Grim Issues. No Jest.

by on July 2, 2010


Very sharp, is that ‘mental Shaman. I’ve just read her ponderings on the new races’ emotes which were let loose on the world this week and my general thought process was roughly: oooh deary me.

I’m not the type to wave the comic-sans’d politically correct placard, but Mental Shaman’s right: some of the current emotes for the new races are a bit dodgy.

It looks like Blizzard have put themselves in a tricksy situation. A lot of players are looking forward to jumping in to a goblin’s steel-capped boots or a Worgen’s claws (well, maybe not the claws per se). Enough players are going to goblin-ise or worgen-ise themselves that we’ll be unable to shuffle between new zones’ equivalents of unsuspecting grazing chunks of boar meat for falling over other little green and/or furry men.

So it seems obvious to me that getting the identity of these races right – and at least vaguely inoffensive – is job number 1.

Mental Shaman’s open in discussing which emotes work for her and why. She’s a jot over-sensitive on a couple of them. I mean, I personally don’t relish the use of the word “bitch” and don’t use it in reference to myself. So I’m not likely to relate with a worgen female through that emote. But I reckon that women “out there” do use that word in reference to themselves, and not in a derogatory way. More as a way to harness it. In this way, they feel they control or at least neutralise the word so that it *doesn ‘t* have the derogatory effect if someone tries to apply it to them.

But Mental Shaman does make good points and I share some of her wibbles. There’s a line, and [pullquote]occa­sion­ally little things like this pull me out of the game. Instead of fun, I feel dis­ap­point­ment.[/pullquote]Blizzard have crossed, graffiti’ed and widdled on it with the male goblin /silly: “He told me to tie her up, and do whatever I wanted to her. So I took her stereo.”

Mental Shaman’s backed down on this as folks say the line begins “she” not “you”. However, I say that line starts “he”. I’ve listened to it several times – find it here at WoW.com.

That makes this a joke about rape. Erm, what?

It’s Cataclysm beta-time and all is… not well – arghthud, goes Blizzard.

Jokes that are in any way, shape or nebulous form rape jokes, are not acceptable in a game of WoW’s nature. Whether it does or doesn’t say “he”, “you” or any incriminatory personage, the line needs to sound distinguishably innocent. Particularly since Blizzard already looped enough rope to hang themselves by including a quest in Wrath which gives the player no choice but to torture a helpless prisoner – something a fair number of people including me were very upset about.

I reckon Blizzard need to take a long look at what they’re betraying by indifferently trifling with [pullquote]I can see this is how the jokes will end up being ‘read’ by a lot of the player base[/pullquote]these issues, and they need to do it soon before the noose tightens enough to make their eyes pop.

What thinks you? These topics are so solemn that everyone’s bound to have a strong opinion on them – or are they?

Quotes direct from ‘mental Shaman’s post.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

pewter July 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Well, I do find a different between negative connotations connected to the avatar that represents a player in the virtual space, and actions necessary as part of an overall narrative arch. There has been some fuss over one major lore character being called a Bitch by another lore character – that I don't have a problem with as I feel that the language is being used by a character that is misogynistic. That's a narrative choice. What happens next, and whether the misogynistic character is then viewed as a hero is another matter.

I'd view the quest in the same light, to a certain extent – you can opt out and you won't be subjected to it by random if you want to /flirt or /silly with a friend.

As for a serious topic – this is minor on the scale of things to be annoyed about, and a lot of wow players have given a very obvious response “It's just a joke, don't be a party pooper.” I do, myself, use the word bitchy, however there is a big difference between a woman chosing to use the word (with knowledge of the subtext) in a reclaimatory manner, to a joke made by a male avatar in a game that still exists within mainstream white male geekery*. I also sometimes call people retards and that is something I feel I shouldn't do. But Context and Subtext in gender-related jokes do exist , and shutting down an offended person with 'don't be uptight' is…well..derailment.

*by this I do not mean than white males are horrible people, just that the white male view is still dominant in the development and consumption thereof.

After all, some people are offended by the emotes simply because they are rather graphic in nature. I take objection to the gender stereotyping, but I'm not going to go all emo if blizzard ignores me.

As for the rape/not rape joke, the ambiguity of the first word was a mistake on their part, Brooklyn accent or not.

Social media is a reflection of society, it is an artefact of society, and thus is deserving of critique.

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Hugh Hancock July 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I honestly don't think the first word of the rape/not rape joke is ambiguous. I've listened to it a few times – and I know Rebecca has listened to it on studio-quality headphones, although obviously the YouTube encoding kinda cancels that out – and it's pretty clearly “he”.

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pewter July 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Yeah, if it is 'he' then that part of my post will be getting expanded (although I really hate that 'rape jokes are not okay' needs to be explained) . I'm not familiar with a Brooklyn accent beyond the occasional film, and others have raised the possibility that the audio file file was clipped, or that the 'Sh' sound is extremely soft with such an accent.

I'd really rather want it to be a recording/file fail than a rape joke fail on Blizzard's part :(

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pewter July 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Yeah, if it is 'he' then that part of my post will be getting expanded (although I really hate that 'rape jokes are not okay' needs to be explained) . I'm not familiar with a Brooklyn accent beyond the occasional film, and others have raised the possibility that the audio file file was clipped, or that the 'Sh' sound is extremely soft with such an accent.

I'd really rather want it to be a recording/file fail than a rape joke fail on Blizzard's part :(

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Sharkboy007 September 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I find it kind of funny that no one has thought about this. As a friend of mine pointed out, in the bdsm community, there are men AND women who like to be tied up and willingly give themselves over to their partner to be used as they see fit. Of course, it’s all safe, sane and consensual, which is the complete opposite of rape. But viewed in that light, I can see how it’s hardly a rape joke. In any case, hearing it myself (and assuming it’s she not he, which would make sense consider he’s stealing HER stereo), it comes across as her wanting to be tied up, etc. “She said tie me up…” implies persmission. It would be rape based IF it said “She said DON”T tie me up and do anything to me, so I tied her up and stole her stereo”. There is a context in the original of giving consent. So, stop trying to find problems where none exist.

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Hugh Hancock September 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm

The difference between BDSM and horrific abuse is consent. Hence, as Rebecca says above, if the line is “he”, that’s Very Bad Indeed.

I think that we’re all men and women of the world here, and the BDSM scenario had indeed occurred to most of us. However, it only holds up if the line is “she told me…”, and as mentioned above, it sounds a lot like it isn’t.

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Chasing July 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

Well, I’m going to say first it’s probably She, and if it doesn’t sound like it, blame the voice actor. Goblins are notoriously independent and self-absorbed, so bringing a third, unnecessary person into the joke is pointless – it really doesn’t add anything, and I doubt anyone would’ve given a thumbs-up for that dialogue to be recorded in the first place.

Secondly, make jokes about rape. Make them all day. It’s happened to me, and I say as someone with experience in the matter, make the HELL out of those jokes. If it’s never happened to you, and you laugh, I’m glad you’re not worried and indignified about it, and if it has, and you laugh, then I’m glad you haven’t lost your power; you recovered and got over it.

If anyone ever made a rape joke around me, and someone was there who knew what was up and looked at me for permission to laugh, I’d facepalm. Honestly. Having people feel uncomfortable bringing something up, or as if they can’t make jokes or talk about something when I’m around, is much much worse than the jokes or the subject itself.

Laugh and be merry, guy.

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the pilatesbiz November 24, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Aron you are so cute!!! I love it!!! ))) I love how giddy you are about running!!!! Im so glad you enjoyed Boston!!! Youll be a pro when u go back in April!!! <3

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