In ‘Lovecraft Territory’, the characters African Americans are the heroes and the whites are the bad guys. What’s more, the more Aryan-like appearance the latter have, the greater the possibility that they are real bastards. The new series of HBO is a homage to pulp fantasy and horror literature, and especially to the figure of the writer HP Lovecraft, although purifying all the racial prejudices that were hidden behind his words. People of color would never have starred in these stories. The series is set in the 50s, a time when it was still normal that black people were not allowed to board the bus or enter white bars and the Ku Klux Klan acted with total impunity.
When it seemed that the story had already been exhausted in the second episode, it turns out that the series has had ability to continue surprising week to week. Throughout the five chapters seen so far, as soon as its protagonists find a chase through the woods fleeing from monsters and a trigger-happy racist police, as if trapped by members of a secret society, solving the mystery of a haunted house, or living adventures in the purest Indiana Jones in search of a lost relic. This week we have been delighted with a chapter on a elixir that allows the one who takes it to become someone else.
If in ‘Castle Rock’ the JJ Abrams factory transferred Stephen King’s literary universe to a television series, ‘Lovecraft Territory’ does the same in Lovecraft’s literary legacy, which after all is another of the great horror writers of American literature. The Stephen King series had less impact and repercussion than expected. In part, because there is no year that does not movie theater or to the television one of his novels. In the case of Lovecraft it is something much rarer, since her stories have been gaining fame as unadaptable. But the biggest problem is that their stories also give off a certain supremacist and racist stink.
The series is based on a novel by Matt Ruff and gives a twist to Lovecraft’s mythological background, using his literary findings to tell us a horror story about racism in America. For this, Abrams has relied for the production on another of the directors specialized in terror with racial overtones, Jordan Peele and showrunner Misha Green.
A new mythology
Lovecraft died in 1937 at the age of 46 in poverty but left behind a literary legacy that transformed the horror genre. The writer created a whole new mythology that ranged from the alien invasions, parallel dimensions and creatures born in the years of the first civilizations that still continue to lurk in unknown lands. The first minutes of the pilot episode of ‘Lovecraft Territory’ already puts the elements of its literary universe in your vein. And especially in Cthulhu, a cosmic entity with tentacles, which remains submerged in an underwater city waiting for the moment to conquer everything.
The big problem with bringing Lovecraft’s literary legacy to the screen today is that behind all this background there was a certain racist pose. The hero was always the white man, while what he considered to be the “unclean races“They were easily manipulated servants at the service of those cosmic entities that sought world domination. As for women, let’s say that none of their stories would pass the Bechdel test and the presence of the female gender in the plot is almost less than anecdotal.
In “Lovecraft Territory” the most backward ideas of this literary universe are turned around, being used precisely to denounce the hidden racism that has always existed in the history of the United States. The series comes at the most opportune moment, while America is still agitated by the protests of the Black Lives Matter.
The series’ pilot episode opens like a road movie with Atticus Turner (Jonathan Majors), a veteran of color in the Korean War, who embarks on a journey to the heart of New England to search for his missing father. He is accompanied in this adventure by his uncle George (Cournet B. Vance) and his childhood friend, Letitia (Jurnee SmolletBell), a woman of arms who makes the saying that girls are warriors her own. We are quite the opposite of the submissive role of women in Lovecraft’s stories. Your adventures will immerse you in some of the territories where hatred of black is a way of life and there is carte blanche to shoot them at sunset. They not only have to dodge the blond boys with the badge and the gun, but also the bloodthirsty monsters that stalk them.
It is a journey into the heart of ‘Lovecraft Territory’. Of the protagonists, it must be said that they are not submissive people and that they are always lamenting about their situation, but that they are bold and always ready to rebel in the face of injustices. Will we see the black power defeat Cthulhu in the last episode?