Trigger warning: ableism discussion and terms.
The first Patch 5.4 notes and PTR came out this week and with it, all the fervor over our first real peek at the content that’s been talked up since Pandaria came out. People have been going gaga over set bonuses, new boss models, but what caught my eye was something way less exciting – a battle pet. Originally when I saw listed that there was a Moon Moon pet dragged out of the datamined content files, I thought it was just something stuck there that wouldn’t have anything meaningful around it. Contrary to my belief, Moon Moon is a pet dropping from a new Darkmoon Faire boss and will most definitely be in Patch 5.4. This has me pretty annoyed, if you could guess from the title of my blog post.
Moon Moon is a reference to this meme that got started on Tumblr. It is yet another meme that capitalizes on the mental differences of someone, with a host of veiled ableist insults and terminology. What is ableism? It’s specifically discriminatory actions and language towards someone’s physical or mental disabilities. Ableism usually and casually often occurs to making fun of people with learning disabilities or being on the autism spectrum (“spergin’” “retard/ed”), or for mental illness (“crazy”/”schizo”/”bipolar”/”hysterical”), and physical disabilities (“crip/cripple”, “spaz/spastic”, etc.) or using those terms against others as a negative.
Given that the person who started it all said that Moon Moon would be the “most retarded wolf”, it’s not surprising that everything else has followed suit. Memes, due to nerd culture in general, really like to constantly revolve around this sort of everyperson (or animal) that has speech impediments or some sort of mental “slowness.” It’s gotten so casual to the point that most people don’t realize that it IS insulting, but the reason these jokes proliferate is because denigrating people’s mental capacity has always been a trope for humor, because people consider themselves “better” than others for that reason. It’s hurtful, in short, but very few nerds really care.
Since Blizzard has a really inconsistent policy on including meme fodder in their game (Nom Nom Nom as a druid talent got scrapped, but we have this, plus look at how many Slapchop references there are), the fact that they felt it necessary to make a battle pet (as well as a raid boss, really) dedicated to a fairly recent, insulting meme is frustrating to me. Meme culture is persistent but often long after it is actually funny, on top of the fact that a lot of them are generally offensive in some way. Did we need this? Not really. I’m sure this is considered by some to be a very petty gripe, but popular culture making its way into World of Warcraft doesn’t always mean it is good.