Thursday, June 5, 2008

Revisiting Night Elf lore and culture

I got such great responses from Andrew and Cynra to my post on night elf culture that I really felt I wanted to follow up with a 'response' post as it were.

I'd like to clarify my position. I wasn't arguing that elves aren't presented as namby pamby anywhere but specifically that, (in my opinion) elves are not presented as namby pamby in Tolkien and Warcraft. I guess as sub-text to that I consider Tolkien's work as seminal in regards to how elves are presented in fantasy fiction - for the most part.

Yes there are a lot of people whose perception of elves is that they are 'light as thistle down' airy-fairy types.

I don't think these people know anything much about celtic mythology or read much fantasy fiction. I do think they probably have seen quite a lot of Disney though.

As regards comments on Faerie, I almost included a whole section on the Tuatha De Danaan in my last post (often referred to as the Sidhe, which is the name for the barrows they agreed to inhabit but not originally of the folk themselves) but the post was becoming quite an essay. I'd argue, as Cynra does, that the Sidhe are not at all benevolent or child-like. Disney AGAIN. 'Popular culture' tends to 'sanitise' mythology. Look at fairy-tales for instance, the tale of Red Riding Hood is at it's root the story of a girl's journey to womanhood (ie menustration) - but over time has been diluted to it's present form. I'd argue that the same thing has happened to fairies. I could get a little more 'I was a humanities student' and argue that the main sanitising factor in western culture is the Church - to increase it's relevance and power it devalues and dilutes alternative values and beliefs. But I won't because this is a blog about Warcraft not cultural theory and I would have to get seriously academic on you all and riddle this post with citations and a biblography and I've got motes of water to farm! Heh.

Suffice it to say, I firmly believe that the lore within the game does not by intention present night elves in the mold of 'Disney' and that it is instead, the perception of players and their interpretation of elves through the filter of western culture that interprets them as such.


typhoonandrew said...

Just harder for me to argue with that - now that we're being reasonable. Sheesh.

Jezrael said...

Heh. I thought I was making some fairly provocative statements there ;)

Cynra said...

Miss Jez, reasonable? Surely you jest!