can't be concerned at all about vegetarianism, or LGBTQ rights, or cultural sensitivity, or anything when just getting through the day takes all your thoughts and efforts. Assuming people are even reading about today's history in 100 years, they probably wouldn't even notice the rampant cultural conflict and tense political climate, they'd just be jealous of how easy our lives are.
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