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Friday, May 2, 2014

World of Warcraft 's Leeroy Jenkins & Black American Names & Memes

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents my opinions about the Black memes used in the naming & characterization of the World of Warcraft character "Leeroy Jenkins". I consider this post as Part II in a series of the perception that "Leroy" is a Black American name.

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/05/jimmy-castor-bunch-hey-leroy-your-mama.html for Part I of this series. That post presents comments about that subject as well as information about and examples of the songs about Leroy - Jimmy Castor Bunch's "Hey Leroy (Your Mama's Calling You)" and Jim Croce's "Bad Bad Leroy Brown".

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and sociological purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of the video that is featured in this post.

DISCLAIMER
I am not now nor have I ever been a World of Warcraft player. Although Google search had the tag "Is Leeroy Jenkins Black" prior to my typing it, I didn't find any discussion of that topic online. I'd love to "hear" from other folks about this subject.

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INFORMATION ABOUT "LEEROY JENKINS"
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leeroy_Jenkins
"Leeroy Jenkins, often elongated with numerous additional letters, is an internet meme named for a player character created by Ben Schulz in Blizzard Entertainment's MMORPG, World of Warcraft. The character became popular due to a video of the game that circulated on the internet. The phenomenon has since spread beyond the boundaries of the gaming community into other on-line and main-stream media...

The video was released by the World of Warcraft player guild "PALS FOR LIFE". It features a group of players discussing a detailed battle strategy for the next encounter while one of their party members, Leeroy, is away from his computer. Their risky plan is needed specifically to help Leeroy, yet is ruined when Leeroy returns and, ignorant of the strategy, immediately charges headlong into battle shouting his own name in a stylized battle cry. His companions rush to help, but Leeroy's actions ruin the meticulous plan, and all of the group members are killed.
Upper Deck Entertainment released a World of Warcraft Miniatures game in late 2008, which included a Leeroy Jenkins figurine. As a reference to Leeroy's famous claim, the figure is seen holding a chicken leg in his left hand.[6]

Blizzard named a card after Leeroy Jenkins in their popular online card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. When entering the battlefield, Leeroy gives his famous battlecry. While attacking, he says "Time's up, let's do this!" And when he dies, he says, "At least I have chicken."...

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From http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/leeroy-jenkins

The video was first uploaded to World of Warcraft fansite Warcraft Movies[13] on May 11th, 2005.

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From http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LeeroyJenkins
"The Leeroy Jenkins (or just Leeroy for short) is a specific type of Noob who has no patience for complicated plans, preferring to charge full-tilt into the fray and start attacking whatever's in front of him...

"Stop being such a Leeroy" has become multiplayer jargon in the time since, and it's sometimes used as a verb "to Leeroy" meaning to act in this way. Ironically, the original staged video can be seen as sympathetic towards Leeroy in that it also mocks and parodies excessive planning in parties"...
-snip-
Added May 23, 2015
I just realized that the last name of the World of Warcraft character "Leeroy Jenkins" is the same last name as the Martin television show character "Sheneneh Jenkins". Sheneneh is portrayed by Martin Lawrence as a stereotypical "ghetto" Black woman. The choice of that last name was probably not accidental. The fact that Leeroy has the same name as Sheneneh was probably meant to emphasize that Leeroy was meant to represent a stereotypical "ghetto" Black man.

Click for a pancocojams post on the Martin television character "Sheneneh".

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Know Your Meme: Leeroy Jenkins



KnowYourMeme, Uploaded on May 19, 2011

Know Your Meme scientist Patrick revisits "Leeeeeeeeeeerooooy Jenkinnnnns!", a popular catchphrase first screamed by a World of Warcraft player of the same name, just before ignorantly charging headlong into battle and ruining his group's carefully laid out plans
-snip-
Also, read this urban dictionary entry for an expansion in the use of the "Leeroy Jenkins" cry.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=leroy+jenkins&page=2
"Leroy Jenkins
Something you yell loudly before doing something epic. Works especially well in sports or video games, because in sports it helps you run faster. You have to say LETS DO THIS as you're going for it, and then say LEEEEERRRRROOYYYYY...JEEEEENNNKINNNNNS as you're doing it.

*Note, in all of these examples below, yellingLETS DO THIS, LEEEEERRRRROOYYYYY...JEEEEENNNKINNNNNS resulted in epic laughter from everyone in the vicinity.

Leroy Jenkins Situations:

1. Yesterday in PE volleyball, I jumped to spike the ball. As I jumped, I yelled, LETS DO THIS, LEEEEERRRRROOYYYYY...JEEEEENNNKINNNNNS!

2. During a 100 meter dash, at the very end, I yelled, LETS DO THIS, LEEEEERRRRROOYYYYY...JEEEEENNNKINNNNNS! And I won.

3. During lacrosse, as I sprinted towards the enemy goalie and jumped in the air to shoot, I yelled LETS DO THIS, LEEEEERRRRROOYYYYY...JEEEEENNNKINNNNNS"...
by Shaolin Masta February 26, 2009

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THREE REASONS WHY I THINK THAT THE NAME & THE CHARACTERIZATION OF "LEEROY JENKINS" REFLECTS BLACK AMERICAN
MEMES
I. In my opinion, "Leroy" -particularly as it is pronounced with elongated vowels-is perceived as a Black male name.

Read more about why I have this opinion in Part I of this series.

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2. In the United States, the name "Jenkins" is more frequently found as a Black name than a White name.
From http://names.mongabay.com/data/black.html
Source: 2000 U.S. Census, Genealogy Data
Name Rank Number of occurrences Overall U.S. rank for all races
JENKINS 44 76881 95

From http://names.mongabay.com/data/white.html
Name Rank Number of occurrences - Overall U.S. rank for all races
104 JENKINS 128499 95

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3. Leeroy Jenkins' characterization evokes the Black people and fried chicken meme.
Jenkins misses the battle strategy session because he's cooking chicken. When he arrives at the battle, he's holding a piece of chicken. And when he dies, he says "At least I have chicken." I believe those references to chicken, combined with the character's first and last name evokes the racialized meme of African Americans and fried chicken.

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-story-behind-stereotype-of-black.html for a pancocojams post about the stereotype of African Americans (or Black people in general) affection for fried chicken.

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SUMMATION
As I mentioned in my disclaimer I'm not a World of Warcraft player. I've never seen a depiction of Leeroy Jones as a Black man. However, I believe that figure's name and the way he is characterized serve as examples of how Black racial memes can be used without the character being drawn or otherwise depicted as a Black man. While I don't think this depiction is necessarily racist, I do think that it can be problematic. And I would be surprised if the Leeroy Jenkins meme hasn't contributed to a decrease in the selection of the name "Leroy" as a personal name for Black people and non-Black people in the United States and elsewhere.

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2 comments:

  1. You would be correct.
    The name and persona were invented by a white guy looking to amuse his white friends with ethnic stereotypes.

    http://www.westword.com/news/the-legend-of-leeroy-jenkins-5091880
    "One forty-ounce-malt-liquor-fueled night when he was getting his electrical-engineering degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Ben and his friends decided to create the most culturally inappropriate character names imaginable for a bunch of white guys playing video games. Out of Ben's inebriated mouth tumbled "Leeroy Jenkins," a moniker so amusing that he decided to use it for his characters in assorted games -- and, ultimately, World of Warcraft."

    Indeed, while the character has largely been white-washed in Blizzard's official media (representing him as a gung-ho white man), the original character design shows that the player chose a dark-skinned model for Leeroy: http://i.imgur.com/bNUibvY.png

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