Pookies Is Not A Bear

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Theralion: A big gay joke February 10, 2011

Filed under: LGBT Issues,Raiding — Pookies @ 11:10

Last night was raid night, and our goal was to down Valiona and Theralion for the first time.
We started the night out at Throne of the Four Winds, there Conclave of Winds went down with little effort.
In transit to Bastion of Twilight, we noticed that we controlled Tol Barad, so we made a quick detour to kill Argaloth. He finally dropped some useful tier loot—my pants! Unfortunately, this piece doesn’t have haste on it (I’m still working towards that 2004 haste), but the (much) higher int makes the upgrade worthwhile.
In Bastion of Twilight, we made short work of Halfus and worked on Valiona and Theralion for about 1.5 hours before getting them down:

Finally, the night ended with Omnotron and a heavily nerfed Magmaw going down in Blackwing Descent (no complaints about the Magmaw nerf, BTW, he was just insane before).
And now for the soapbox portion of today’s post:
By now it’s no secret: Theralion is out of the closet. I guess the developers wanted to have a gay character (which is great), but they couldn’t wrap their heads around a way to do that without turning him into a walking joke (which is a bit insensitive, to put it lightly).
In beta, Theralion had a voice which could be described as, erm, just a lil’ bit campy. He has abilities such as Fabulous Flames and Dazzling Destruction, and isn’t it just hilarious that the silly gay dragon has such silly abilities? Isn’t it? Oh, by the way, he also drops a mirror, because all gays are vain and Theralion couldn’t possibly be an exception to that rule. Really, Blizzard? How about Theralion’s Lifelike Dildo?! Theralion’s Can of Crisco? Theralion’s Bottle of Poppers? No, Blizzard? Would that just be taking it too far?
Now, let me go on record as saying that I have nothing against gay men who, intentionally or not, conform to any number of gay stereotypes. I know that I sure do, and that’s just fine by me. I think that people should be whoever they want to be, from sassy queen to growling leather daddy (or from growling queen to sassy leather daddy … really, whatever floats your boat). But in a game devoid of LGBT characters, to only present gay stereotypes in a way that is clearly meant to incite ridicule is really unfair. And you are kidding yourself if you think that Blizzard put this boss in for any reason other than for the lulz.
Blizzard did end up going with the “normal,” growling dragon voice for Theralion for release. But this whole kerfuffle really brings a couple of issues to light:
1. there is a complete lack of LGBT characters in the World of Warcraft (this is whole ‘nother essay on its own, and there is a lot of reading out there for those who are interested); and
2. the only way that Blizzard can think to introduce obviously LGBT characters is by pandering to stereotypes.
I hope that, in light of the Theralion, someone at Blizzard is taking a long, hard look at LGBT character development and how LGBT characters can be introduced to the game in a respectful way.
And let me be clear about this: I love a joke as much as the next guy. Really. I love gay jokes. I joke about myself with my guild all the time. But we make light of gay stereotypes because, while we recognize the rights of gays to be incredibly vain and to talk the way they talk and to cast fabulous and dazzling abilities with jazz hands if they want to, we know that’s not how every gay person is and we accept people for the people that they are. Does your average player understand that, Blizzard? What in the hell were you hoping to achieve by sticking this walking(/flying) stereotype into your heteronormative game? To expose your player base to an LGBT character that they can relate to or to give everyone a big laugh? You are nowhere near the point that you can get away with shit like this.


3 Responses to “Theralion: A big gay joke”

  1. Keeva Says:

    Wow – I thought the video with the gay voice was a joke! It sounded like Big Gay Al in dragon form – I thought it had to be a fake voiceover. I’ve only been in there twice and have struggled against massive lag, so I was caught up in what I was doing and didn’t pay any attention to the dialogue or the ability names (just needed to stay out of the swirlies).

    I seriously thought the voice was fake.

    Though I’m sure there were some complaints, I would say that the beta voice was something that Blizz thought was a cute joke.. then quickly realised that it was a pretty stupid/unnecessary/risky thing to do, and changed it. Like the old “kill two dwarves” joke and a bunch of draenei flirts (I’m surprised the goblin ones have survived).

    I read through a bunch of the forum threads asking for it back – they can basically be summarised as “stop pandering to humourless whiners, the gay dragon was hilarious.”

    I saw a smattering of people saying that they were gay themselves and felt it was great to have a gay character in the game; but I have to wonder how many people truly felt that this was a positive symbol for the LGBT gaming community. I mean, really.

    (Bonus points for the people who are essentially saying “I’m gay and I’m not offended, if it doesn’t offend me, it’s not offensive, people who got offended should grow up.” Fair call – I’ve never heard any women say “I’m a woman” and then follow that up with a glaringly misogynist comment….rite?)

    I’ve got a great sense of humour – but I think you’re spot on when you say that if that’s the only gay character they’re going to put in the game, and make it a caricature for everyone to laugh over, then that’s pretty poor. Because I’d bet you ANY MONEY IN THE WORLD that Blizzard wouldn’t dare put in a couple of gay NPCs living together in a relationship, because they would be scared of homophobic backlash… but an over-the-top gay voice for a dragon? That’s just FREAKING HILARIOUS and nobody could possibly take offense at that, it’s just jokes.


    • Pookies Says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Keeva; I really appreciate it.

      I wait for the day that Blizzard is going to introduce the gay footman who mourns the loss of his gay lover in battle, or the lesbian troll couple who decide to adopt a horde orphan together (to name just a few possible scenarios). But until Blizzard finds a way to make it queer and keep it classy …

    • Pookies Says:

      Also, thanks for pointing out the gay people who are saying, “I’m gay, and I’m okay with this.” Just because some choose to play in environments where homophobia is tolerated and have somehow come to terms with it does not mean that the rest of us do not have a right to get upset. Reading those comments was definitely unnerving … but not all that surprising.

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