Posted by: Jess Riley | September 22, 2008

Theme Week Blood Elves: Stereotypes Part 2

I was giving some more thought to the different kinds of stereotypes that blood elves fit, and you know, I couldn’t actually think of all that many. If you have any others in mind, you can contact Blogatelle at blogatelle@gmail.com, and he’ll be sure to abuse me for not thinking of them myself pass the message on.

In the interim, however, here’s one or two more that I did think of.

3. Arrogant snobs. Now, to be fair, I do this one myself, and I’m not actually all that sure where this one comes from. It seems to be partly coming from the parts of the lore that present the blood elves as upperclass or noble, and partly from the notion of the blood elves as the only ‘pretty’ people in a faction of ‘ugly’ people. There is a fair bit of canon support for blood elves as, by and large, fairly arrogant and snobby people, but this again ties into the point that I made about the appearance of femininity or homosexuality amongst male blood elves; while certainly, blood elf culture seems to idealise or encourage those who act in a ‘snobbish’ manner, this does not mean that every blood elf is going to act in this way. There’s a lot of room for individual differences, even when it comes to traits that are genuinely quite common amongst a certain race.

Furthermore, there’s the matter of how they come across as being snobby; is it across race divides, where even those who are clearly the lowest parts of blood elf society are somehow better than the other races that call themselves part of the Horde, or is it across something approaching class divides, where the less fortunate blood elves are just as bad as the equally poorly off trolls and orcs, while well-off orcs and trolls are just as good as well-off elves? Well, it’s hard to say, and I imagine that it would be somewhat different from elf to elf. Most often, I see this played across race divides, where most elves who show signs of being particularly snobbish back it up with racism, that any elf is better than any orc, and so on. This is probably quite valid, given the relationship between the elves and the other members of the Horde, but I think it would be quite interesting to see it played more for class issues once in a while. (How you would determine class barriers on World of Warcraft would be an interesting concept in and of itself – remind me that I want to do a post on this, sometime!)

4. Valley girls. Of course, I know exactly where this one comes from; the female blood elves have a number of /silly emotes that give the impression of them as a lot of giggling schoolgirls gossiping about their classmates. In a way, it ties into the idea of the blood elves as arrogant snobs, but with one crucial difference; this is that stereotype stripped of refinement and elegance, and left with something that looks to the outside like a cross between a teen film and white trash.Well, that’s not quite true; this stereotype has a number of forms, and they really do run the full spectrum from what seems to be a character who just stepped off the set of Mean Girls and a character who just stepped off, well, a trailer. Typically, this idea shows the same snobbishness and occasional racism that the typical arrogant snob does, but through carelessness, lack of finesse (aka, the teen film variant), or careful design (closer to the white trash variance), there’s not the same elegance or style that the more upperclass variant shows. Like most things, this can be done well or poorly – a blood elf that styles herself as haughty, but prostitutes herself out to Forsaken mages for magic hits and yet doesn’t actually see any irony in this situation can be a very well-designed character from the right perspective. On the other hand, something that shoots for ‘conceited’ and hits ‘catty’ on the way by accident probably isn’t such a good design.

Essentially, the same things apply as above; conceit and ego are big parts of the blood elf culture, and casual racism and classism do make a lot of sense. However, not everyone is going to be like this, and taking these same stereotypes and playing them in a bit of a different way can be an asset to a scene.

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