A Few Thoughts on Lovecraft Country

Westworld Telegraph

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Welcome back guys,

It’s really pleasing to hear you getting back into the saddle with Lovecraft Country.

I don’t know anything about the book and my knowledge of Lovecraft is limited so I am pretty much open minded as to where the show can go. I did watch Re-Animator in the mid 80s as a schoolboy (our local video store didn’t care that a lad in his school uniform rented 18-rated videos) which was my introduction to Lovecraft but apart from a few cultural references, not much exposure.

I was also pleased to hear that you were looking to be careful as to the discussions over race and giving space to black voices. As a white British bloke who lives in a city, Birmingham, that’s moving towards ethnic majority (i.e. no one culture or skin colour will have a majority population) in the next decade or so, we are seeing a debate over roles and opportunities as Covid19 has affected BAME families more. The British experience of race and racism has a different cultural expression to that in your country. We kept our brutality offshore which has led to a pretence that we were more decent. George Floyd’s death has opened up discussion here which has exposed a gap between overt and covert racism in how white and non-white Brits think.

All this is a long-winded way of saying I am looking forward to hearing different voices discussing the show through your platform. I always enjoy that aspect of the Shat family but given my distance from where the opening episode grounded the world in, it’s essential.

Saying that, I will still throw in a few thoughts on storytelling and show construction.

First, I appreciate the argument raised in the deep dive that the diner scene was incongruous to authenticity from a black perspective but my sense was that it was written to draw in white audiences to the constant threat of violence even in respectable communities to black people in the 50s. As a storytelling choice, it works for me in a really fast paced episode.

Second, I found myself appreciating the horror build up on the second watch. I had more suspense with familiarity as I got a sense of the world I was watching. Horror is about world building and drawing the viewer in whether you are trying to build unease or do jump shocks. There was just too busy to take in for it to work.

Third, I want to reference the trench warfare in the opening dream sequence. The horror of war feels an obvious undercurrent to the character of Atticus but when I saw the trenches, my first thought was First World War then I thought of the US Civil War. Trench warfare as we know it did start with your Civil War. So we have this imagery that allows us to reference the Civil War and the conflict over slavery, the First World War’s all consuming conflict, and also the Korean War which was a war against an ‘alien’ philosophy (communism). As a piece of symbolism, it felt important as much as anything else in the dream. I am looking forward to seeing how the dream connects to the rest of the season.

Fourth – “birthright” is an intriguing phrase. It has resonance with the civil rights movement and is something to be claimed.

Hope the season expands its world and is a little less frenetic over the next few episodes. An enjoyable start.

Take care Shat family

John Lish

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