Episode #11 – “Dismantling Jaina”

Episode #11 – “Dismantling Jaina”

Sep 17

Our eleventh episode features Tzufit and Apple Cider discussing Patch 5.4’s features, but most notably community reaction of Jaina. We deconstruct and re-frame the narrative surrounding this famous NPC’s sudden shift in personality.


Spoilers for the Patch 5.4 ending raid cinematic start at 28:43.

Below the cut is a full transcript of Episode 11, “Dismantling Jaina.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Hey everybody.  Welcome once again to Justice Points, episode 11.  Today we are actually going to be discussing the newest patch.  Patch 5.4 came out this week.  We’re super stoked.  A lot of cool, cool, awesome stuff.  We’re looking at a lot of things today – don’t think that this is going to be your typical patch 5.4 rundown episode.  We do not do things so neatly here on Justice Points.  We do not.

Tzufit:  That’s right.  Just because we’re being topical and timely doesn’t mean that it’s not still us.

Apple Cider Mage:  We’re going to ask the real hard questions.  We’re going to get real critical today about all things 5.4.  First, what is on our minds right now?  How have you been liking the patch so far, Tzufit?

Tzufit:  I have enjoyed what I’ve seen so far.  I have spent a little bit of time on the Timeless Isle, I think not as much as a lot of people have.  I’ve been doing normal mode raiding so far.  I have not gotten a chance to experience Flex yet, but I’m very excited about doing that this weekend with my guild.  I did appreciate that after like 30 minutes on the Timeless Isle I had enough gear to get my second monk, who had just hit 90, into the Throne of Thunder LFR on either of her specs.  So thanks very much for that.  Yeah, so I’m definitely having fun so far.  It was really an emotional shock to log in at the Shrine and come out into the Vale and see just how destroyed everything was and hear the tear-jerker music and all of that.  I think it was really impactfully done and very emotional.  I think it was really effective.

Apple Cider Mage:  When I first logged in, which was so overwhelming because they brought servers up super early, I was not expecting it at all.  It was really stable.  The Vale was just – yeah, it really blew my mind.  I flew around for a couple of minutes just kind of in shock because I hadn’t done any PTR stuff at all.  So, needless to say-

Tzufit:  Right, neither had I.  I mean I knew, obviously, that that was going to happen, but seeing it and especially experiencing it right as you log in like that was very, very surprising.

Apple Cider Mage:  Now here’s the thing.  It might have changed and they destroyed one of my favorite-looking zone’s aesthetics, the thing is I actually like the zone more now because most of the areas were just dedicated toward the Golden Lotus dailies.  I hated them and the fact that most of those mobs are gone and it’s been replaced by easy to pick off rare mobs now is a lot more fun for me, I guess.  It’s very much keeping in the style of how Timeless Isle is now, which again, also I’m enjoying.  I’ve spent a lot more time on Timeless Isle than I think you have, Tzufit.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  Speaking of rare mobs, that is one of my favorite little quality of life additions they put in with this patch.  It’s a skull icon, but slightly different than our normal skull icon, that shows up on the mini map when there’s a rare around you, which is super helpful.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, absolutely.  It’s really crucial considering the fact that so many rares are now present in the Vale.  There are so many new rares on the island in the Timeless Isle.  It’s essential.  It’s an essential UI addition, so I’m actually really happy that they did that.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  Another big addition, obviously, is the Timeless Isle.  So let’s go into that a little bit.  Like I said, I know I haven’t spent as much time there as you have.  I love seeing the 4 celestials out there in the arena.  They’re some of my favorite characters from Pandaria, so I’m very excited that we get a little bit more interaction and a little more lore with them.  I’m also looking forward, someday in the probably fairly distant future, to attempting to get them as non-combat pets, which is a ways off for me because I am really not the best pet battler in the world.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I have really liked Timeless Isle as somebody who is an explorer and a mystery lover and everything like that.  The first day that the Timeless Isle came out, I just rode right down there and kind of worked on the quest because the quests are pretty important for gaining Timeless Coins, but I really just didn’t pick anything in particular to do.  I literally just kind of went where I felt like going at that particular moment and that made the difference for me.  I haven’t been able to do that kind of unstructured play in World of Warcraft for quite a lot of time.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and I like the way that it works out much better than the last experiment with this, which was of course Battlefield Barrens.  I think they were going for that very free explorational feel there, but it just didn’t quite work out and I think some of that, too, is just because the area that you had to cover for Battlefield Barrens was huge compared to Timeless Isle.  Timeless Isle is actually a fairly small space when you think about it.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s a fairly small space and yet I feel like the designers were kind of really on top of their game because they make it feel a lot bigger than it actually is just due to the fact that they use vertical space a lot more intelligently than horizontal space, actually.

Tzufit:  Yes, and speaking of that vertical space, you probably have had quite a bit of fun with the platforming over there because it is – for people who have never played a gnome, there are some downsides to playing a gnome, like running through an inch of water and all of a sudden you’re swimming, for example.  But one of the upsides to being a gnome is that pretty much anything platforming-related you can completely cheese.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah.  The ship and trying to get the bag that’s hanging at the end of the mast?  Yeah, I completely can just walk straight up the rope.  It was easy.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  So for those of you who haven’t tried this yet, for most players you need to go up to the area where like the captain would normally be and then you would walk up the rope on the right-hand side, and then you have to come all the way across the ship horizontally to get to the treasure that’s at the end.  For gnomes, all they have to do is walk down the rope on the left-hand side, and where other races would be blocked because there’s a crossbeam that would stop you from going forward, gnomes just walk right under it.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, not even a problem.  It’s funny because I didn’t even realize that until I tried to do it on my night elf and realized it was definitely a height thing.  I feel like they really put in a lot of work between Battlefield Barrens and Timeless Isle.  Battlefield Barrens was a strategic resource gathering event.  It was across a huge zone.  This zone is very planned and despite the fact that it’s not a daily hub – I mean there are a couple dailies, but it’s mostly unstructured.  I feel that it’s really clever and it’s really inventive and it’s really for people to feel kind of rewarded after so much that has gone on with the story and the PvE content this expansion.  Around every turn, there’s always something new.  There’s always a little item or the fact that epics rain from the heavens or the fact that everything drops coins including skinning and mining and herbing, the fact that there’s tons of rares.  It’s like they squished all the actual good stuff about the Isle of Thunder and they made it better because there’s no dailies to go through.  I don’t like dailies.  I hate dailies.  So the fact that I can go to Timeless Isle and grind out all of my lesser charms in half an hour just picking off some mobs or killing some rares or picking flowers?  Sign me up.  Sign me up.

Tzufit:  I think thematically I also appreciate that Timeless Isle – there’s some mystery going on.  There’s some intrigue.  Chromie’s involved, which is always an A+ in my book.  Timeless Isle is a much lighter, happier side of the story, which I think is kind of important given how heavy and dark everything is on the other half of the content that was introduced this patch, with everything that’s going on in the raid instance.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It definitely feels like this is the golden egg of the fairly overwhelming, depressing content that we face in the actual raid instance and the destruction of the Vale and stuff like that.  Timeless Isle feels like the ending to an afterschool special because when you go to the arena, there is literally every NPC you’ve ever come across in Pandaria.

Tzufit:  Yes.  It’s so much fun to just run around the arena and be like, “Hey Chen!  Hey Gina!”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It was a little bit more poignant since we did the developer interview with Helen Cheng.  It was really poignant to see a lot of the people that we’ve been missing most of the expansion by going off and being heroic and doing battle elsewhere.  I was a little sad, because obviously there’s some people, some familiar faces that will not be joining us at the Celestial Arena.  I’m kind of sad that the Timeless Isle is not the afterlife, because I honestly feel that Suna Silentstrike should have been there with all of her friends and all of her Shado-Pan.  Everybody else is there for the most part.

Tzufit:  It’s also a little bittersweet because I would imagine, just based on the way Warcraft has worked in the past, that this is a bit of a fond farewell to those characters that really were a major part of the story, or a major part of our experience in Pandaria, because I think chances are pretty good that they’re not going to play a very major part in whatever the next expansion is.  I will be very, very sad to see them go.  I’ve said on Twitter a few times recently, people are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming out of Pandaria on to the next expansion.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, exactly.  Pandaria was such a well-crafted expansion, so aesthetically well done, so pitch perfect and just really cohesive that they’re going to have to do a lot of work to top themselves, frankly.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  They’re going to have to do a lot of work to create another world that I want to spend time in, because all I want to do is spend time in Pandaria.  Ok, so other major points from 5.4.  I know both of us have experimented a little bit with Proving Grounds.  How have you found those so far, Apple Cider?

Apple Cider Mage:  Interesting because I’m a DPS and I heard that the DPS have a very different experience from tanks or healers, because tanks and healers I think you guys actually do it with a group of NPCs, right?

Tzufit:  Yes we do, which I really like because they have some great flavor text that happens.  There’s one, for example – on one of the healer challenges there’s a debuff that you have to dispell because if you don’t it’ll blow up and deal AoE damage to anybody who’s standing near that person who had it on them.  The first time I went through Silver, I was not anticipating that it was going to be significantly rougher than Bronze was, so I was more or less out of mana by that point toward the end when the debuff starts going off.  It went onto the NPC mage in the group.  For the healer challenge, you have a warrior tank, and then a rogue, hunter, and a mage.  So the debuff went on the mage.  I didn’t have enough mana to dispell her.  She blew up and she injured the hunter who was standing near her.  Fortunately they didn’t actually die or go down to 1 health because then you lose the challenge.  But when she blew up, she goes, “You didn’t dispell me in time and everybody took damage!”  And then the rogue yells, “Oh, be nice.  She’s trying!”  So it’s just some very cute flavor text going on with the groups.  I haven’t had a chance to do the tanking one yet, but I know that more or less the same group is with you and they have some similar reactions.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It feels very lonely so far.  I got past Bronze, which was criminally easy.  I’m working on Silver at the moment because I had pretty limited time today to do it.  The whole thing, I think, is a combination of actually teaching you to use your skills or testing you on your skills, but I feel like there’s some mechanics for DPS because they have to kind of spice it up because we don’t work in a group scenario as a DPS.  They added some really interesting mechanics that I don’t quite understand what they’re exactly attempting to prove your skill in other than maybe teaching more DPS to take on specialized advisor roles.  So far, I encountered the klaxxi mob that you get that casts a bubble of amber that you have to direct toward mobs to freeze them in a shell of amber, and then they take extra damage.  So it’s obviously a way to boost your DPS on multiple targets in the challenge.  But that’s not something that you do as a DPS.  You have the thing follow you and you have to land it in the right spot, but how is that testing your DPS?  It feels like it’s training people to take on specialized roles, maybe in a raid, perhaps?

Tzufit:  Yeah.  Just the way you describe it, that sounds vaguely reminiscent to me of the way you have to handle the adds on the Empress fight, where you have to sort of make the pools – you combine the 3 amber together and then you drag them over and they get in the trap and all that.  So I guess maybe it’s sort of – I think most raid groups tend to have those 1 or 2 or if you’re super lucky maybe 3 DPS who you can really look to and go, “Ok, you’re kicking shells on Tortos.”   You know?  Or something like that.

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s me.

Tzufit:  So from that standpoint, I think, if that actually is effective in teaching people those kind of things, it could be helpful because I would certainly love to have more people who are capable of doing that stuff in a raid group.

Apple Cider Mage:  I haven’t gotten too far and I keep failing on Silver, so far on like the third wave.  So I have to step up my game a little bit more before I can actually kind of accurately report on what I’m doing.  But so far the Proving Grounds actually looks like it’s a really good tool in a solo way.  Not necessarily for people that like to solo – I think it’s more instructive than achievement-oriented like Brawler’s guild, although it takes out the whole spectator element of Brawler’s Guild, which I really don’t like.

Tzufit:  Brawler’s Guild – I like the spectator aspect of it when my friends are the spectators.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, exactly.

Tzufit:  So I think a lot of people, especially maybe newer players or players who are really looking to get into more endgame PvE content, whether that’s heroic dungeons or raiding, I think they will probably appreciate having a private space where they can really hash out those abilities and learn how those things work, because for the most part – I know for the healing challenge – that felt about like what it felt like to heal a heroic dungeon in 463 blues.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It’s interesting to see how many different classes will have problems with some of the stats, because as a fire mage, a lot of my AoE DPS is based on my crit – how much Living Bomb explodes for or how hard Nether Tempest hits for, or Flamestrike, or getting Pyroblast! procs off Hot Streaks and stuff like that.  It’s really dependent on crit.  So I’m dropping from 40% crit overall to 28% and that’s a huge difference.  Again, it’s definitely like a Challenge Mode, but on the other hand it’s just me.  So it is going to take some finagling to get used to.  We’ve talked a bit about the PvE content you can do solo, but I actually – like we said before, we got to try out both Flex and normal mode this week, at least I did.  I actually am really liking Flex.  I’m liking Flex for a lot of reasons because I am in a casual/social guild.  We don’t do a lot of serious raiding.  I mean we do, but it’s not super hardcore progression.  This was the first week that we have ever, as a raid team, stepped into a raid instance the week that it came out.  Not only that, we beat a boss.  We got Immerseus down in the first night that we stepped into the Siege of Orgrimmar raid.  That’s a big deal for a scrawny little 10 man that is used to going in after stuff’s nerfed and that sort of thing.  We had a great time.  I want to say that that’s directly due to the fact that we got to do Flex earlier in the week.  Flex feels like a really good difficulty for a lot of different kinds of people and for us in particular, it was a really good way to practice the mechanics as they occur in normal, but maybe with some of the numbers tuned down.  I really felt in a lot of ways that LFR didn’t teach us anything other than maybe the basic flow of the fight.  But Flex had all of the abilities in the way that you’re supposed to handle them for the most part, but just with kind of a little bit more forgiveness.  It made a world of difference because it meant that we were walking into a fight that we already knew of the mechanics, we just had to kind of pay attention to the specifics.  We could play around a lot more with making sure that we were getting our positioning down correctly, making sure that the people on certain jobs were doing them correctly.  It felt a lot smoother and the fact that Flex means you can invite whoever you want and not involve yourself with random people means you can coordinate a lot better.  So it being slightly more difficult than LFR is a misnomer in that it doesn’t really feel more difficult than LFR just due to the fact that you can actually coordinate people and you’re not dealing with a lot of random variables.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  It may actually end up being easier than LFR in the long run because of that.  Not that the mechanics are easier or not that the numbers are more forgiving than LFR numbers, but it’s just easier when you have people that you can coordinate like that.  I’m looking forward to it.  My guild is going to run in another day or two and I have about 18 people signed up on our guild forum to go, which is fantastic.  We haven’t done a 25 person raid since I guess Dragon Soul.  I remember we did get Deathwing down on 25 in Dragon Soul and then that was kind of it because 25 raiding is pretty intense in terms of the organization and there’s not a lot of room for being able to “carry” people who are maybe a little further behind in gear or skill level.  I think that Flex is going to allow us that flexibility that we need to be able to bring along as many people as possible.  I’m also definitely looking forward to being able to use it to help us prepare better for the 10 person raid that I’m in.  We did the first 2 fights so far and spent last night working on Norushen.  I think we have quite a bit of a DPS deficit to make up before we complete that encounter, but I’m really excited to do it on Flex and maybe see beyond that as well because I think it’s always invaluable to have that experience of seeing the fight before you do it on normal mode.

Apple Cider Mage:  I really like the idea that this – granted, super late in the expansion, but I have a feeling that Flex is going to carry over, much like LFR, into any new expansions or new content that we do.  It opens up alt raiding again, which really makes me happy.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and it opens up alt raiding in a way that doesn’t force you to go into LFR if LFR isn’t something that you enjoy.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, exactly.  I feel like if one of my friends, especially with Timeless Isle now dropping 496 gear out of the sky, if one of my friends is like, “Oh, we’re just going throw a Flex together, just like 10-11 people.  Do you want to come on your healer or your tank or one of your DPS that isn’t your main,” I can be like, “Yeah, sure.  No problem.”  This entire expansion I’ve felt that they have not really had an emphasis on alts in quite the same way that Cataclysm felt like an emphasis on alts.  So the fact that we’re getting a little bit of that back at the backend of the expansion is a lot of fun.  WoW feels fun again, which is nice.

Tzufit:  So not unexpectedly, because there is all kinds of upheaval in Orgrimmar right now, lots of displacement has happened with the characters who used to live in Orgrimmar who have temporarily been evicted thanks to Garrosh and all his evil-doings that are happening there.  So one of the side effects of this that’s been brought up on Twitter and on the forums, and kind of was talked about quite a bit around the middle of the week, was that we have all of these orc refuges who are filing in to the inn in Razor Hill.  Unfortunately, that came with the pretty bad choice on the developers’ part of inserting some really gross dialogue into what these refuge orcs are saying.  So Apple Cider, you made a blog post about this a few days ago.  Why don’t you explain to us exactly what was going on there?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  Basically it kind of came across my desk as it were from Lhivera, who is a MVP on the forums and is also a mage theorycrafter.  There was a forum thread by actually somebody on my realm who I recognized saying that if you go to Razor Hill Inn, there’s a whole new sort of story thing that’s going on there.  The trolls have finally taken over and it’s Vol’jin and Baine Bloodhoof standing in the middle of town with their troops, talking about how they’re going to take over Orgrimmar.  It’s pretty cut and dry.  What the person on the forums had noticed is that if you actually go into the Razor Hill Inn, it’s got a couple of refuges.  Obviously you can’t pack a ton of them in there because it’s a small inn, but imagine if you will that there were a ton of refuges there.  There are 2 orc refuges called “Orgrimmar Refuges” that all that they do is gesture at one another and the only thing that they say is, “Oh, look at her over there!  She’s beautiful!  A perfect 10.”  The other one says, “A 10?  Hah.  Maybe in Razor Hill.  In Orgrimmar, she’d only be a 6.”  Now the woman in question is an orc refuge over at the other table in the inn.  So if you think about it from a story perspective, this is a woman who has been displaced from her home in Orgrimmar, only to come to the Razor Hill Inn and be subjected to a fucking hotness rank from 2 other refuges.  That is disgusting.  I mean, think about it.  Who approved this?  Who said that this was a great idea and that this was the kind of joke that we needed to just kind of have sitting in the corner from some no-name NPCs?  They were put in in 5.4.  These are not refuges or NPCs that have been there for a while – like Cataclysm or something.  No.  This is as of this week, they were put in there.  I was appalled and so was the person that made the forum post.  Now unfortunately, the forum post when out to 10 pages and got deleted because there was trolling and flaming, and you know how those things go with anything that might seem slightly feminist.  But there were quite a few interesting blog posts, one from a blog called Misanthropy 101.  There was also a blog post by a lady who goes by @EmberDion.  Her blog post was actually talking about being ranked and street harassed by men at her college and how upsetting this was.  All of these people were actually pretty upset and it sort of took place in the morning, but by afternoon there had been enough pressure that CM Zarhym actually responded to the criticism on Twitter and said that this was an oversight and that they were going to hotfix it immediately.

Tzufit:  And fortunately, that’s exactly what happened.  So that same day, by the afternoon, they had applied a hotfix that removed that dialogue from the game.  Now interestingly enough, that’s not a documented hotfix that made it into the list that we get at the end of every day, but it is now gone from the game.  That is certainly the upside in this situation, that Blizzard very quickly recognized the problem and took care of it.  But unfortunately, the fact that that dialogue even made it into the game, as Apple Cider said, the fact that surely somebody else read that besides just the person who wrote the dialogue and decided to implement it.  I can’t imagine that anything just gets implemented without at least a second person reading it.  The fact that it made it in at this stage in the game is really disheartening and it’s certainly a tribute to how far we still have to go.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  The fact that they also erased all mentions of it outside of people’s blog posts is also really startling.  The forum thread is gone.  It wasn’t noted in hotfixes and if Zarhym had never said anything on Twitter, we wouldn’t have known.  It’s really weird.  I still think it says to me that Blizzard has a considerable kind of dudebro culture in some of its developers, which is really sad.

Tzufit:  Right, exactly.  From there, we can get into the major story of the week and certainly the major story that concerned us, which goes to the culture of community surrounding World of Warcraft itself and the way that we talk about and we react to the actions of certain characters in-game.  So, going forward we are absolutely going to be discussing spoilers about the final cinematic that happens after you kill Garrosh.  So if you don’t want to spoil that cinematic for yourself, please step away now.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  Turn off your podcast.  It’s going to be all spoilers from here.

Tzufit:  So, hopefully now the only people remaining are those who have already seen the cinematic.  So let’s get down to business.  Apparently, the word around the community is that Jaina is really angry.

Apple Cider Mage:  And evil, potentially.

Tzufit:  Yeah and the next big villain or something.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  Let’s just briefly go over what happened here in the cinematic itself.  So we defeat Garrosh Hellscream.  Thrall, with his big ol’ thunder-hammer in hand is ready to bring said thunder-hammer down on Garrosh’s face, at which point we see a sword slide into frame there and guess what?  It’s King Wrynn, coming to the rescue to say, “Oh no.  Oh no, Thrall.  Not yet.  We have to bring him to justice and it’s not just up to you what happens to him,” and so on and so forth.  At which point Taran Zhu steps in and says, “We have suffered the most here in Pandaria, so we are going to decide his fate here.”  Meanwhile, Jaina, brooding in the background with her fingers going the Mr. Burns thing I guess, is watching.  When Varian walks back to her, she says, “Huh-uh.  This is not enough.  They have done far too much to us.  Look at them now.  They’re already scheming.  They’re already figuring out what their next move it.  We need to dismantle the Horde.”

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s really important – dismantle.  Remember that word.

Tzufit:  We will come back to that.  There will be a pop quiz.  Anyway, at this point, Varian does not respond to Jaina whatsoever.  He walks back toward the Horde leadership, at which point it’s revealed that Vol’jin has become the next warchief.  There’s the moment – because Varian picks up his sword when he goes over there – that it’s like, “Oh, what’s going to happen?  Is there going to be some kind of dismantling here?”  But then he puts down the sword and just essentially gives the Horde an ultimatum, which is, “You helped us get rid of Garrosh and we recognize that that was important.  But if you come after us again, we will end you.”

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s pretty clear to us that Varian means business.  Despite the fact that he’s making some magnanimous, diplomatic overtones, he’s definitely got the doing the 2 fingers at the eyes and pointing it back at Vol’jin.  You can see the seriousness.  King Wrynn isn’t fucking around.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  Varian put his business pants on.  There’s no question.

Apple Cider Mage:  This has been so interesting and this has been so hotly debated and talked about in the community because Jaina apparently seems to uncharacteristically-acting in the cutscene.  This might speak to the fact that the voice direction in this game is not always amazing.

Tzufit:  Well I’m pretty sure Chris Metzen voiced Jaina too, right?

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah.  Yeah, I forgot.  See my boyfriend’s going to go absolutely mad for you suggesting that because the woman who voices Jaina is actually one of his favorite voice actresses.

Tzufit:  Ah, well I’m sorry.  I just thought it was a safe assumption, based on every other voice in the game.

Apple Cider Mage:  So around the community, it’s been just basically a really hotly discussed and very contentious topic about what exactly is going on with Jaina, let alone the fact that that cutscene featured at least 5 other people.

Tzufit:  Yeah, that is a good point.  Although, in the Alliance version of the cinematic, I think Jaina is the only other faction leader to speak outside of Thrall, who kind of is there in an independent role, I guess, until the end, and then Vol’jin and Varian of course.

Apple Cider Mage:  In the Horde version, you just get Vol’jin being like, “I don’t deserve this.”  So the Alliance version I definitely feel as a little bit more politics involved as opposed to everybody kind of half-heartedly kneeling to Vol’jin as the new warchief.  So the fact that there has been so much focus on Jaina has actually been something of a real critical point for us.  We were kind of looking at what everybody was saying about this and what sparked this discussion was actually 2 blog posts that we’ll link in the blog for this episode.  One was a “Dear Jaina” letter at WoW Insider, sort of very critically looking at Jaina and asking, “Oh, what are you doing, Jaina?”  One was actually written by my guildmate, Celine and she writes over at her blog called Bibliotecha.  She actually printed a rebuttal to Anne’s open letter that was criticizing Jaina and it actually offers a really interesting counterpoint to not only how we talk about Jaina, but how we talk about a lot of the writing and criticism that goes into the female NPCs in World of Warcraft, which as you know, is kind of a specialty of ours.

Tzufit:  Right.  I think we should point out, too, exactly the nature of the criticism that Jaina has received, which has largely been along the lines of – essentially that her reaction has been disproportionate to what she’s experienced.  So – yes, Theramore was terrible.  Lots of people died.  Jaina had some very righteous anger that came out of that experience.  However, the person who was supposedly directly responsible for that experience, Garrosh, is now going to be brought to justice.  There’s sort of this question of was it appropriate that, in Tides of War for example, Jaina’s reaction wasn’t a precision strike to go in and take out Garrosh, it was “I’m going to level Orgrimmar now.”  The same thing is sort of happening in this cinematic, where it’s not, “Well that’s good enough.  We have Garrosh.  I’m going to let bygones be bygones,” it’s, “No.  It is time for us to dismantle the Horde.”

Apple Cider Mage:  I felt that that was a really important point when we start to look at criticism and we start deconstructing some of Jaina’s feelings on the matter.  But my whole thing before we even get into that is just how divisive this has been in the community regarding Jaina when – I don’t know.  I don’t feel that conflicted.  I feel sympathetic for Jaina.

Tzufit:  I think it’s very difficult to claim that Jaina’s behavior or Jaina’s argument that the Alliance needs to stop turning the back on the things that the Horde does – I think it’s really difficult to say that that’s irrational, because we have lots of historical evidence of attempting to keep peace between these two factions and historically the Horde have really not done so great at that.  Maybe it’s not necessarily been a coordinated effort as a group.  Maybe it’s somebody who kind of goes rogue and all of a sudden lots of Alliance people die.  But I don’t think it’s so far out of left field for a powerful Alliance faction leader to look at what has happened to her people over the last decade and say, “We can’t trust them.  We need to do something about this.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I feel her anger is completely justified.  I have not liked everything that Jaina’s done in the past and I think that’s kind of what’s fueling a lot of people’s criticism from a lore standpoint.  Obviously, I think the scourging of Dalaran was really unfair.  I don’t like totalitarian stuff like that in any case, whether it’s Garrosh, or Jaina, or whomever.  However, at this point, the fact that she said “dismantle the Horde” says to me that there’s a lot more of a window to really kind of dig in to what she’s doing from a feminist theory standpoint.  Overall for me, it feels like I can sympathize with her actions a lot more.  She is legitimately angry.  She has a right to be angry.  She has valid reasons to be angry.  I think that’s why so many people are actually criticizing her.  It’s pretty typical, even in Warcraft – especially in Warcraft – with how Warcraft likes to write women and their arc, and their characterization.  This was brought up very strongly in the Bibliotecha blog article that Blizzard does not let women win.  It does not let women in Warcraft succeed if they become angry.  I’m actually going to quote something directly from the blog post that resonated pretty heavily:

A lot of this [meaning Celine’s criticism] is born out of my frustration that women in Warcraft tend to be pushed to their limits by the storylines, and then callously abandoned to their fate (often death, at the hands of us “heroes”) when they’re deemed irredeemable. Keristrasza [the red dragon that we actually talked about in one of our last episodes] was captured, abused and forced to be Malygos’ consort after she murdered his previous one, and you have to kill her in the Nexus, an act which the wiki entry for her states “a sad, but necessary end.”

She goes on to talk about basically that Warcraft women who give into anger, they set them up to fail.  Because of that, it is so frustrating to see people in the community react to them as if they are women who make their own choices and are not characters written predominantly by men.

Tzufit:  It is fascinating to see it from that perspective, especially, I think, with Jaina.  Jaina is a character who has spent her entire life, up until the events that happen at Theramore, Jaina has been working within the system that has been established to attempt to bring peace between the Horde and the Alliance for years.  She’s done so by being reasonable, rational, by trying to appeal to these people on their own terms, and she has made zero headway doing that.

Apple Cider Mage:  I feel like people’s dislike of Jaina started whenever she started showing emotion.  She’s always been this calm, diplomatic type.  While some people have called her “milk toast” or something like that, or “too peaceable,” which is ironic given everything that’s occurred now, I feel like people’s criticism of her started ramping up really quickly once she started showing emotions by the time that Wrath was ending, and has just kind of gone on a downhill run since then.

Tzufit:  Right, because the first reaction was really in Icecrown Citadel when you see Jaina start to break down a little, start to tear up a little, when we get past the gunship battle, when we’re actually going into the Citadel itself.  She realizes, “I’m going to have to confront Arthas soon.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It was the first time that we’ve really seen her act in a personal way that wasn’t just the, “I’m a studious woman.  I read books.  I like to talk about diplomacy.  I want to stop Varian Wrynn from killing all of the Horde.”

Tzufit:  Yeah, and let’s talk about Varian a little bit, because one of the most interesting aspects of this is that women in Warcraft, as Apple Cider has pointed out before and elsewhere multiple times, often are only there as foils to the male characters that are more important in the lore.  So previously, when we had a Varian who was quite understandably very upset, very distrustful, very violent toward the orcs because of all of the treatment that he had experienced at their hands for several years; his counterpart was Jaina, who attempted to balance him out, who tried to keep the peace, and who really was supposed to be that balancing force between Horde and Alliance when things were a lot tenser than they have been more recently.  Now that we magically have this Varian who has calmed down significantly – and that’s a character development that’s fairly difficult to understand as well, because I really expected we were going to get a little more explanation of that in some of the books post-Mists of Pandaria.  We were told as Alliance players that we were going to have a king that we could be proud of because everybody knew that he hated Varian.  The way, it seems, that that’s been achieved in Blizzard’s narrative is they just completely changed Varian’s personality.  There really hasn’t been a lot of explanation for it.  So since Varian has taken on more of the diplomatic peacekeeper role, if Jaina is to remain his foil, that means that Jaina all of a sudden is going to have to be the warmonger.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  And here’s the thing – Varian was completely “justified” after Wrathgate for losing his shit.  Think about it.  He believes that his longtime friend, confidant, pseudo-dad to his son Anduin, Bolvar Fordring, is dead.  He feels that the Horde and the Alliance pact has been shattered due to the actions of Sylvanas and that there is an insurmountable evil in Northrend.  I mean, Varian feels angry and upset because he has lost almost everything good in his life at this point.  He has no wife.  He has had to be away from his son for years.  He’s angry at the mistreatment at the hands of the Horde as a gladiator and now his friend is dead, too – or supposedly dead at that point.  He’s understandably, justifiably angry and works through that and Jaina has to placate him and be the diplomat.  So the second that her city gets bombed and she becomes so angry and overwhelmed and loses everybody that she cares about, save for maybe Anduin and Vareesa, suddenly it’s not Ok for her to feel the same rage that Varian did at Wrathgate or in Wrath?  That’s so not fair.  It’s why I hate the criticism of Jaina and why it’s gotten so annoyingly loud and shrill and just hypocritical.  Ever since Theramore, the writers have been pushing her in a direction to not just be the foil of Varian Wrynn, but to be the scapegoat for him stealing her ideas for diplomacy.  Look at Operation Shieldwall.  She goes completely bonkers on Dalaran, which again don’t agree with, but she did it anyway and we can kind of see her reasoning behind it.  She goes completely bonkers in Dalaran and Varian does what?  He yells at her.  He yells at her.  “Oh Jaina.  Why did you go ahead and do that without telling me?  I was trying to bring about the elves into our faction.  I was trying to make a deal with them.”  Because suddenly she’s acting outside of his control, he suddenly had the idea to be diplomatic?  Shit, dude.  What has Jaina been doing this entire fucking time before you got your head around the fact that maybe peace is a great idea?  Suddenly now she’s the bad guy for not being diplomatic?  Fuck you, Varian.

Tzufit:  This brings up one of my fundamental issues with the way that character actions are discussed and critiqued in the community.  A lot of times, most of the writers that we see fall into the habit of critiquing Warcraft characters as if they are real people who are making the decisions themselves.  There’s some level of fun and there’s some level of helpfulness, I guess, to do it that way.  But what’s crucial, I think, to remember is that every decision a character makes is actually decided by a real person at Blizzard, obviously.  So what bothers me here is that if Blizzard decided the Alliance needs a faction leader that they can really rally behind, and Varian isn’t necessarily that person because a lot of bad stuff has happened to him.  He’s very angry, and we understand that.  It makes sense.  But in general, Alliance players don’t like him in that way that you would want them to like a king.  So why is the best answer to this, “Well let’s completely 180 Varian’s character, but then we’re still going to need somebody who’s an instigator because we don’t want the Alliance to be completely passive with the Horde or that would be pointless.  There would be no reason to have 2 factions then.  So we have to have an instigator for the Horde.  Well, you know what?  Let’s bomb Theramore and we’ll make Jaina the new instigator.”  Why is that roundabout bullshit logic anymore legitimate than just saying, “Hey.  Maybe Jaina’s the one people rally behind?”

Apple Cider Mage:  Because they will never, ever let a woman character succeed.  Never.  This is something that, again, got brought up in the Bibliotecha blog article that I felt was so poignant, in that women in Azeroth, especially angry women, do not get redemption narratives.  Everybody loves redemption narratives.  We love it when we see somebody do wrong and get back up and apologize and make right and become a better person.  Varian has that redemption narrative tied to his back so hard it’s almost like he got a second son.

Tzufit:  Yep, exactly.  He is this ultimate king now.  He absolutely has the gravitas.  Like I said, he put on his serious king pants.  He is ready to go.  At the same time, we respect him both because he has made this difficult decision to spare a very dangerous enemy because he believes it’s the morally and honorably right thing to do; but he also makes it clear to the Horde, like you said, with the two eyes and we are watching you.  We are not going to let this happen again.  So yeah, absolutely they’ve redeemed the hell out of Varian.

Apple Cider Mage:  He can do no wrong despite the fact that he has, whereas Jaina gets a very different portrayal and because of that a very different discrimination and condescension and criticism from the fan base.  This is why it’s so crucial to us and why we’re talking about it, because of the fact that these are not real people we’re talking about, that this criticism is toward characters that were created by people at Blizzard.  It’s so crucial to us to look at the “text” in both a literal and an academic sense from a feminist framework.  This is so – I don’t know.  I feel like this is so rote that you can look at this situation, look at how people are talking about Jaina, look at the kind of stories that they’re implementing, look at how those stories affect the women characters like Keristraza, like Blood Queen Lana’thel, like Leyara, like Tyrande, like Maiev.  All of the stories have so many things in common, and it’s because Blizzard does not write women to be redeemed once they have hit that point of “irrational anger,” when they have gone on to become villains, when they are doing bad things that we don’t feel are morally correct.  It always goes the same way.  The fact that people are saying that Jaina’s going to become a new villain shows that once a woman character moves past a certain point, that’s it.  We’re done.  We don’t care about her, despite the fact that there are so many levels of stuff going on here that you can feel sympathy for, that have real justifiable causes, that have a lot of meat to them.  I don’t know.  Why are we suddenly turning our backs on Jaina the second that she made a pretty emotional, passionate argument for dismantling – and I repeat, dismantling – the structures that have marginalized her in her own society, that have destroyed her whole city, who have destroyed her notion of diplomacy?  Why is her asking for that dismantling a villainous act?  Why is it a bad thing?  Looking at it from a feminist perspective, it basically seems like everybody’s upset that a woman is being angry instead of unemotional, rational, and complacent.  It’s like when NPCs stop being nice and start getting real.  The Real World:  Azeroth.

Tzufit:  Exactly.

Apple Cider Mage:  Jaina’s the heel of the story now.

Tzufit:  Right.  She has stopped being polite because she’s no longer – she’s recognized that it doesn’t work.  She has been trying, again, for years and years to get these 2 sides to come to an understanding and all along she has been the person in the most dangerous position.  She is the Alliance leader who lives smack in the middle of Horde territory.  She has the most to lose.  She has the most at stake, and she has been the one advocating for peace all along.  Then all of these other aspects of the Alliance that have said no for one reason or another repeatedly, over and over again, when it comes down to the moment that the giant arcane bomb shows up over Theramore – where are they?  You know, go to Theramore pre-bomb.  It’s not exactly like there’s a ton of Alliance forces there.  You know who’s there?  Theramore guards, and half of them want to desert because they don’t think that Jaina’s leadership is intelligent.  So exactly how much defense did Theramore really have courtesy of the Alliance, who are the ones telling them, “Nope, you gotta stick it out over there are we’re going to keep waging war against the people in your backyard.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Jaina is just doing what Jaina needs to do to get through this.  As we said, she’s been working from inside the system for many years.  It isn’t working.  It’s not getting her anywhere.

Tzufit:  The system has not supported her at all.

Apple Cider Mage:  She’s gotten failed on so many levels – from her king, from her people, from her faction.  What is she supposed to do?  Her back’s up against a wall.  If you go back to the cutscene, after you defeat Garrosh, it is a bunch of men standing around, deciding the fate of the free world as it were, without any input from her whatsoever.  Anne’s article talks about this because, “Oh, Jaina doesn’t quite have the pull anymore.  It’s not her area of expertise.”

Tzufit:  As if she ever did.  As if she was ever a voice that they listened to.  You know, just as the “Hush, Tyrande” was a defining moment in terms of seeing where women fall in the grand scheme of things in Warcraft, the moment when Jaina makes her plea to Varian in what I think is a pretty rational way, at the end of the day, and Varian says not one word to her before he walks away and makes his own decision about how he’s going to handle it.

Apple Cider Mage:  That was so insulting to me.  That was so insulting to me because the fact that they’re trying to paint Jaina as villainous by how they voiced her, how they made her face look, everything says “Here!  Here’s a villain.  Here’s this woman who’s angry.  She’s whispering in the ear of Varian Wrynn.”

Tzufit:  Yes, exactly.

Apple Cider Mage:  Varian Wrynn is going to do the right and moral thing.  He gets to be the one that isn’t the villain and now she’s the villain.  Jaina is pretty much, from a feminist standpoint, from a feminist reading, Jaina is an allegory for women trying to deal with a patriarchal society.  There is no question in my mind that in this particular moment, the men are making all of the decisions in this world.  There is no discussion from the women – the 2 women that are present, might I add.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  The fact that Jaina’s been failed by her friends, Varian and Thrall.  Thrall, who put Garrosh onto the throne after he left.  So no one has done Jaina any favors at this point, and now they get to decide what’s going to come of Garrosh?  The fact that Thrall was about to brain Garrosh on the head and no one sees him as a villain and yet Jaina decides to make a suggestion that they dismantle the Horde – it’s so textbook I can’t even say.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  She wants to undo the structures, the power structures, the hegemony that has been ruling and destroying her life as of late.  She wants to undermine, to deconstruct, to get rid of – and this is a pretty radical thing if you think about it, in Azeroth.  She wants to get rid of that faction’s structures because up to this point, it has been poisonous and it has been destructive.

Tzufit:  It’s not just about Theramore.  It’s about the fact – and I hope that everyone understands, yes, we are both speaking from an Alliance viewpoint, but this is in no way about factional leaning or anything like that.  But the Horde historically has had issues with losing control or having no way to contain certain population, certain leadership.  Let’s not pretend that anybody is checking Sylvanas right now with what’s going on over there.  There is something about the way the Horde is structured that makes it more possible for radical elements to really rain hell when they decide to do so.  I don’t think it’s “crazy” or “angry” or “irrational” for an Alliance leader to point out that this system is fundamentally dangerous to us.  Maybe we need to talk about how to change it.

Apple Cider Mage:  Like I said, that’s why it’s so allegorical.  It is a structure, it is a power structure – and I don’t even think it’s just the Horde.  I think it’s that room.  It’s that tiny room filled with Thrall, filled with Garrosh, filled with Taran Zhu, filled with Vol’jin and Baine, and Varian – these men that are in power, standing around, deciding how things are going to go with no consideration for anybody outside of that room.  How is that not giant symbolism for what could be read as a very feminist-minded Jaina?  Jaina has been hurt.  She has seen people that she supported putting the people that hurt her back into power because it suits them, because it’s better for them, because it makes them look good without actually considering the welfare of others.  That’s what she’s really looking to dismantle and to call that villainous?  Well, I could say some things about why people would call that villainous, but I don’t want to go too completely off to the left field with this imagery that I’ve constructed.  But let me say – she did not say “kill the Horde.”  She did not say “oppress them.”  She did not say “round them up and put them in a camp” like the Alliance used to do.  She’s saying dismantle the power structure that enabled Garrosh, that enabled Garrosh to be a fascist leader – and this is before the sha corruption.  Garrosh was a leader that had no problem sending guards in the middle of the night to kill his own people, to spy on people.

Tzufit:  To intimidate and harass the other faction leaders within his faction.

Apple Cider Mage:  And assassinate key members of their representatives.  This is what the Horde enabled.  You can talk all you want about how Vol’jin and Baine and Liadrin were all backed into a corner, how they didn’t have the power to overthrow Garrosh.  So then let’s just look at somebody like Thrall.  Thrall puts Garrosh on the fucking throne.  Garrosh makes these decisions and yet the other Horde leaders had nothing to do with this?  No one could have taken him out?  No one could have checked his power?  No one?  Not even someone like Sylvanas?  The Horde’s power structure is inherently harmful and that’s what Jaina is asking for the end to.  Instead of Varian going up and making nice with Vol’jin, say “You need to not be the warchief.  You need to create a Horde – or destroy the Horde as an entity, as a power structure and do something different if we are going to have faction diplomacy.”

Tzufit:  One other crucial thing, I think, that was brought up in the original article, the open letter to Jaina, is this idea that Jaina probably isn’t doing this on her own.  There’s probably some corruption, some old god, some sha, some Wrathion who’s kind of influencing what she’s thinking and just as we saw throughout Pandaria, these forces are able to exploit the strong emotions that you have in yourself.  So probably what’s happened with Jaina isn’t that she’s righteously angry for all of the atrocities that have been committed over the last several years, and particularly in this expansion, but that she’s just being corrupted by an outside force.

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s insulting.

Tzufit:  It is.  It is.

Apple Cider Mage:  So not only are you compounding the fact that Blizzard does not allow women redemption narratives in their story, you’re also taking away their agency as villains?

Tzufit:  Yeah, exactly.  Exactly.  So it’s not only was she a bad faction leader because people didn’t trust her when she was this peacekeeper because they didn’t think she had the ability to keep them safe and they didn’t agree with her decision-making; now that she’s a villain giving them essentially what they wanted, which is to attack the Horde, we’re taking away even that decision from her.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s sad because I think Jaina has every right to her anger.  I think she has every right to do and say the things that she does and make the choices she does.  If she becomes a villain, that’s Blizzard’s pretty typical way of writing a character out of existence.  If they make it because of old gods or Wrathion, that’s even more insulting because it takes away her ability to even just make the choices of being a villain, like so many other women characters who have gone the same way.  Like the Bibliotecha article points out, things like how Blood Queen Lana’thel had to submit to the Lich King and Leyara was sort of convinced by the forces that changed her over.  It feels like no matter what women do, no matter how good they are, how bad they are, or morally grey they are, there is not one choice they make, not one step that they take that is not decided as somebody’s else thing, as somebody else’s business or choices or decisions.  Their decisions are constantly derided, undermined, and taken over, given credit to other people.  It makes me absolutely infuriated and the fact that they’re doing this now to one of the most well-known, beloved female NPCs that World of Warcraft has had ever of any note – what’s going to come next?  What’s going to happen?

Tzufit:  I want to read just one more quote from the Bibliotecha article because I really feel like this sort of hits the nail on the head in terms of the problem here.  So from the blog itself here:

I’m tired of killing female characters in WoW because it’s the only way they can be ‘saved’.  It proves that the community can be led by its nose regarding the usefulness of characters, because I remember a time when everyone and their grandmother hated how “soft” Jaina was in Wrath. She hardened up! She did! Actively. It was a choice.  If we want choices for female characters to matter, if we want to stamp down on the madness narrative that implies all women are hugging feely-healers who just want to breastfeed their tanks, then that involves acknowledging that women can make bad choices, villainous ones, hard ones, through their own lens of experiences, and not because a Sha is perched in her brain, or a baby dragon whispering in her ear.”

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s really what sums this whole discussion up, I think.  Blizzard does not write these women in a way that supports their own choices and it gives them one track to travel down if they aren’t a good and complacent and yielding character.

Tzufit:  Yep.  I don’t know.  We’ll see what’s in store for Jaina, but I have to say that from the direction that narrative took and from the community response to that narrative, I just can’t have high hopes about this.

Apple Cider Mage:  Absolutely not.  Everybody that’s calling dibs on the fact that she’s going to be a villain – la de dah.  Welcome to 8 years ago.  This is nothing new.  You are not prognosticating a wild and crazy future that has high odds of going either way.  This is pretty set it stone if you follow anything about Blizzard’s writing whatsoever.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  I’ve got to say it aggravated me a little to see the discussion that she would sort of be the Sylvanas of the Alliance, which is annoying first of all because the comparison is just being invited because they’re both women; but also because I cannot see how it is fair to compare Jaina, who certainly has some violence in past now, with everything that happened in Dalaran, but it just seems difficult to me to compare that to all of the atrocities that we have seen Sylvanas do since Cataclysm.

Apple Cider Mage:  I used to be a pretty steadfast Sylvanas-hater, but after sort of coming to grips with the fact that Blizzard really doesn’t provide much characterization room for many of their long-term female characters, I can’t help but feel sympathetic toward Sylvanas in some ways.  It feels like she’s being railroaded in the same direction, except somehow her genocide is made a lot “cooler” for one reason or another.  I don’t know.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  Jaina’s never been given the same treatment.

Tzufit:  It is a really weird thing to look at the way – because pretty inarguably they’re the two most well-known, most powerful women in the Warcraft universe, outside of – who we see regularly, I should say.  The difference in the way that people feel about Sylvanas versus how they feel about Jaina is really staggering because Sylvanas has sort of always had this supportive following.  The cult of personality around her isn’t just an in-game thing.  It’s an out of game thing, too.  People are very dedicated to her as a leader.  You don’t hear that about Jaina.  You don’t hear that from Horde players, you don’t hear it from Alliance players.  There’s not this sort of cult of Jaina out there.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I wonder if it’s because Sylvanas has occupied a different space than Jaina in that Sylvanas has always been played up as a “bad girl,” a very sexy, unemotional, uncaring, manipulative, politically savvy sort of character.  Jaina fills a very “good girl” role – studious and complacent-

Tzufit:  She’s the librarian role, basically.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I wonder if that’s attributed to some of the differences in perception.  But it’s funny because even with Sylvanas and the love of Sylvanas, especially in the parameters of the Horde, people seem to gloss over the parts of her characterization that directly tie into her own conflicts within herself as relating to Arthas.  People do not seem to ever talk about Sylvanas being an interesting character because she now has to grapple with the reality that she has to do something beyond being angry at Arthas.  People don’t seem to really be talking about that because I think that goes back up to not critiquing Blizzard’s writing capabilities.  We touched on it when we talked about Maiev, too.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  I feel like they’re liking a facet of Sylvanas, versus Sylvanas as the whole and complete character that has some problematic elements, who has some conflict in her.  People seem to be pretty clearly railroading her into a villain position too – that we’re going to put her down, too.  Mind you, I hate that phrase by the way, especially because it seems to be used to often when we talk about women characters.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  That it’s Ok to be an uncaring, manipulative, evil villainous woman as long as you are playing within a likeable trope.  The second that you do something out of step, even as a villain, that public opinion will turn on you on a dime, basically.  I feel that it’s because we have driven home that only certain kinds of narratives for women are the acceptable ones, that only certain kinds of characterization are the acceptable ones.  That Bibliotecha article really hit the nail on the head that if you want to write good women characters, you have to let them make mistakes.  You have to let them be angry.  You have to let them be villainous and make their own choices because otherwise they are but shades of all the men that you have written in the story.  You have to let them be redeemed, too, but again that requires letting them have their mistakes as opposed to going, “Oh, well she did something bad and she’s angry now and she’s possibly evil or corrupted.  Guess we gotta kill her now,” which unfortunately is a lot of the role that we as players factor into.  We go out and kill the broken-down, crazy, messed up, angry women that are not useful to us anymore in the story.  So we get to go and kill them for purples.

Tzufit:  One of the concerning parts about the idea that these characters can be discarded after they’ve fulfilled their usefulness is that if Jaina’s sort of usefulness was that she was the peacekeeper, she was the voice of reason – not only does Varian not necessarily need somebody in that role anymore because he more or less is doing it himself, but we have somebody on the backburner who’s been coming to the forefront lately who is absolutely that peacekeeper role and is male.  That’s Anduin.

Apple Cider Mage:  And potentially under his father’s thumb.  What?  I said it.

Tzufit:  Yeah.  Anduin is really – he’s got to be in his teens at this point.  We’ve seen him grow up through Cataclysm and through Mists.  He’s getting close to the point where he’s going to be a policy-maker.  He’s going to be decision-maker.  He can easily step into that role that Jaina used to fill of trying to bridge the gap between the Horde and the Alliance.  So, if they don’t need her to do that what exactly is Blizzard’s story going to do with Jaina at that point?  It seems like the obvious answer is they need her to be the instigator and they need her to be the villain.

Apple Cider Mage:  Either that or she’s going to go back to Dalaran and have babies.

Tzufit:  Well, you know, that would calm her right down.  So maybe that’s what should happen.

Apple Cider Mage:  But babies!  This has been your episode of Justice Points featuring a passionate, emotional argument that does not feature acceptable rationality at any point.

Tzufit:  Apple Cider and Tzufit are clearly too angry to live.

Apple Cider Mage:  Exactly.

Tzufit:  Please send your raid teams to our addresses.

Apple Cider Mage:  I think that there is a lot of criticism that we’ve thrown out.  I think that a lot of it is valid.  I feel that it’s not a discussion that a lot of people are having as evidenced by so much of the community’s perception of Jaina.  So I’m glad we’re having this discussion because I don’t think a lot of people look at Blizzard’s characterization of women from a feminist framework.  There are people who do, but it’s definitely not in the majority.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and it is so important to me and it’s something that the community just does not do, to really keep in mind that it is kind of nonsensical to critique a fictional character for themselves, for their own worth.  If you have problems with the narrative arc that a fictional character is going down, you don’t say, “Hey Jaina.  That’s dumb.  Let me tell you what to do.”  You say, “Hey Blizzard writer.  Why are you writing Jaina this way?  Why are you making these choices for her because it’s really entering some problematic stuff into your narrative?  Is that something you really want?  Is that something intentional?”  I certainly hope that the answer there is no, but that sort of criticism has to be brought to the attention of the people who write these stories if we want to see meaningful stories for women in this game.

Apple Cider Mage:  Absolutely.  It’s just as fundamental, I think, as the criticism of Blizzard when they put stupid dialogue into the game.  It’s just as fundamentally as important because on the surface it looks like stuff like what happened with Ji Firepaw, with what happened with the gross orc refuge dudes.  That’s the more sinister and-

Tzufit:  Blatant.  It’s very obvious.

Apple Cider Mage:  But how we look at the stories that we ingest and play through and, in a lot of ways, normalize and internalize, those are the things that I think need the most criticism and need the most deconstruction.  That’s why I really like that Bibliotecha article because I think it says a lot of things that we don’t often say.  The stories that we enjoy inform our opinions about not just the stories themselves, but how we relate to other people.  That’s the point of this whole thing.  We’re not just looking at Jaina.  We’re looking at how Blizzard frames these things and, in turn, how we look at women themselves.

Tzufit:  Couldn’t agree with you more.  And that is our 5.4 roundup, which I’m going to go ahead and wager would be a little bit different than every other 5.4 roundup you’ve heard so far this week.

Apple Cider Mage:  Maybe just a touch, maybe.

Tzufit:  Thank you very much for listening to the podcast today.  If you have any thoughts whatsoever about Jaina, about 5.4, about gross orc dudes in Razor Hill, we would love to hear from you.  Please send us an email at justicepointspodcast@gmail.com.  You can also reach us on Twitter @justicepoints.  We would love to hear some feedback.  We always appreciate any comments that we get and are really interested in how you’re enjoying the show and if you have additional stuff to add.

Apple Cider Mage:  We did actually get a couple of reader comments about our “Smooches, Fanfic, and Community:  Queer People in Azeroth” episode.  @fillerdps on Twitter said that we mentioned Belbi Quickswitch, but no one mentioned her counterpart Blix, who I believe is a goblin.  He is a male goblin who sort of occupies the same space as Belbi, except he’s a dude.  So he is yet another dude that sort of is bisexual quasi-canonically much like Martek the Exiled.  We also had another tweet from a listener.  This is from @JetrixAdune on Twitter:  “Hey guys.  Just catching up on Episode 9.  While I agree with most of what was said in the podcast, I’m a little disappointed you didn’t discuss 2 pandaren relationships we see early in Mists of Pandaria.  Wanderbrew and Goldendraft and Foreman Mann.”  Now I didn’t do research of those characters because I didn’t remember doing them in Jade Forest.

Tzufit:  I do remember Foreman Mann.  He’s the one who’s lost the in jade mines and his wife sends you down there to help find him, I think.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  So good eye, Jetrix.  We’ll actually include links to those characters to their WoWpedia articles in the blog so that people can look them up and maybe see what was going on there as far as relationships.

Tzufit:  Thank you again for listening and we will talk to you next week!

1 comment

  1. re: Sylvannas vs. Jaina

    It’s funny, because this issue beautifully highlights multiple problems with Blizzard’s writing.

    The first is obviously its characterization of women. The thing is, I think the core of this problem is that Blizzard doesn’t know how to write a dynamic woman. They can write a static one — but when that character needs to evolve, everything just gets messy.

    I mean, if you’re a woman in the WoW universe, you have two options: turn into a raid boss, or lose agency.

    Jaina, Sylavanas, and Maiev are already teetering on the edge, each of them seemingly waiting for “the moment” that will inevitably require their sacrifice.

    But hell, at least that makes them relevant for a short amount of time — what about the women in the story who have… well, disappeared into obscurity? Tyrande — one of the most beloved characters from WC3 — has been written as a log (with babby, mind you).

    Alexstrasza? Ysera? Powerless.

    Shandris Feathermoon? Completely forgotten.

    The other not-quite-sexist glaring weakness highlighted by S & J is the characterization of Horde and Alliance characters — or rather, how despite claims to the contrary — Blizzard clearly has a bias toward Horde storytelling.

    Or, perhaps more even more accurately, Blizzard has actively stoked a “Horde community” — wherein Horde players have that “faction pride” thing going on. Alliance players? Not so much.

    Finally — corruption. I don’t even know what to say, really. Corruption is terrible. Is there a more “ugh” plot device? I mean, the tropy-ness of it was amusing through the first handful of WoW expansions/Blizzard games… but now? *Really?*

    Please. Please no.


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