Lovecraft Country's Racist Horrors Are Rooted in Reality

Lovecraft Country’s trio of heroes realizing it’s them against the world.
Lovecraft Country’s trio of heroes realizing it’s them against the world.
Image: HBO

In HBO’s upcoming adaptation of Matt Ruff’s novel Lovecraft Country, a family of Black heroes find themselves having to face both the everyday racist realities of 1950s America and a whole host of demonic entities that seem to pop up wherever they go. During this year’s San Diego Comic-Con at Home, Lovecraft Country’s cast sat down to discuss the show’s narrative complexities and how the story it’s telling is firmly rooted in reality.

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Though the adventure that Atticus (Jonathan Majors), Leti (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and George (Courtney B. Vance) embark upon brings them face to face with the likes of literal demons, monsters, and magical Klansmen, Lovecraft Country’s as much a sci-fi and fantasy show as it is one about the real-world evils of anti-Black racism.

Majors described how, while reading his script for one scene in which Atticus is pulled over by a white police officer, he was immediately recognized the situation as something he’d been brought up to fear for obvious reasons. Familiar as those fears may be to Black audience members, Majors emphasized how important it is for Lovecraft Country to put that subject matter front and center.

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“You notice in that scene, it’s just people, you understand,” Majors pointed out. “The demonic spirit that’s entering in is that of, you know, racism, etc. That’s what we’re talking about; that’s what we’re showing in technicolor.”

The entire panel discussion’s worth giving a watch to learn more about the cast’s on-screen dynamics, and if you stick around until the very end, there’s a new extended clip from an upcoming episode ahead of Lovecraft Country’s premiere on August 16.


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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

data-chandler
Data Chandler

I might get a lot of flak for this, because with ill will it could be interpreted badly, but I would have vastly preferred a straight up adaptation of some of H.P. Lovecraft’s actual stories.

Yes, of course racism is terrible, Trump is the worst, etc, but “racism and bigotry were the real monsters all along” isn’t what I was hoping for from a Lovecraft movie or tv show. I guess I always figured one day somebody would find a way to really let the cosmic horror of Lovecraft shine, rather than have it be a vehicle for (valid!) social critique.

Hopefully this show turns out to be so amazing and popular that it will reignite interest in H.P. Lovecraft to such a degree that it opens the floodgates for actual Lovecraft story adaptations as well.

Edited to add: yes, I'm aware Lovecraft as an individual was, you know, probably a racist. I'm strictly saying I love his stories, cosmic horror, etc.