Tarzan books racist and sexist?
#1
Are they considered racist, sexist or ignorant?
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#2
I'm not a Tarzan expert but I do believe those books have been subjected to withering criticism for the stereotypes they utilize.
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#3
Burroughs was born in 1875 and wrote for an audience in the early 1900s.
He died in 1950.

What exactly do you expect?
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#4
Yeah, if you're looking to be offended by something, they are reflective of their era and genre. That said, as a little white child in the segregated south of the 1960's, it was almost entirely the depiction of friendly and intelligent African people in Tarzan and Daktari and H. Rider Haggard comics and episodes that made me realize that the society around me was suspect.
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#5
And probably the movies of the 1930s and 1940s contributed more to the bad stereotypes than other portions of the Tarzan franchise. I used to read the comic books when I was a kid. As I recall, they weren't filled with overt racist stereotypes. Nor have I seen any modern criticisms of them. I don't know if they are considered racist.
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#6
There is much colonialism in the books, which I would guess is a sore point these days. It probably doesn't matter that Burroughs had villains and nobles in every race to those upset by the ranking of societies.
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#7
I think ERB's books were simply part of the rising (or risen) tide and they will be critcized, perhaps even condemned, for being part of an era that is filled with shameful acts of oppression. I don't believe he supported that oppression.

John Carter freed many Martian slaves in the stories. I'm not sure that counts as a political dig at slavery by ERB - but he certainly felt it was a situation that could be villainized in his fiction.
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#8
(January 21st, 2022, 05:27 PM)august Wrote: Yeah, if you're looking to be offended by something, they are reflective of their era and genre.  That said, as a little white child in the segregated south of the 1960's, it was almost entirely the depiction of friendly and intelligent African people in Tarzan and Daktari and H. Rider Haggard comics and episodes that made me realize that the society around me was suspect.

If you read to cherry pick "offensive" material, you won't be in short supply. However, I am a big fan of Haggard's books, and find they are way more nuanced than anyone today would give them credit for. I believe Haggard was fairly progressive for his time, which may have had something to do with it. I'd have to research that more, though, so take it with a grain of salt.
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#9
People today may often mistake attitudes that were deemed progressive 70-100 years ago as backwards or racist today. You don't reduce a mountain to rubble with a single blow. You have to chip away at it generation by generation. And while some people took greater social and financial risks than others in chipping away at bigotry, many people made small contributions where they felt they could.

It's not accurate to defend a writer by merely saying, "He was a man (she was a woman) of [his/her] times." People recognized bigotry and racism for what it was 100 years ago, even 200 and 300 years ago. It's been a long, hard fight to move society away from thinking "this is normal" to "this is wrong". It's easy to criticize people who lived generations ago for not saying things as plainly and clearly as we say them today, but we have grown up in the shadows of the victories and champions who helped chip away at that mountain. They and their contemporaries had no such legacy by which to judge those who came before them.

The other day I listened to a story on NPR about the federal trial for the men who ran down and killed Ahmaud Arbery in southern Georgia. Trials like theirs would never have happened 100 years ago. The radio show's guests explained that even though many white people opposed racism and bigotry back then, they were afraid for their own lives and their families if they tried to defend or acquit unjustly accused minorities. The racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan were simply too powerful for a long time.

So I think progressive messages were sometimes more subtle than outright protests (which did happen in those times). That subtlety wouldn't be acceptable today, but back then it might have made the difference between speaking your mind and being killed or ruined by powerful local politicians.
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