tisdag 27 februari 2018

Beware of Magic: the Gathering, part II

Last weekend I played in the fourth annual Arvika Festival. It was a glorious gathering, and a report is on its way. Hopefully one from the winner, alongside some rants about my own foray with The Deck. But today I'd like to quickly first step out and look at surprisingly strange, and perhaps unsettling, trivia from the mid 90s. Tinfoil hats on.

A few years ago, I wrote a short post about the backlash towards Magic by religious groups that deemed the game blasphemous. Beware of Magic the Gathering. 25 years ago, that was kind of a big deal; iconoclasm and heresy were far more frowned upon just a quarter of a century ago. These days most of us find a card like Lich fairly harmless.
Someone at Wizards finds the casual satanism in this card hilarious enough to give it Multiverse ID 666. There's an Easter Egg for you. http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=666
Now, being the heathens that we are, WotC and the great majority of players aren't bothered if we have demons in the game. Demons aren't real, we argue, and there are real issues in the world that need attention. Sexism is real, racism is real, hatred is real. I am very grateful that WotC actively tries to work with representation these days. That there is a gay couple fronting a Commander deck, that a black female planeswalker kills King Brago in Conspiracy II, and that one of the Khans of Tarkir are championed by a transgender woman. That one of the current standard blocks focus on an Indian woman and her biracial daughter. It actually fills me with a sense of community as a player.

Most of us look back at a card like Earthbind and are content that those tropes are mostly a thing of the past. We're glad that Wizards never did characters with blackface in Mirage, painted the Icatian Moneychanger overtly Jewish, or used a nazi artist in the mid 90s and then kept referencing white supremacy on the mothership. So about that...

This post might be NSFW. Let me introduce you to the art of Harold McNeil:
"Society, is a sheeple thing... individuals have their own paradigms, where sheep either follow or get eaten... an individual may see a modern oppression of the freedom to acknowledge that women go to perverse ruin unless disciplined, and that diversity in races means equality is absurd..."
"I knew a kind of Fascism was inevitable, & resonated with aspects from birth, but was also determined to see it never lack Empathy... for that is how the weak, pretend to be strong, by a Talmudic narrowing of Empathy... it is hard to be whole, it is wrong to be less... blinking Unpeople, make things worse... Love is Will, Truth is Honor..."
"Indiscriminate Inclusivity, is a prostitute's motto... Open Borders, as if legs of a whore..."
I wont link to his homepage here, as it is beyond most comfort zones. But after looking at it, we can with no doubt deduce that he is a fairly skilled iconographer and a no holds barred white supremacist. He also likes cats. And butts. The quotes under the pictures are from his facebook page btw, and all of them from the last month. This Hitler Jesus thing wasn't a phase that ended twenty years ago.

Harold McNeil worked with Wizards in the 90s. He doesn't anymore, but in those few years his art made a solid impact. Much like artists such as Drew Tucker and Richard Kane Ferguson, a Harold McNeil piece is easily identifiable at a glance. Without going too deep into art critique and Leni Riefenstahl, his artwork even with Wizards throw some sublime punches.
And once I started to learn about the artist behind the art, it is hard to look at this without imagining wolfsangels.
At this point I don't know if it is ironic or just plain weird that he also got to do cards like Circle of Protection: Black in Tempest.
But OK, lets say that the world was a different place a couple of decades ago, and what today is something WotC wouldn't want to associate with using a pole were things we as a group were more blind to in the mid 90s. These days, one could in good conscience suspect that Wizards would put their work with Harold McNeil behind them. So let me introduce the aptly named Invoke Prejudice.
Here's a bunch of guys in KKK hoodies on a card with the flavor of introducing racial divide. And yeah, it kinda looks like the front guy's robe folded into an odal rune on his shoulder. I have no idea how the design process for his card was done; it is a very odd spell and is the only card in the game with an UUUU mana cost. Also it is named Invoke Prejudice. And of course Harold McNeil is the artist.

This card is a strange part of Magic's history. One could suspect that WotC would try to put this behind them, or maybe not keep assuring that it references white supremacy. Or at the very least not jokingly insert a neo nazi reference in Gatherer search today. Well, they certainly did. Invoke Prejudice has Multiverse ID 1488. Because of course it has. http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=1488. So there you have some unsettling old school trivia from the days when Magic was seen as an unhealthy influence because of the demons, and to say the least a baffling easter egg to still keep on the mothership.

6 kommentarer:

  1. Also strange that the ID of Invoke is 1488...

  2. Thanks for the read Mg. ‘Twas a dark tale but I dove in and enjoyed the discoveries beneath the dark surface. It makes me think a bit more now when I look at the art of Sylvan Library. I’m thinking that among the three knowledge seekers before the library the Southern Paladin is not one of them, or if he is he is about to have a bad time - perhaps 4 lives worth.

    There is an entertaining comment left by someone on the Gatherer page of Invoke Prejudice too.

    These last couple posts of yours are hella entertaining, but dude it also makes me keep wanting to build more decks. I mean, I already live outta my car. What else am I going to have to give up to stay in the ether??

    Marty S.

  3. Sweet albeit a bit scarry info. Can we hope for a Robert Bliss piece next? A bit to modern perhaps...

  4. @Jonas: Yeah, Robert Bliss could certainly be a topic as well in the category "wtf Magic art". But as you say, it is probably a little too new for this blog. I find this article about Ekundu Cyclops from 2002 entertaining if you missed it btw: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/3175_The_Daily_Shot_Extendeds_Biggest_Fallacy.html

    @Marty: Thanks! I've found these posts entertaining to write, a little back to form of sorts ;) But I really feel you with the urge to brew decks. There are far more things I want to build right now than I can reasonably afford. And it will probably be even worse in a few weeks when we start to look at decks from The Wizards Tournament :P

  5. Mg: sweet read! The Cyclops is a bit to easy to spot but the other cards Mr Bliss made are more subtle, like Polymorph.

  6. Re: Kaladesh, Pia Nalaar, Amonkhet, etc: I have noticed one or two people complaining about the lack of "traditional" fantasy in Magic's recent settings, which I honestly find a little bizarre. In the first place, Conan - without whom there would be no Dungeons and Dragons and thus no Magic - visited Afghanistan and India (and also met an alien from space in "Tower of the Elephant", which partially undermines the complaints about "you got sci-fi in my fantasy").

    And second of all, it took Magic 19 (nineteen!) years to do a Greek mythology-themed expansion, and I'm still waiting for proper Arthur- and viking-themed sets! "Traditional" my foot. ;)