This guest post is by talented writer and good friend of mine, Barney. When discussing the new Mists of Pandaria cinematic, he had some fantastic counters to the “haters”, which he kindly agreed to write down and share with us here. Thank you, Barney! I hope you enjoy reading his thoughts as much as I did.
I suppose that beyond all the labels I give myself, I’m a story teller; not because I choose to be but because it’s just what I am. I write when the labors of life don’t get in the way, and I’m a whore for a great story by fire light. Hell, at one point I wanted to be Indiana Jones, until I learned it was less guns and whips and more holes and brushes.
Why is this important? Backstory. Everything has it, stretching from tales like The Illiad to Fredric Brown’s “Knock.” For eight years we’ve delved into the hundreds of thousands of years of WoW lore and unfortunately it’s primarily coming to an end. The story that we’ve been building has fit into the already semi-crafted stages of lore; we’ve known where we sat on allegiances and people. But the time of backstory is over, it’s time for the real story to begin, the real truth to begin.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces
The topic of this post is cinematics, and it is in a round about way. I could blabber on about audio and video, or the points of Lore vs. PvP. Perhaps the thematic elements that stir those feelings inside your loins. But there’s too many variables, too many differences. How can you compare the WotLK cinematic which is purely lore based to TBC, which is lore AND Horde/Alliance based? Especially between people who prefer PvP to Lore and vice versa. So this post is not about the cinematics. It’s actually about you.
All heroes and their journeys fit into specific archetypes. Joseph Campbell stated this in his 1949 novel, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It’s viewable in so many different sources from Harry Potter to Star Wars, Aladdin, Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time, Halo. The list goes on and on. It even exists for you. For eight years our avatars have followed these guide lines set out by lore already crafted.
It has been the backbone of our characters entire existences. We have known the dangers of Illidan, Arthas, Deathwing, The Old Gods and more. The actions that we had to take gave us purpose, it gave us meaning. Unfortunately, we’re now delving into new lore, new ideas that havent been crafted for us. And in a small way, it’s unnerving.
Unfortunately, that’s also the reason we don’t like it. Not because it’s new. Not because it’s different and scary. But because, after eight years, it’s shown us that we’re wrong. We’ve spent eight years with our hands being held, pulled and tugged into all corners of the world. To broken worlds and cavernous deeps, all the while knowing what our purpose was. We were good, they were bad. Neither side was “Evil,” but it’s just a point of view. But that’s all different now.
We’re being shown that many of the things that we’ve done for the “Greater Good” aren’t great. They’re tainted. Bolvar’s inprisonment of The Lich King is tainted by the actions of a few alliance that fight for greed. Thrall’s deeds as Defender of Azeroth are sullied by Garrosh and his war machine.
We’re in a new land, with new adventures. And we aren’t the heroes any more, we’re the villains.
This story is our cave allegory. We’ve lived our lives staring at the shadows of what we’ve been told, and at the first glance of reality we burn the traitors at the stake.
The cinematic has all the elements of the other cinematics. Action, adventure, humour, lore, amazing sound and video. So why do people dislike it? Perhaps the reason we view the cinematic as not as “Epic” as the other’s isnt because it isn’t epic or because there’s pandas or humour or any other reason you can think of. But because it’s shown us the monsters that we really are.
And we hate it.
It’s all about the Subtext
I’ve seen quite a few posts not only in relation to the expansion, but also to Pandas and everything else in general.
And this approach seems to be from a very superficial level. People see the Horde and Alliance getting trounced by a cuddly panda bear with a semi cliched voice over.
What I see? Chen’s question isn’t one he’s asking himself; it’s one he knows the answer to. He’s posing the question to the Horde and Alliance as a whole: why are they fighting? Is it for peace and harmony? For home and family? No. He knows they fight for vengeance and hatred.
Further observe, however, that twinge of a smile he gives while Taylor hands Nazgrim the spear… He knows the Horde and Alliance will work together. He parts the mist, showing them what is “important,” and, ultimately, that they will need to band together to protect what is important to all of them.
People also have an issue with the fact that the Orc and Human put aside their differences to attack Chen, when infact it’s quite logical. If Aliens attacked Earth right now. I’d say it’s a pretty given fact that we as different nations and religions would put aside our differences to attack a new foe. That is all they did; one comes in whose fighting style they do not know, so they simply cast aside your own fight until you have eliminated the immediate threat in order to continue later on.
Seeing as the old god who’s likely kerfufling with the Alliance and Horde and responsible for the Sha will become much stronger as the conflict progresses, they will have to set aside their differences and combat the menace they’ve created. Taylor and Nazgrim are a “microcosm” for this point. Just as they fought, the Alliance and Horde will fight: that’s the WAR part of it.
Humour has also been a big issue that people have had. Obviously they never watched the Polymorphing Mage or Murloc incinerating Warlock from the TBC Cinematic! People have issues with the fact that Chen replaced the pole into it’s position and straightened it. The character is a Monk, a person of peace and balance; do you really think he wouldn’t return something to its rightful place AND straighten it? It’s in his nature.
The Rising Mists
In the end, people will do what they want and like what they want. It’s one of the joys of living in a democracy. We can do what we want, say what we want. But I think, in theme with what a lot of people are doing these days, they want things bluntly said. They don’t want to look behind at what is truly being said. They wanted Horde and Alliance fighing a savage looking panda with explosions and Chen screaming for them to stop as tendrils of Sha Energy rise from the ground. They didn’t get it, and now all they see is a cuddly panda playing with two people.
Stop looking at the surface, and like this expansion and all that it offers, look underneath to what is really being said.