Thoughts On Inclusion/Diversity

Lovecraft Country

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Hey guys,After Sunday’s instacast and some of the discussion on Discord, I wanted to write in. I have been turning these thoughts over in my head for a while now (not just in the context of this show) but they may still be somewhat protean. I will further caveat by saying that I am a 50 year old white guy whose ancestry is exclusively Western European and so northern that the ‘southern’ branch of my family is like New York City… all by way of saying I am even older and whiter than Gene :p I have been thinking a lot about the topic of representation/inclusion. I have no issues with increasing representation in books, movies and TV. Though I will often ask the question are you just checking a box or are you enhancing the story. So going back to a Twitch discussion, if Disney wants to make Ariel black, knock themselves out. But I am also not going to herald Disney’s ‘bold choice’ if they are just checking a box. On a personal basis I read a lot (90-100 books a year). I have made a real effort over the past few years to make my reading list more inclusive, esp in fantasy and sci-fi. So authors like NK Jemison, Nnedi Okorafor, P Djeli Clark, Omar El Akkad, RF Kuang, SA Chakraborty, Justina Ireland and many others have made it onto my ‘shelves’. In non-fiction, I recently read ‘Caste’ by Isabel Wilkerson and would rate it as one of the five best books I have ever read. My long-winded point is that I am trying and I find value in the effort. My issue is that I feel like a lot folks out there want all of the following when it comes to inclusion – 1) more of it, 2) universal acceptance of it, 3) the community needs to approve of the portrayal, and 4) those not part of the community aren’t allowed to critique. The problem is that 3 and 4 often conflict with 1 and 2. We are allowed to hold multiple thoughts simultaneously. I can be generally in favor of diversity/inclusion without having to extol any particular work simply for that fact. To me at least, for a work of art of any kind – traditional, musical, visual, written – to achieve greatness it must on some level be universal. So for example, hypothetically, if the only way to truly appreciate last week’s LC episode is via the lived experience of a black woman, okay that’s fine, but then don’t expect the rest of us to rave about how great it was. Now I liked last week better than you all did, but still thought it was kind of a hot mess (esp when compared to the same chapter in the book). Part of it when it comes to this particular show is that Matt Ruff’s book in blending the horrors of racism/segregation with the Lovecraftian horror is ambitious in and of itself. But then the writers and producers have added so much other stuff to the mix – let’s make Montrose gay, let’s kill off George, let’s make Leti and Tic a thing oh and let’s make her pregnant, let’s invent a whole supernatural Korean War backstory – that it is probably impossible to do it all justice in just ten episodes. And it is perfectly fine for me (or you) to admire the boldness and risks they took while simultaneously talking about the ways it may have come up short. In any event, hopefully you stick with it thru the conclusion. Between the pandemic and being unable to get my kids interested in the show, I have enjoyed having the podcast and your other forums to form a community to watch with. And if folks think you’re negative about this show, I would direct them to the American Gods podcast for some real negativity (which I enjoyed as a companion to the show btw). All the best,Michael in NH (aka Internet Hippo)

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