I had a fantastic time at Blizzcon. I love the company and the games it puts out. I will likely be playing the new expansion and Diablo III. I made lots of new friends this weekend, and strengthened ties with old ones. This is why it makes me incredibly sad that I feel the need to post about the behaviour of a musical guest during the Closing Ceremonies. I could be waffling about the new talent system, or about pandas, or talking about the brilliant individuals I got to meet. I could talk about the beautiful art, the epicness that is Christie Golden, or the wonderful publishing panel. Instead I’m talking about how I got slapped in the face with the dudebro nature of Blizzcon.
Not smelling of roses
One comment, made by @mythraidates, was that Blizzcon attendees had better personal hygiene than Disney visitors. This remark is confirmed by us all. I can think of only one moment where I noticed body odour to any real extent. So bravo. We have mastered the shower as a community.
However there were a couple of moments that really soured my enjoyment. One was watching the Cosplay contest from the Panel discussion stage and having to listen to a bunch of guys seated behind our (nearly all female) group. Listening to their judgements on the various semi-naked cosplayers was not fun. Even worse was them judging the heck out of any woman who didn’t fit the ‘ideal body’ type.
And finally there was the moment when L90ETC invited a musical guest onstage. I believe he was the lead singer of a band called Cannibal Corpses, or something. Corpsegrinders? I’m not familiar with the band. He’s a hardcore hordie, and proceeded to go on an anti-Alliance rant. Which would have been fine if he hadn’t used homophobic slurs to do so.
The video above is an old clip, but it was aired un-edited during the Closing Ceremonies of Blizzcon 2011. There was no censoring/bleepouts as they aired it. I was there, I watched this clip***. It almost didn’t register at the time as I was so tired, but it stings. Now I’m aware that the band is a Death Metal band, and thus generally not known for appealing to a diverse audience. Seems a little odd to include such a guest right before one of the most popular and widely loved bands on the planets, at an event which had until that point seemed much more diverse (and welcoming thereof) than conventions generally are.
***As I am very jetlagged right now, I’m starting to second guess myself on this. Were they bleeped out? I honestly remember the homophobic terms being quite clear regardless, as I had never seen the clip before. If they were censored, then what was the point of doing it so badly when it would have been easy enough for them to edit them out entirely. However I have to make it clear that I may have mis-remembered the existence of bleeps***
I’m not offended
I’m not offended as an Alliance player if someone chooses to call us names. Although I’d call myself bifactional (where is my purple hoodie?) I’ve nearly always been mainly Alliance. I’m used to the push and pull. I’m used to bigoted language too, but I wouldn’t say I need to accept it’s presence. Free speech, such as it is, protects your right to say it, but it also protects my right to call you a a bigoted asshat for saying it.
I am bisexual. As such I get a lot of passing privilege with my sexuality. I can get down with faction hate, but I can’t do anything but condemn the use of such antiquated and homophobic slurs as part of a ‘joke’. Letting language like this go past as ‘just a joke’ is part of the problem. This same weekend a 28 year old man was murdered in Scotland, possibly burned alive in what is believed to be a homophobic attack. In my own workplace I hear homophobic slurs on a regular basis, and no matter that my co-workers would probably be okay with my sexuality, it makes me afraid to mention it. There may be other pressing matters for the QUILTBAG community, but language still plays a vital role in making environments inclusive and safe for participants.
I can pass as straight, because a lot of my relationships tend to be hetero, and language like this during an official Blizzard event leaves me cold. I can’t speak for other bisexual people, nor those at different places on the sexuality spectrum. I’m not happy about this, and I’m even less happy that this is my first post-Blizzcon post. It’s a little rambly and incoherent, but I get to blame jetlag for this.
The Blue Response
Sadly this is not the scary drink that a friend came up with, but the usual half-assed apology. Nothing from Blizzard, just a quote from L90ETC themselves. ‘It’s just a joke, sorry you were offended‘ (TW for the comments of course). I’m sure it was meant in fun, but the apology isn’t a) a true apology, and b) it isn’t even clear what they believe they did wrong. Are they sorry for insulting the Alliance, or the real issue of the language used? Will they seriously rethink what they said, or just shrug it off and hope it doesn’t happen again.
Blizzard themselves seem to be trying to pretend it never happened. This PR stuff can be hard to deal with, but historically Blizzard has lagged behind rivals Bioware in dealing with the inclusive side of the gaming community.
Alliance vs Horde rivalry and bashing? Not always great, but part of the World of Warcraft.
Homophobic, racist, ableist or misogynistic language as part of the same? Old, tired. You can be more creative than that.
If you’re not offended, or you choose to laugh it off, good for you. The rest of us will be sitting over here, being disappointed and angry.
- Blue response
- WoW Ladies Petition/Open Letter
- Kotaku (with further details about GLAAD involvement)
- GLAAD attempting to reach out to Blizzard, as covered by Gay Gamer