Blizzard Sponsors Homophobia with Chuck Norris Ad Spot

Last night, Blizzard debuted another one of their celebrity ad spots during a football game. It featured Chuck Norris, of eponymous joke fame, with a fairly annoying and offensive Asian stereotype voice-over, running around beating people up as a melee hunter. Funny, right?

Eh, maybe not as funny as I imagined. Why is that, you ask? Probably because Chuck Norris has publically gone on record espousing many views that are fairly bigoted. Like that schools should feature a more conservative agenda, Day of Silence shouldn’t be held, and other such fun ideas like how he dislikes Roe vs. Wade. The fact that these links from his own blog and various websites go back a couple years shows a progression of ideas that he is free to express, but are not exactly friendly towards a particular segment of the possible World of Warcraft population.

But Cider, you say, what does it matter what he says on his silly site? Blizzard was just using him for Chuck Norris jokes!

Maybe it is because I’m a general peon in the scheme of things, and not an actual PR practitioner but I believe that when you use a celebrity to endorse your product, you endorse their name, clout and image. If that image is them also spouting off stuff on the Internet (which -is- important these days), then you are tacitly endorsing that too. Nothing a celebrity says or does in the public eye exists in the vacuum, especially in these days when celebrities have easy access to social media. This is why celebs lose contracts and endorsements from backing companies when they do something that the company doesn’t agree with, especially if it hurts their image. You don’t want your puppy chow associated with a known animal mistreater, you don’t want your brand of vodka associated with someone who racks up a DWI. So if you want to be a company that is friendly to all your customers, not using someone who wants to leave some of them out is a good idea. The fact that Chuck Norris has a history of saying these things long before Blizzard reached out to him is problematic at best. It’s no Corpsegrinder, but it does leave me with some questions about the thoroughness of Blizzard’s vetting of celebrities or maybe even outright dismissal that it is important.

That all being said, why can’t we use a more nerdy, awesome celebrity to promote World of Warcraft? Like Mila Kunis (a woman, gasp!) or Vin Diesel. They both play or have played WoW at some point in their career and they don’t quite have the same problematic background as Chuck Norris.

32 Responses

  1. I think your point here stretches beyond reasonable. Especially in your comparison of Chuck Norris’ political views and the illegal acts of other celebrity endorsements. You are essentially comparing his views to criminal acts, which takes away the credibility of your complaint. While I am not a fan of his views overall they have little to nothing to do with his endorsement of WoW.

    • My comparison may have been strong but I think that having views that alienate some of WoW’s client-base -is- relevant to WoW using him to endorse their products, regardless. I don’t think his ideas on gays or reproductive choices are criminal acts, but I don’t think they are separate or irrelevant.

    • The crux of a celebrity endorsement is that you’re holding up the celebrity as a paragon of taste– you are saying, in essence: “Everything this guy is associated with is awesome. We are associated with him. We’re awesome.”

      The trick is Norris is also associated with pretty savage bigotry, and intentionally or not Blizzard now puts their game in the same realm of things Norris endorse. Chuck Norris likes depriving homosexuals of certain rights and privileges under the law, and he likes World of Warcraft. It’s really an association or comparison Blizzard wants (I should bloody well fucking hope), especially following their last brush with promoting a bigot.

  2. You have a very good point. I try to avoid politics, religion, and moral dilemmas from my blog just because it’s the way I was raised. (Public polite conversation in my household growing up had nothing to do with those topics — my parents were old school).

    I do agree that when using a celebrity endorsement, your PR folks should certainly look at how that person will reflect on the product being advertised. There’s a huge diverse population that does play WoW, and there’s no need to alienate any group. Also, there’s enough trolls in trade chat, we don’t need to encourage more discrimination and bullying anywhere. For that, I don’t agree with their selection of the Texas Ranger.

    There’s also another point to be made here… how many people will really associate Chuck Norris with being an ultra conservative political activist? I don’t at first look. I think about Texas Ranger and him roundhouse kicking people. Oh, and the total gym thing he was promoting awhile back on infomercial.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that PR should have really examined what this could mean before giving the OK on this commercial, but I’m not convinced most people will associate Chuck Norris with conservative activism.

    • I believe your second point is absolutely correctand I have a feeling that this is true for many fans, maybe even Blizzard themselves. But it can’t be SOP for Blizzard. They have departments for these things. So I just wonder what’s going on here. As far as what topics I go into, still finding my feet in that regard. But I think it is fairly evident that certain things are hot-button topics for me.

      • You have every right to have your hot button topics — I do too, it’s just something I tend not to talk about. I love the fact that you are able to discuss this stuff in a constructive way. Kudos for that!

        I’m pretty surprised that Blizzard PR didn’t think this one through more after the Corpsegrinder incident — this pales in comparison as you pointed out, but still subtly jabs at a growing part of the WoW community.

      • I’d be willing to wager it was done before Blizzcon, but you’re absolutely right the PR guys should have thought about it given the outcry from the wow population for Corpsegrinder.

    • “I’m not convinced most people will associate Chuck Norris with conservative activism.”

      On the other hand, there are some who do. The first thing I thought of when I saw the commercial was (a) why is he a melee hunter and then (b) that perhaps he isn’t the best new PR option based on his political and social persuasions.

      I also second the need for a celebrity PR option who is not male.

  3. What a complete joke.

    So let me get this straight. If a person’s moral or political views don’t align with yours, they shouldn’t be allowed to represent a video game? Wow. And “conservatives” are intolerant.

    So what if Chuck Norris believes abortion and homosexuality are immoral? What does that have to do with WOW?

    And never mind that these are opinions that only 50 years ago or so were WIDELY shared by all societies. For thousands of years virtually everyone held to these basic opinions. But now these people are evil and cannot be a part of our culture because some of us disagree with them. Sheesh.

    Here’s MY…er…opinion. If you don’t have the same opinions as Norris, fine. Just don’t bring it to the WOW table. He didn’t. It’s not the place. Chuck Norris (obviously) left his personal and political beliefs at the door when he participated in the commercial. We should too.

    That said, if Chuck Norris HAD touted his opinions in the commercial, all of creation would have conformed to his views. Because he’s Chuck Norris and resistance would have been futile.

    • Giving the dude increased publicity and awareness, intrinsically, gives support to his views. His views are intolerant (I suspect yours are as well, considering the gracious lip service you give to them). The more intolerance and bigotry, or those who promote them are in the public eye without being decried, the more acceptable they become within the public consciousness.

      Imagine: somebody sees that, goes to look up Chuck Norris on the internet. After wading through about a billion one-liners, they come upon his actual political beliefs. Reinforced by public acceptance of Norris, said person internalizes those beliefs as well– society accepts that Norris is a Paragon of Awesome, Norris condemns homosexuals as not deserving of basic human rights (protip: we are), those who have no stake in the matter (i.e. those to whom the menace of homophobia isn’t ‘real’ because it doesn’t affect theme or anyone they know) assume society’s norms on the opinion.

      This is how a culture of bigotry (specifically, here, homophobia) insinuates itself into society. Silence is not an option– it’s /thrives/ on that.

      • So, because a person holds a personal belief that homosexuality and abortion are immoral they are “intolerant.” They are not entitled to their own personal belief? Just want to be sure I’m clear on this?

      • (I’m not sure if the reply structure is working on this)

        If a person holds a personal belief that homosexuality is, inherently, wrong and that their presence in a full and equal society should not be tolerated– if they are lesser human beings who do not deserve the same rights as you do?

        Yes. That is intolerant. That is the definition of intolerant. I, living my own life without personally affecting Chuck Norris, do not deserve equal protection under the law in his opinion. He is not tolerant of my sexuality.

        He is intolerant.

        That is bigotry.

        Similarly, not believing that woman deserve to have full control of their own biological processes also smacks of intolerant. This is not my area of expertise (being that I’m not a woman), but generally speaking what a person does with their own body generally ought to be their own choice. Again– it does not infringe upon Norris’ freedoms, life, property, anything. Yet he decides he should tell women they do not deserve to have control over their own body and what happens to it.

        Again, seems pretty intolerant.

      • Here’s the thing: if someone is actively involved in giving money and airtime to political movements aimed at eliminating hate speech and hate crime laws, saying that gay people have no business attending schools with straight people and other bullshit, they’re no longer personal beliefs.

        Even if this were not the case, personal beliefs aren’t sacrosanct and it’s tiring that people keep using this bullshit free speech logic to try and uphold that. It’s not a matter of a difference of opinion; it’s a matter of some straight white dude telling the government they should have the right to control my body and my sexuality.

      • “If a person holds a personal belief that homosexuality is, inherently, wrong and that their presence in a full and equal society should not be tolerated– if they are lesser human beings who do not deserve the same rights as you do?”

        If you don’t mind, I’d like to know when and where Norris stated that homosexuals should not be tolerated in a society.

        Again, I believe that if a person chooses to believe that certain things are immoral, that is their right. Again, it’s not like these are not beliefs that the majority of humanity held to for thousands of years and – in spite of the divide today – half of Americans still do.

        With all due respect, in my opinion, it is people like you are who are being intolerant.

        Perhaps it’s “acceptance” you wish for, not “tolerance.”

        But I digress. We are completely off-topic now (my fault, I know). My point was that I didn’t think Norris’s personal views should matter when it comes to endorsing a video game, and I stand by that opinion.

      • “Is encouraging or teaching about homosexuality what our forefathers expected for the public education they founded? Even the most liberal among them opposed it. For example, Thomas Jefferson drafted a bill concerning the criminal laws of Virginia, in which he proposed that the penalty for sexual deviance should be unique corporal punishment. Jefferson’s views were indeed representative of early America.

        […]

        While I’m not of course espousing such treatment, I do believe that we should equally and adamantly oppose such aberrant sexual behavior from being condoned or commemorated in our public schools through textbooks or a so-called “Day of Silence.””

        “Adamantly oppose such aberrant sexual behavior from being condoned or commemorated” is pretty fucking strong. I would say that is a failure to not just accept, but even tolerate.

        Source: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=59697

      • Heh. Opinions being the norm for a long time doesn’t necessarily make them right, and I’ll be damned if I will be tolerant of opinions that make me out to be less of a human being or somehow not deserving of basic human rights.

        OP (Apple? Cider?), commentary on this subject has actually inspired me a bit. I swear Troll Bouquet is going more social justice-y than I ever intended, but I guess that’s inevitable considering the crowd that inhabits WoW.

      • I don’t see one thing in Norris’s quotes that implies restricting homosexuals of “basic human rights.” He does state many facts, though (as I have). For some reason, many people have issues with facts today. Not sure why.

        It’s pretty simple. I oppose homosexuality (as have most people in the history of the world) and don’t want the “acceptance” of it forced upon my children. If a person wants to live that way, fine. Just don’t try to change my opinion of it when the opinion I hold is one that has been held since the beginning of time by the majority of the human race.

        • I’m not here to change your opinion. I just wonder why you’d continue to read a queer person’s blog if you dislike homosexuality. I’m going to talk about it with regards to things that go on in-game and maybe even my personal life at some point, so if you oppose it – not sure why you’d stick around. Especially since I’d wager a great deal of my reading audience is also gay or GSM. That being said, that’s your opinion to hold, but I have a feeling this is not going to go anywhere productive, nor do I wish to have people in the comments to feel uncomfortable.

          So this is probably at its logical end.

      • Don’t piss on my leg and call it rain, nor say something like that and call it “tolerance”. That is barely restrained malice. You are not tolerating my presence, you are being actively restrained by the rule of law from enacting your clear and utter revolution to the notion of my continued existence.

        If somebody gave you the ability to snap your finger and remove me and my kind from the face of this planet, would you exercise that power? Because if the answer is yes, I assure you, you are tolerating nothing of your own volition.

    • I never said that someone with differing views can’t represent a video game. That’s not what I said at all. However, what I did say is that when you use a celebrity with those views, you are allowing that celebrity to also represent your brand. Blizzard, while wishing to appear more inclusive and widespread in their market, still stumbles quite a lot in terms of said representation – in both knowing and unknowing ways I suspect. They still very much appeal to the white, straight, gamer male between the ages of 18-35 despite evidence that their audience is rapidly becoming very much not that and hasn’t been since the game’s inception.

      If you, as a company, are okay with a celebrity’s views also reflecting onto your products and business, then that’s fine. Use whatever spokesperson you want. However, let’s not shy away from what that actually means, however. I truly believe that who you have represent you in a gaming commercial includes not just their celeb status, but their publicly held opinions as well.

      Intolerance is a funny thing. I’d say that even if I did say that he couldn’t represent a video game (which I didn’t) that it’d be a lot less of a personal tragedy and intolerant than say, Conservatives lobbying to bar gay people in our country to be legally married like their heterosexual peers. Chuck Norris is, as I said, allowed to speak about and think whatever views he wants. However, if Blizzard wants to align themselves with those views, that’s where I have a problem as I give them my money and I believe those views are not things I want to support financially. Maybe they are aware of this guy’s thoughts on gays and abortion. Maybe they aren’t. This is a subject for discussion.

      And in it being a subject for discussion, I am going to discuss it. I am going to bring it to the WoW table. As I said before, I play WoW. I’m a feminist in WoW. I critique the media I see around me. Blizzard used a TV ad to bring Chuck Norris into their advertising and marketing rodeo. Chuck Norris has views I disagree with. Hence, I’m going to critique this choice of theirs. Chuck “left” his beliefs out of the commercial because it’s a video game commercial and he’s capitalizing on the stupid Chuck Norris jokes in WoW. However, he’s still a person who has those views and still blogs about them regularly. They are out there. They are not seperate from him if he’s being used as himself in a commercial. That is the point I am trying to make, if you didn’t catch it.

      I do not believe Blizzard nor Chuck Norris is bulletproof in this scenario, as literally or metaphorically as you want to take that.

      Either way, these are the sorts of things I will be talking about on this blog, Wesley, so as I see you are now following my blog entries, I figured you might want to apprised of that fact. Otherwise, you might be in for a rude and shocking awakening. This is my blog and these are the things I am going to talk about.

      • I would expect you to talk about whatever you wish on your blog. And thank you for allowing me to express my view as well. That said, I stick by it.

        Norris has opinions. I don’t think by placing him in one of their commercials Blizzard is saying to the world “Hey, we agree with everything Chuck Norris says and believes!”

        • I guess that’s where we just have to agree to disagree. I believe (and this was the crux of my article) that by placing him in a commercial as himself, his non-Blizzard-related opinions are still part of the deal, regardless. I feel that way about any celebrity endorsements and if a company uses a celebrity that I have feelings about in that way, it makes me question the company’s operating procedures or public views on their customers.

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  5. Intolerance will not be tolerated?

    I don’t know, I’m gay and I do not begrudge Norris for his views. He has his views, and I have mine. Just as Wesley above seems to not agree with your homosexuality yet enjoy your blog, I can not agree with Norris’ views yet enjoy his movies. I don’t think every last thing has to be political…

    I don’t need everyone in the world to agree with me. If they disagree, that’s fine as long as they don’t force me to do anything against my will. I’ll extend them the same courtesy. Such “live and let live” is the foundation of a free society.

    I don’t get all bent out of shape when someone says something negative about homosexuality. I think that reflects a lack of self-confidence, like christians that freak out whenever anyone anywhere says something negative about christianity. Underneath those people are probably full of doubt, which is why they can’t stand anyone disagreeing. Contrast that to someone who doesn’t care if someone somewhere is saying something negative about christianity.

    As far as advertising in particular, by having a paid spokesperson I don’t think that means you endorse any thing that person has ever said or thought, ever. The spokesperson speaks about the product, and unless they make their undesirable views a part of their pitching, or are notorious and mainly known for actively promoting bigotry, I don’t think it’s a big deal.
    I don’t know, the flip side is like a movie or TV show that my parents won’t watch, because one of the actors is a Democrat, and watching the show or going to that movie would be “supporting” those views. It’s just too much of a headache to me, and overly sensitive in my opinion.

    I don’t see how Norris is helping to legally oppress gays anyway, except maybe for the gay marriage thing. But when it comes to gay marriage, I don’t really care about it. I don’t need the government to tell me whether I’m married or not, like my marriage isn’t “real” unless I get the seal of approval from the government. There may be some legal conveniences to “marriage”, but that could just as well be done by civil union. If anything, I don’t think governments should be involved in marriage at all. Let governments issue only Civil Unions, so everyone is equal. Then leave “marriage” to churches or other institutions, as they understand it. I think everyone would be happy with that, and no ones views would be forced on anybody.

    • It’s not about agreement, Just In. It’s about corporate culture.

      Norris is a known arch-conservative who embraces the extreme right’s xenophobic party line and has, in the pasty, endorsed such movements as Glenn Beck’s hideously racist, sexist, homophobic, and religiously intolerant “9-12″ movement. (This movement, thankfully, was short-lived and Beck no longer has the media coverage in which he once reveled.)

      When a MAJOR corporation, such as Blizzard, taps celebrities to serve as spokespeople in their advertisements then that corporation is implicitly endorsing that celebrity and, by association, any attitudes and agendas that that celebrity may PUBLICLY embrace.

      Norris has actively allied himself with far-right ideologues and their ideologies. These aren’t just personal, private beliefs; these are beliefs that Norris endorses, continues to endorse, and actively promotes. Chuck’s views are so strong that they are polarizing, effectively creating two camps: those who agree with Chuck, and those who do not.

      At issue here is what the Hell Blizzard’s PR director was smoking when he decided to overlook Norris’ political baggage and tap him for this commercial. It would be no different than a company in the early 1970s tapping Jane Fonda to endorse a product; her attendant political baggage would be so divisive that it would effectively eliminate from the market those who held strongly opposing beliefs to Jane’s.

      Coupled with Blizzard’s latest flubs and past gaffs when it comes to dealing with the GLBTQ-community within WoW, the Norris commercial suggests a corporate culture that has no clue that it is seriously running afoul of a sizable portion of their player base and, more importantly, of their potential player base.

      World of Warcraft is hemorrhaging members at an alarming rate. Using a divisive figure such as Chuck Norris to endorse the game was a VERY bad move on Blizzard’s part. Chuck’s meme-generating/pop-culture appeal can not, realistically, overcome his power as a politically polarizing figure.

  6. Hey cider, they have used females on their “what’s your game” commercials before :P, one that could be perceived as offensive to males (some may debate).
    It’s the one about mining diamonds. Look it up on you tube :).

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