Monday, February 14, 2011

I knew this was going to happen.

Over the last several weeks an interesting strain of conversation has been building around the blogosphere, Al Harron, Brian Murphy, Michal Wojcik, among many others, it's grown a bit, and spread, and now Leo Grin, formerly of the Cimmerian waded into the fray. The problem is of course I have with this, isn't his ideas about Fantasy literature.. The Problem is that his posting on a Political forum, and liking Robert E. Howard and Tolkien, has lead to stuff like...

"By the way, I get a very similar nihilistic feeling from both Howard and Abercrombie, and that may be a big reason why I don't particularly like either. Also, Howard is openly racist to a degree that's just shocking. Maybe that goes unnoticed in Right Wing American circles, but I find it risible. On the other hand, even though Abercrombie is a modern author, his portrayal of female characters is just awful, to the point of it feeling misogynist. (I could go on, but I don't want to derail the thread too much.) Both authors have plenty of testosterone, though, if that's your thing."

This was followed later by:

"Anyway, why switch to Abercrombie to make a point about misogyny? You were already talking about Robert Howard! "

There are internet forums all over full of this kind of stuff now. Whats worse, genuine loon John C. Wright has written an even more venomous blog post 'In solidarity" with Leo.

I hate to say it, as I am loth to tell some one to curtail their opinions.. but in Robert E. Howard fandom there is a distinct right-wing vein. I dislike that one of the only people who ever seems to talk about Howard in the media is John J. Miller. I say this not as some "College Educated liberal" since I would in no way fit that mold if you were to ever get me to talk politics. But that's just it.. I don't talk politics to the same people I talk about Robert E. Howard.. I compartmentalize.

If I'm trying to sell them Robert E. Howard the Product, which encapsulates the Man and his Writings. It's a hell of a lot harder to do if they are already disinclined to pay any attention because you just got doing telling them some one they dislike is the best president we ever had. Or worse, beyond them simply not likeing Robert E. Howard becuase they don't like you... they conflate Robert E. Howard's views with YOUR views and then spread those ideas. All the fantastic work that the Shield Warriors and Maidens who work tirelessly to improve REH's literary reputation.. it all can come to naught because of something like this.

Those Comments by the way, were on THE big forum for discussing George R.R. Martin's soon to be on HBO and seen by millions Fantasy series. a Forum thats easily got 4 times as many members as Those Comments aren't one-offs either. Those seem to be simply among the most vitriolically stated examples. Being that they are on a Forum with a large reader base, and one centered on a popular and soon to be extremely popular franchise.. They can do a lot more damage than can be quickly undone.

for full disclosure, it's not merely right-wing politics which I dislike.. I ceased posting at and nearly lost interest in Martin's work because of the obnoxious left wing bias that is rife on that forum. where name calling of others who they disagree with is standard. It made their forum look bad and by association made Martin look bad...

I hate to say this sort of thing... but I knew this was going to happen.


Trey said...

I agree that its unfortunate a particular political stance seems to be more common in REH fandom--particularly because a certain style of discourse often seems to accompany it. Being involved in an ERB amateur press association years ago, I saw a similar thing.

M. D. Jackson said...

Millions of viewers -- well, yes (although I sincerely doubt it will ever top 3 million) and very few of them will be of a literary bent whatsoever. The numbers of them who will then visit the forum -- miniscule. The number who will then have their potential appreciation of Robert E, Howard's work tainted - so absolutely tiny as to be not worth worrying about. Jason Momoa's physique will probably encourage more people to see him in Conan then any well placed words you or I or any Howard defender or detractor ever could, be they conservative, Liberal, Libertarian or none of the above.

A tempest in a teapot is too strong a term for it. Howard will be Howard, George R. Martin will be George R. Martin and that TV series based on his book will be forgotten by all but trivia buffs.

Lagomorph Rex said...

I wish I could agree with that M.D. But I've seen this happen to other things. Just recently there was a call for a complete boycott of Chick-fil-a because one franchise gave free food to a church which was against gay marriage.

It wasn't a corporate choice, it was a Franchise.. but disgruntled people online didn't care.. they blew it up to epic proportions.

I also don't think you are right about the lasting impact of the Song of ice and Fire.. it's gotten a lot of big press.. and I'm sure it will get more as it gets closer to starting.. and is the 4th link on Google when you search for " A Song of Ice and Fire" and is on the first page when you search for 'A game of thrones'

trey: unfortunately lots of places that should be places for similarities, IE, enjoying Burroughs, to shine are ruined because posters can't think to separate politics and religion from their other interests. It used to routinely ruin ever GIJOE forum.. well.. ever. and it only takes one slip up. Once the battle lines of whos on what side are known.. it changes the entire dynamic of a forum...

Brian Murphy said...

Yeah, I'd say that exploded.

Lagomorph Rex said...

Brian the thing I hate the most about this whole situation is that it was leo's and not Your essay that has gotten all the attention. And leo's only got attention because he's a conservative who has essentially just done the equivalent of shouting "Get off my lawn" at the whole fantasy blogosphere.

The thing is that right now, for whatever reason which is unfathomable to me, Abercrombie is popular.. popular enough that he just, as he himself pointed out, got a 4 book deal. And as such if you want page hits you review his books and the cycle grows and grows... Leo singled him out... and chose to use an Andrew breitbart owned website as his venue. I wouldn't doubt that this will only encourage people like Bakker and Abercrombie to do more of the stuff that Leo was complaining about.

Not only that, but hes just made it that much harder for me and you to be taken seriously. Before we were just people expressing our opinions.. now we are going to be anti-modernist reactionaries...

Taranaich said...

I can think of a couple of prominent Howard fans who aren't right-wing: Rusty Burke is centrist, for example, while the late, great Steve Tompkins was an unabashed liberal. That said, because I'm an extremely apolitical guy, I'm not really sure about the proportion of right-to-left wing politics in Howard fandom, though I won't argue with those who perceive it. Perhaps it's because I very rarely engage in politics (which, along with religion, is one of those things I just don't feel comfortable discussing in a public context).

It is extremely regrettable that Leo's politics has been used as ammunition against Robert E. Howard. I will say, however, that Howard himself was most assuredly not right-wing. In a letter, he said "I'd die before I vote Republican," for instance.

Howard is openly racist to a degree that's just shocking. Maybe that goes unnoticed in Right Wing American circles

Anyway, why switch to Abercrombie to make a point about misogyny? You were already talking about Robert Howard!

I seeth.

Lagomorph Rex said...

I oddly always sort of had REH pegged as being a Bull Moose supporter.. I imagine him and Theodore Roosevelt likely would have gotten on famously... though I'm not sure if TR read Fiction or not.. I've never been able to find out if he ever kept any sort of log of what books he read..

thinking of it, TR nearly is so larger than life he could be an REH character.. getting shot in the chest and then still giving a speech..