So there was some chatter in the blogosphere over the last couple weeks about women or feminism in WoW. No real comment on that issue, but on reading some of the posts, I had a random thought:
What if Garrosh was female?
Would Garrosha still be presented in the same fashion that Garrosh is, as a hot-headed warmonger? What would the player-base's reaction to a female character who displayed the same traits as Garrosh does?
I actually started thinking about this while playing the Starcraft II storyline. There is only one female character1: Dr. Ariel Hanson. The thing is that there is nothing wrong with Dr. Hanson. She's smart, educated, kind, a leader for her colonists. She is entirely unobjectionable. She is also completely uninteresting. For all of Tychus Findlay's flaws, he was a far more intriguing character.
You kind of see the same thing with female Warcraft NPCs. The only interesting (non-villain) female character is Sylvannas Windrunner. The other ones, Jaina, Tyrande, Liadrin etc., all tend to fall into this unobjectionable category. They're all competent, powerful, smart, non-sterotypical2 characters.
The female villains are interesting. Lady Prestor had style, and I really liked the portrayal of High General Abbendis of the Scarlet Onslaught, as revealed through her diaries3. But this doesn't seem to extend to female heroes.
Varian and Garrosh are at least unique characters, even if they are--or perhaps because they are--terribly flawed. They generate debate and passion. But it seems very unlikely that Blizzard would make a female NPC like those two.
I wonder if that's a defensive reaction. To keep people from objecting to their portrayal of female characters, they make those female characters unobjectional. It's just too bad that this process seems to make them uninteresting as well.
1. Discounting Kerrigan/Queen of Blades as she is a villain.
2. At least, they don't match the sterotypes of previous generations. Whether this in itself is a stereotype of our current generation, I leave as an exercise for the reader.
3. [The Path of Redemption], [The Diary of High General Abbendis]