Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 34

the one hand, the sexualization of Lady Sylvanas and her rhetorical transformation from dominant leader to dominatrix on fan sites can be seen as participating in a generic popular culture trope of the female vampire as sexual predator, but it also can reflect a more general sexualization of minority or subaltern females as a form of “racialized sexuality”, a phenomenon discussed by JanMohamed (1992) and Mendible (2007) and summarized as a gaming trope by Anita Sarkeesian (2017). This sexualization functions as a way of undermining her identity as a powerful leader. The marginalization is reflected in the player experience, in which, during the ordinary course of game play, Sylvanas actually appears quite rarely, and players’ everyday interactions with the leadership in the fight against the demonic Burning Legion are directed by Archmage Khadgar and Illidan Stormrage, who are portrayed visually in game as white men in early middle age. Thus we can see a familiar mechanism in play in which the feminization of Horde leadership brings about a marginalization of the significance of the leader of the Horde. Unlike in earlier expansions, in which players routinely and frequently interacted with Thrall and Garrosh, who were portrayed as strongly charismatic male leaders, veneration of the considerably less prominent “dark lady” is limited to the initial transfer of leadership and a very small number of quest lines, mainly connected with player versus player combat or rewards. In light of recent rhetorical shifts in political discourse, it is pertinent to investigate the particular parallels between the rhetorical construction of these two female leaders by, on the one hand, Garrosh Hellscream, the xenophobic, arrogant, and impulsively violent Horde leader and Donald Trump, President of the United States, who demonstrates similar aggressive and impulsive rhetorical habits. The similarities in the verbal and physical conflicts between these two men and Sylvanas Windrunner and Hillary Clinton suggests that much of the dynamics of the resistance to and suspicion of Sylvanas in World of Warcraft and the negative perceptions of Hillary Clinton stem from similar misogynistic frameworks. Ultimate, Uncontested, and Charismatic Terms The academic discipline of rhetoric provides an historical framework for understanding the symbolic and persuasive character of leadership, legitimacy, and authority. Rhetorical theory originated in ancient Greece as a discipline focused on analysis of persuasion with rhetoricians especially concerned about the rise of populism and demagoguery in the Athenian democracy and how certain persuasive techniques could be misleading or unethical. While often focused on informal logic and argumentative validity, rhetoricians since the time of Aristotle 34