Old pulp has a reputation as vulgar, trashy, lurid, and low; and in their apologetics, the proponents of new pulp are usually quite aware of that reputation.
Sometimes the apology is an outright apology
. Some proponents, for example, explicitly disavow the "racism" and "misogyny" of old pulp. Well, okay. I'm not here to hate races or women, either. But declaring against "racism" and "misogyny" is a concession to the very Stalinist conformity that has been destroying our fiction. Those words are no longer reasonable; the enemy has defined them. These days, putting a woman in a dress and saying she is not the same thing as a man is considered "misogyny." Virtue signaling is not the path to better fiction.
But generally the apology is an affirmation. It is not trying to stay in the good graces of the modern zeitgeist but simply reminding people of the excellence
to be found in old pulp; an excellence that is grounded in the pulp style.
Even so, there was
something a bit vulgar about pulp. Consider the extent to which the Good People of the time sought to suppress pulp as injurious to morals. The Good People had a point. Scantily-dressed women and salivating killers are not precisely sublime.
But two things can be said.
First, there is a sense in which some vulgarities are better than others. George Orwell, in considering the naughty postcards of Donald McGill, noted
that the cards, though obscene and (in Orwell's view) rebellious, were only funny because they presumed a stable society of indissoluble marriage, family loyalty, and the like. I myself have noted
that pulp presumes the natural order. So long as the salivating killer is the villain and is so precisely because
he is salivating and a killer, morals are not necessarily
Second, even if one were to concede that a lot of old pulp was total trash and beyond redemption, there's still a lot that wasn't. As I read it, the Pulp Revolution has never been about total reversion to the past. It idealizes
pulp. And ideals are not bad. Every revolution idealizes. A revolution is only guaranteed to be bad when its ideals despise
the past. One can embrace old pulp and still set aside the vulgarity; for it is rather the wonder and excitement that guide new pulp.