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“Time is Money, Friend”: Anti-Semitic Representations
Encounter Anti-Jewish Structures of Feeling in Videogame
World-Building


Journal: Critical Studies in Media Communication
Manuscript ID: RCSM-2014-Jul-0005
Manuscript Category: Original Article
Keywords: Videogames, anti-Semitism, Fantasy, History, Remix



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“Time is Money, Friend”: Anti-Semitic Representations Encounter Anti-Jewish
Structures of Feeling in Videogame World-Building


At a recent conference panel on Jews and Hollywood, historians and
documentarians participated in a vigorous debate about histories of anti-Semitism in
media production, specifically in the 1930s and 1940s. Media historians have been
turning critical eyes on the role of anti-Semitism in film and broadcasting during the first
half of the twentieth century, thereby uncovering historically contingent anti-Semitic
practices of media producers, distributors, and consumers, as well as the ways in which
these practices embedded anti-Semitism into institutions and their routines.
Building on these and other conversations (Gilman & Katz, 1993), this paper
looks at how traces of anti-Semitic structures of feeling,
1
which originate in one historical
moment, are re-animated when anti-Semitic representations in the massively multiplayer
online game World of Warcraft encounter anti-Jewish structures of feeling among
participants in its online cultures. Addressing the unique ways that new media like
MMOs re-animate and amplify anti-Jewish structures of feeling in and around game
spaces, this essay enhances conversations in new media studies about sexism, racism, and
homophobia in online environments (Daniels, 1997, 2009; Higgin, 2009; Nakamura,
Chow-White, & Nelson, 2011; Nakamura, 2002, 2007; Sperb, 2013; Tu, Nelson, &
Hines, 2001). We argue that fantasy-based MMOs like World of Warcraft mobilize
representations of Jews as explanatory frameworks for the rapaciousness of capitalism
within the game itself, representations that are re-affirmed and reinforced through the

1
We understand structures of feeling following Raymond Williams’ definition: as “characteristic elements
of impulse, restraint, and tone; specifically affective elements of consciousness and relationships: not
feeling against thought, but thought as felt and feeling as thought: practical concsiouenss of a present kind,
in a living and inter-relating continuity” (1977: 132).
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combustible anti-Jewish sentiments of gamers, Redditers, and Wikipedians.
Our sense of anti-Jewish structures of feeling begins with a division between
contemporary anti-Jewish sentiments and historical formations of anti-Semitism. Like
Gilman and Katz, we understand anti-Semitism as referring to a specific period, between
the 1880s and the end of World War II. Our analysis combines Hall’s notion of an
“inventory of discourses” with Horkheimer and Adorno’s (2007) argument that the
paranoia encased within anti-Jewish structures of feeling, which are in turn embedded in
mass communication and its commodities, function as a post-Holocaust “reservoir of
understanding” for making sense of global capitalism in an age without anti-Semites.
The following analysis is divided into three sections. First, it explores the
relationship between anti-Semitic representations and re-animated expressions of anti-
Jewish sentiment: between the literary representations that embed anti-Semitism into the
narrative structure of the genre of high fantasy, and participatory cultures that reproduce
those tropes in their apprehension of, and participation in, World of Warcraft (WoW from
here forward). Second, we consider the contradictory nature of the relationships between
Blizzard’s reproduction of anti-Semitic renderings of hook-nosed, greedy failed usurers,
and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that cast WoW as a technology for global control
formulated by Jewish shadow agents. Ultimately, we argue that attention to the meanings
encoded in new media spaces like high-fantasy based games, and the communities their
players are embedded in, reveal the multiple ways that structures of feeling grounded in
long histories of anti-Semitism continue to do unique cultural work following economic
crises – work that is obscured both by the new amplificatory and multimodal nature of
new media, and the confusingly muddled political location of anti-Jewish ideologies
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within a broader field of discourses of racism and discrimination.

One Jew to Rule Them All: Literary Legacies of Anti-Semitism

With its roots in Norse and other Teutonic folkloric traditions, in the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries, high fantasy has been a favored genre for white supremacist
imaginings of alternative worlds. Anti-Semitism was a part of the inventory of
discourses, to use Stuart Hall’s (1984) phrase, that high fantasy literature of the 1920s
and 1930s in Europe borrowed from. The fascist response to modernity and its crises and
discontents sought validation in the folkish virtues of some bucolic past, where whiteness
reigned unchallenged and white, or “Northern” culture existed in some pure, untainted
form.
Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm’s Household Tales (Grimm & Grimm, 1812/2004), a
volume whose popularity surged in the 1880s along with anti-Jewish ideologies and
practices, provides a significant example of this.
2
As cultural critic Maria Tatar points
out, “the Nazis saw in the Grimm’s cultural ideals an antidote to the evils of modernism”
(Tatar, 2003, p. xx) In stories later deleted from printed collections of the Grimms’ Tales
after World War II, like “The Jew Among the Thorns” and “The Good Bargain,” the
grammar of anti-Semitism that later generations of writers and artists would draw upon is
clearly laid out. As Ruth Bottigheimer observes of these stories, “Work and money,
censure and punishment join in the figure of the Jew.” (Bottigheimer, 1989, p. 123)
Against the economically devastated backdrop of early nineteenth century Germany,
Jews had “all have money in the Grimms’ tales, and because money automatically places

2
See Ruth B. Bottigheimer’s “The Publishing History of Grimms’ Tales: Reception at the Cash
Register,” where she documents the increase in sales of the Grimms’ Tales in the three decades
between 1914 and 1945.
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one in the position of ‘master,’ all Jews also play the role of master, rather than servant.”
(Joseph, 1994, p. 12)
While financial reward is considered a virtue, representations of Jews underscored
their lack of fitness for economic control. The Jew in Grimms’ “The Jew Among the
Thorns,” for example, is, as Joseph points out, “not a young strapping man” like the
servant he encounters on the road, but “a stooped, wizened old man who does not radiate
good health.”(Joseph, 1994, p. 23) Jews are invariably misshapen, elderly or otherwise
sickly creatures, whose external appearance reflects inner greed and malevolence. They
love money above anything else and they acquire their wealth by swindling non-Jews.
Masculinity and ethnicity combine in the figure of the Jew whose power resides not in
the characteristics typically privileged by northern European masculinity (e.g. virility,
honor, and whiteness), but in his actuarial prowess and resultant, near-supernatural
control over gold.
These tropes, of course, were not specific to either the early nineteenth century
when the Grimms were collecting their tales, or the post-World War I period during
which the popularity of the Grimms’ tales surged among fascist sympathizers. These
tropes also found their way into the work of high fantasy authors like H.P. Lovecraft,
3

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. We are not arguing that the cultural producers we are
discussing (whether writers, filmmakers, or game designers) are themselves anti-Semitic
or anti-Jewish. Instead, we are arguing that these and later cultural producers –
intentionally or unintentionally – used and re-purposed anti-Jewish structures of feeling

3
Lovecraft is distinct from these other two authors in the ways his fantasy worlds are bound up in
tropes typically found at the intersections of science fiction and horror. Despite this, Lovecraft
mobilizes the representations of a “hooked nose evil,” which represented his beliefs that Jews were
the "product of alien blood, and inherit alien ideals, impulses, and emotions which forever preclude
the possibility of wholesale assimilation.”
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in the worlds they built. While, for example, Tolkien and Lewis may have shared anti-
Fascist politics, like other cultural producers of their time, they drew from an inventory of
discourses delineated by the anti-Semitism so prevalent in inter-war England (Werber,
2005).
While the openly racist and anti-Semitic Lovecraft wrote horror and science
fiction, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis drew on medieval folkloric traditions for the
fantasies they built -- fantasy worlds protected by white Germanic men (elves, princes,
and even the humble hobbit) and threatened by dark, slavering barbarians whose racial or
ethnic markings were visible symbols of their evil natures. These anti-Semitic imaginings
were shaped by gender. High fantasy has been a staging ground for the apocalyptic
struggle between the forces of light (white supremacist versions of masculinity) and the
forces of dark (racialized masculinities considered subaltern to the northern European
ideal).
Tolkien’s Middle Earth contains hierarchies of whiteness, but the border between
good and evil manifests itself in binary – black and white – forms of masculinities. The
Lord of the Rings features few women on the side of good, no non-white women on
either side, and, despite numerous savior roles, non-white characters are relegated to the
side of evil. Hobbits might be small and hairy of foot, but they are clearly white. Dwarfs
stand as liminal figures: they are potentially redeemable, but their avaricious pursuit of
gems under the Lonely Mountain twice causes the devastation of the human town of
Dale. Whiteness is not only the representational default in fantasy, but it is also evidence
of transcendence and godliness, as in Gandalf’s conversion to a spectacular expression of
whiteness after his epic battle with the balrog in Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring
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(1954/2012) and Faramir and Eowyn’s white celebration of heteronormativity in the
houses of healing in The Return of the King (1955/2012).
C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicle of Narnia series is more openly grounded in
Christianity, with its leonine Jesus and his symbolic crucifixion in the The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe at the hands of the White Witch. For all her whiteness, the
Witch is a fully Semitic demon. Mr. Beaver tells the children, “she’s no Daughter of Eve.
She comes from your father Adam’s . . . first wife, her they called Lilith. And she was
one of the Jinn” (2001: 81). The White Witch is, in short, the doubly Semitic product of
Lilith, a figure from Jewish mythology (in some accounts, Adam’s first wife, who refused
to be subservient) and the Jinn, an invisible class of creatures from Islamic mythology.
Mr. Beaver’s theological explanation intersects with representations of witches, which
shares in the large-nosed visual rhetoric used for representing Jews.
The goblin is among the most consistent vehicles for anti-Jewish representations
across fantasy and folklore. Tolkien adopted the word “orc,” for example, from Beowulf,
where the word is used to refer to the offspring of Cain (Carpenter, 1981, p. 144). In the
white supremacist theological movements that originated in the eighteenth century, The
Serpent Seed Doctrine (Brother Branham, 1958) argued that Jews, the sons of Cain, are a
lineage that begins with the sexual relation between Eve and Satan in his Edenic serpent
form. The Serpent Seed Doctrine argued that Jews traced their lineage to Cain, who
himself was the unholy offspring of Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden’s sexual
communication (Fortson, 2011).
More recently, J.K. Rowling’s first book in the popular Harry Potter series, Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, described Harry Potter’s encounter with the goblins of
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Gringotts in the following terms: “The goblin was about a head shorter than Harry. He
had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard and, Harry noticed, very long fingers and
feet” (1998: 72). In control of the gold of the magical world, the goblins conduct business
in Gringotts, an enormous bank, in which “About a hundred more goblins were sitting on
high stools behind a long counter, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass
scales, examining precious stones through eyeglasses” (73). The first goblin Harry
encounters is Griphook (whose indexical name conjoins greediness with a reference to
his physiognomy), a goblin whose greed causes him to betray Harry and his allies in
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007: 541). Mercenary, usurious, unforgiving
hoarders of wealth, in the literary and cinematic Harry Potter universe goblins are
rendered through sets of physical and behavioral aspects historically associated with
Jews.
Worlds of high fantasy that evoke these histories of anti-Semitism are the most
popular realms of world-building transmedia, from the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
films to massively multiplayer games like Lord of the Rings Online to WoW and Guild
Wars. White warriors and greedy Jews litter these transmedia fantasy landscapes, with
cultural producers drawing on an inventory of discourses that recognizes and employs a
traditional aesthetics of evil, but ignores the political implications of these
representations. What separates the early twentieth-first century version of this racial
project from previous iterations is the participatory nature of new media, and media
industries’ profit-driven recognition of the endlessly lucrative potential of fan
communities with deep historical attachments to these genres.
As the next section demonstrates, the videogame industry has played a
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particularly illuminating role in re-animating anti-Semitism in elements of game design.
What is new about the anti-Jewish sentiment in MMOs like WoW is the means for
distributing anti-Semitic representations and the structures of feeling that surround them,
while the representations and arguments mobilized to explain narrative elements remain
dependent upon historical forms of anti-Semitism. To paraphrase Pierre-André Taguieff,
anti-Jewish structures of feeling in WoW answer the demand for meaning in the shadows,
and within the aftermath, of economic and nationalist crises.

“Let’s Make Sweet, Sweet Profit Together”

The field of game studies, as well as the progressive sectors of the blogosphere,
4
include
active discussions of the racial dimensions of videogames. Lisa Nakamura’s work
(Nakamura, 2012) has extensively detailed how race functions across a range of online
and game spaces. Tanner Higgin (2009) discusses both the increasing absence of black
characters in “Blackless Fantasy: The Disappearance of Race in MMORPGS” and
technologies of racial representation in videogames, have been highlighted in an National
Public Radio discussion of race in WoW (Demby, n.d.). In the Warcraft universe, the
design of “races” has long relied on morphological racial and ethnic stereotypes mapped
onto beings with specific powers or “racial” traits. Race and ethnicity are attributed to
these beings through character design (trolls, for example, “spawn” or originate in a
Caribbean-themed area of the game, Darkspear Isle); through sound (trolls have Jamaican
accents), and through “passive troll racial traits” like “da voodoo shuffle” -- an ability
that allows trolls to “shuffle” inhibiting effects like paralysis or sadness. Goblins’

4
See blogs like Borderhouse (http://borderhouseblog.com/), Native Appropriations
(http://nativeappropriations.com/),, NewBlackMan (in exile) (http://newblackman.blogspot.com/),
and Racialicious (http://www.racialicious.com/).
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Jewishness is marked not only by their Brooklyn accents, but by their constant chatter
about money: “Time is money, friend!” “What part of time is money don’t you
understand?” “Let’s make sweet, sweet profit together.”
Goblins in WoW originally appeared in the game only as nonplayer characters
(NPCs),
5
who exhibited many of the characteristics anti-Semitic structures of feeling
historically ascribed to Jews.
6
In their earliest appearance in Warcraft II in 1995, goblins
figured as large-nosed businessmen, enamored with gold, who controlled technology and
thus the means of production. Where other races in the game display spiritual and
religious tendencies associated with racial stereotypes, the game’s lore posits goblins as
gold-worshipping merchants who are “shrewd in business,” “cunning,” and willing to sell
kith and kin into slavery in order to turn a quick buck (as they do in the game expansion
Cataclysm, when goblins fleeing a volcanic eruption are sold into slavery by other
goblins pretending to help them escape). As the opening sequence to the goblin storyline
points out, goblins’ over-extraction of minerals forced them to turn to other modes of
creating additional surplus value: acting as informants, arms dealers, slave traders, and
“corrupt trade princes.”
Sound plays an important role in establishing the Jewishness of WoW’s goblins.
NPCs speak with New York accents, generally about money-related issues: “Cha-ching,”
“Have I got a deal for you!” “I ain’t getting paid to chat,” “Can I lighten that coin purse
for you?” “What part of time is money don’t you understand?” As Sander Gilman points
out in his analysis of the stereotype of American Jews as “smart,” contemporary media

5
Non-Player Characters are individuals in story lines and interactive worlds that players interact
with, but who are not controlled by individual players; their actions are the product of prescribed
algorithms that define the racial dimensions of their interaction.
6
Also structures a relationship and interaction with jew/goblins that evoke anti-Semitic structures
of feeling, intepellating players as themselves jew h8rs.
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assumes that “All Jews are smart or at least clever,” that “All Jews are from New York. . .
Unless they are from Los Angeles, in which case they are movie producers (who must
nevertheless speak with New York accents to demonstrate their New York-Jewish roots)”
(Gilman, 1996, pp. 189–190).
These stereotypes of Jews were amplified after the 2009 release of Cataclysm, the
third expansion released for the game, when goblins became a race of playable
characters. Cataclysm featured Goblins as a playable race of beings in familiar terms --
they are “crafty,” “cunning,” and “shrewd,” beings whose inventions would, in the
Blizzard’s own language “help them rule the world -- or at least own a profitable
percentage of it” (“Goblin,” http://us.battle.net/wow/en/game/race/goblin). Although they
have sworn allegiance to the Horde faction, the goblins are represented at being faithful
only to the pursuit of individual profit.
Game play is also structured by these discourses. The Uldum quest chain notably
revolves around the collection of “ancient texts and treasures” in desert spaces evocative
of Israel, and names like Tol’vir and Vir’naal that visibly resemble English
transliterations of Hebrew words. In Tol’vir, a location name that closely resembles Tel
Aviv when written in Hebrew, players can unlock the achievement “Hebrew Jeebies,”
discussion of which has been shut down on the World of Warcraft Forums. The quest that
begins this set of breadcrumb quests
7
is entitled “Easy Money,” with the NPC quest giver
remarking that “the ancient region of Uldum has been exposed! Treasure beyond your
wildest dreams, free for the taking!” Perhaps the most relevant set of quests in Uldum for
the purpose of this analysis revolve around a plot spun from the fabric of Indiana Jones

7
A breadcrumb quest involves a linked sequence of quests that must be completed in a linear order.
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and the Temple of Doom (1984). In this quest, the player aids Harrison Jones, an NPC, in
raiding “archaic” temples -- temples threatened by Commander Schnottz and “Der
Furrier.” Schnottz draws on a litany of Nazi stereotypes, from Hitler as represented in the
2009 movie Inglorious Bastards, to the tomb-raiding Oberst Herman Dietrich from
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of Lost Ark (1981). In the mission series, the player
accompanies Harrison Jones as he seeks out the Coffer of Promise, a prehistoric artifact
that Schnottz, Gobbles, and Deathwing will use to “wipe the ‘failed’ words and reform
them into the original state.” (http://wowpedia.org/Coffer_of_Promise). The Coffer refers
to the Ark of the Covenant, used by Moses to part the Red Sea and by the Israelites to
bring down the Walls of Jericho.
In these and other ways, WoW mobilizes literary and generic legacies of anti-
Semitism (much as it does with other racial representations in the game) as the context
for the game and its mechanics. These representations, in turn, position players of all
character races in such a way that they are forced to use the interactional language of
anti-Semitism to engage with the game. Thus, the goblins force players to inhabit
racialized traits evocative of a history of anti-Semitism. As WolfySnackrib666 (2013)
commented on a YouTube video about WoW as a Jewish conspiracy (Figure 1):








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Anti-Semitism Meets Gamer Cultures


In Figure 2, “Chet Harper” commented on satirical conspiracy YouTube video that poked
fun at anti-Jewish conspiracy theories by claiming to find snowflakes that formed a Star
of David in the opening scene of WoW’s 2007 expansion Wrath of the Lich King:
For reasons unknown, and it is proven in the opening login page for World of
Warcraft. Please note this one snowflake -- no I did not photoshop that in there,
but it looks like the Star of David. Check it out. Check out the fact that there are
no other snowflakes . . . . Blizzard -- Jewish conspiracy? Let’s take a look at some
disturbing facts…(“Blizzard - A Jewish Conspiracy?,” n.d.)

“Chet Harper,” like successive commenters who had apparently not understood the
video’s satiric intent, drew upon an immediately available anti-Jewish structure of
feeling, re-animating “the affective elements of consciousness and relations” (Williams,
132) that have existed historically to explain the economic causes of a crisis-prone
capitalist mode of production.
This example points to the contradictory nature of the anti-Jewish structures of
feeling that operates in and around WoW. That is, how can WoW be product and
productive of anti-Semitism in its representations, while at the same time the game itself
is understood by participants in online cultures as a conspiratorial technology for the
Jewish global domination of good, white, Christian nations? In order to address this
question, in this section, we turn to the role played by anti-Jewish structures of feeling
that circulate outside the game world itself. Here we borrow the theoretical framework of
the cultural logic of the remix, albeit in a much different way than Lessig (2009) and
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Manovich (“Remix Theory » Archivio » WHAT COMES AFTER REMIX?,” n.d.) use it:
“Although precedents of remixing can be found earlier, it was the introduction of multi-
track mixers that made remixing a standard practice [in music]… gradually the term
became more and more broad, today referring to any reworking of already existing
cultural works” (Manovich). While Lessig and Manovich use variations on the notion of
remix as it functions neutrally or positively, we follow the work of Jason Sperb (2013) in
focusing on the negative elements of remixing. We understand remixing as the ability
exercised by white supremacists, anti-Jewish activists, and groups like Men’s Rights
activists to abstract cultural signifiers of power from their historical and social contexts
and reorder them in new and ‘creative’ ways. In so doing, they reinsert old forms of
discrimination into new historical contexts.
In the case of an online game like WoW, symbols are doubly remixed in a noxious
brew, drawing from both nineteenth German Romanticist fairytale descriptions of “the
Jews” as described above and twentieth century crises in capitalism. Historians agree that
the interwar period in the twentieth century United States, which coincided with the Great
Depression, was the most intensely anti-Semitic era in US history (e.g. (Chesler, 2005).
Perhaps the most reprehensible, institutionalized form of (resurgent) anti-Semitism was
the re-distribution of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Originally published in Russia
in 1903, the Protocols were hoax “minutes” from a secret council meeting wherein an
international Jewish conspiracy to enslave mankind was said to have been formalized.
The 1920 redistribution of the Protocols was facilitated by Henry Ford, who used both
his ownership of the Dearborn Independent and his status as America’s foremost
capitalist to inform the US public of this Jewish conspiracy, which he identified as “the
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world’s foremost problem.”
8
Although the Protocols did not contain any reference to the
entertainment industry, the Dearborn Independent’s series after its publication of the
protocols emphasized that media were primary channels of Jewish cultural domination of
the white races.
9

Ford shared these conspiracy theories about the entertainment industry with others
in media industries who had the ability to promulgate those theories via powerful media
channels. In a New York Times article on 4 August 1920 about copyright disputes among
Tin Pan Alley publishers, the “mainstream” press of the day created its own moral panic
regarding a Jewish conspiracy and monopolies: “Irving Berlin, Leo Feist, and others
charged with breaking Sherman Law...SEVEN CONCERNS INVOLVED Conspiracy to
Fix Prices of Player Rolls and Control Trade, Alleged by Government.” The article goes
on to describe how Jewish publishers controlled “80 per cent of the available copyrighted
songs used by manufacturers… and fixed prices at which the records or rolls were sold to
the public." (“MUSIC PUBLISHERS SUED HERE AS TRUST,” 1920) The
entertainment industry, then, would serve as a crucial technology in the domination of,
among others, democracy-loving American capitalists.

8
In Ford’s reproduction, sections are omitted from the original that are either “distractions” from the
original focus on Jewish conspiracy, or are “so powerful a reductio ad absurdum of the entire document hat
Mr. Ford’s “literary expert” bluepenciled it entirely from his translation” (ADL 1920: 8) -- such as the mis-
dated reign of Louis XVI and career of Augusts.
9
The Dearborn Independent went on to promulgate a Jewish-inspired conspiracy exposé in spring 1920,
over the course of 91 issues of the paper. These were later compiled into a four volume set of pamphlets
popularly circulated under the headline of one of the early editions “The International Jew: The World’s
Foremost Problem.” While fears about Jewish control of the entertainment industry lurked within the
American imagination, Ford and his paper codified and publicized that suspicion as a full blown
conspiracy: “Jewish supremacy in the Theatre and Cinema” documents the ways in which Jews used
theatre to remove the moral framework through which America became the world’s foremost democracy,
and “Jewish Music becomes our National Music” purports to document the ways in which jazz was run by
Jews trying to inspire “de-evolution” through “racial collusion” between whites and blacks. These, Ford’s
writers argued, corresponded with the ninth and tenth protocols, despite neither protocol mentioning media.
9

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As Leonard Dinnerstein points out, it was possible in the years leading up to
World War II to both hate Hitler and be anti-Semitic, particularly in the US: “Although
Hitler may have been unpopular in the United States, his views of Jews were not”
(Gilman & Katz, 1993, p. 219). Opponents of Franklin Delano Roosevelt referred to his
program as “the Jew Deal,” Father Coughlin took to the air to make pronouncements like
"When we get through with the Jews in America, they'll think the treatment they received
in Germany was nothing,” and businessmen felt comfortable being quoted as saying,
“The Jews are the cause of all our troubles in this country and I wish that every one of
them could be deported” (quoted in Dinnerstein: 219). Notorious anti-Semite Elizabeth
Dilling, who compiled the blacklists that would be used to target Jews in Hollywood,
government, and education, dismissed news of Nazi atrocities as being “so far-fetched as
to be ridiculous.” (quoted in Gleason, 1997, pp. 90–91)
Taken together, these examples highlight the structure of feeling that existed
during the inter-war period -- one in which anti-Semitism served as the explanatory
framework for the crisis in global capitalism. Ford, Dilling, and others displaced the
organized circuitry of capitalism and its crisis-prone tendencies onto the usurious
practices of Jews. Fears experienced by Depression-era workers and middle-class citizens
were transformed into an irrational hatred of Jews. One worker told an interviewer, “I
don’t know what’s the matter with me, but I hate the sight of a Jew. They control the
money of the United States” (quoted in Dinnerstein, 219).
Recent technological transformations in mass communication -- namely, the rise
of the internet as a sphere of dissemination and social interaction -- have given the
Protocols and the ideologies they promoted new life, as myriad examples from two
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specific crises in US capitalism (the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the market
collapse of 2008) illustrate. Multiple forums dedicated to white pride and 9/11 conspiracy
theories re-circulated, reconfigured, and amplified the articulation of 9/11 and the
Protocols on 26 December 2001, republishing a “news” story form WorldNetDaily,
entitled “Police State USA: Power Grab at Interior Department.” According to this story,
and echoed by the early white supremacist blogs that published it,
In the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon,
certain parties… are using the nation’s heightened concern about conspiracy to
advance a long-standing agenda… We are getting closer every day to the absolute
dictatorship envisioned by the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. (Foster,
2001)

If 9/11 re-animated anti-Jewish structures of feeling as conspiracy theories, as well as
renewed interest in the Protocols and Elizabeth Dilling’s The Octopus, the economic
crash seven years later further invigorated online anti-Jewish discourses. PressTV
financial analyst Joachim Martillo argued, “There is an intimate connection between the
collapse of the financial system, both in the United States and worldwide, and US
international policy and its manipulation by a class of hyper-wealthy Jewish Zionists.”
(Zionists behind US financial collapse, 2012) In 2011, Glenn Beck joined this anti-Jewish
chorus on multiple occasions, perhaps the most egregious being his accusations of
currency manipulation against George Soros, on the basis that “he’s got disturbing hair
and his nose [sic].” Puppet master, unscrupulous banker, bloodsucker: following the
financial collapse, anti-Jewish sentiment was part of the air that internet denizens were
breathing. In a contradictory ideological move, Jews like George Soros and Allen
Greenspan were at once understood to be capitalist masterminds and saviors of free
market capitalism, while at the same time, Jews like Bernie Madoff are considered
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immoral criminals, whose greed caused catastrophic economic failures.
10

The participatory anti-Jewish sentiment on the internet differs radically from the
unidirectionality of broadcast anti-Semitism. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, a person can
talk into the speaker of the radio, but no one will hear you on the other side. Radio
listeners, in short, are called listeners for a reason (1979).
11
In the new media realm,
information gave way to innervation (Benjamin, Jennings, Doherty, & Levin, 2008),
which in turn gave rise to amplifications: as Americans felt more and more powerless in
the face of home foreclosures, increasing unemployment, skyrocketing health care costs,
and declining wages and rising debt, they turned to timeworn anti-Jewish structures of
feeling that would aid in explaining the disastrous state of global capitalism.
The rise of the internet, the re-popularization of anti-Semitic discourses, and the
resurgence of the genre of high fantasy converged around these events and their contexts.
For example, WoW was released in 2004, but it was not until after the financial collapse
of 2008 that these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about WoW began to emerge. Only
after the financial collapse did gamers and internet users begin to bring a series of anti-
Semitic frameworks to bear in their understandings of, and conversations about, the
social function of the game. Perhaps the broadest of these frameworks ties into a wider
moral panic about the addictive nature of MMOs. In this, Jews are using virtual reality
and videogames to undermine muscular Christianity, destroy families, and thereby
tighten their control over wealth. One poster to Stormfront, an online white pride forum,

10
As Ben Urwand (2013) and Christopher Simpson (2002) have argued, capitalists as a class have
long facilitated the most heinous war crimes in history. As Urwand puts it more explicitly, some of
these capitalists were Jewish. Urwand continues that we should place these Jewish men’s status as
capitalists before their status as Jews, just as capitalist Jews did in their collaboration with Hitler. .
11
Although listeners wrote thousands of fan letters to radio and television star Gertrude Berg, for
example, these letters were not part of a public conversation with Berg and around her popular
series The Goldbergs.
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wrote,
Honestly I have been addicted to their games before, sometimes for months on
end, but they are nothing like what I have seen World of Warcraft do to people. I
have had friends literally dissapear [sic] out of my life to play this game, and I've
heard all kinds of horror stories about mothers/fathers neglecting to even feed
their kids in order to go raid. (Gondolin, 2009)

Not only was WoW intent on nothing less than the destruction of all other world
religions, it was also a scam to bilk money from hard-working, honest Christians. “If
people cancelled that WoW subscription in just three months you would have taken
$50 from these Jews,” (Accounting, 2009) one poster observed. As the Stormfront
poster whose response initiated this outpouring of anti-Semitism put it on another
thread about Lord of the Rings Online as a positive alternative to WoW: “Money is
how the Jews have controlled America, not with guns, not a large population, but
with money. Take the money away and the Jew will shrivel and die.” (Norsegal,
2009)
12

Forum discourses reanimated conspiracy theories about Jewish control of media
corporations that resembled previous anti-Semitic discourses like the Protocols, Dilling’s
The Octopus, and Ford’s International Jew (Figure 4). In one forum expounding upon the
Jewish control of the videogame industry, and its function as a mind control apparatus,
russ hook posted that “The JEW programs children at a young age to violence, and gets
them to sit on their fat arses wasting time also. It is a brilliant plan by these DEMONS.”
“If the JEWS don’t own the media,” one Stormfront poster asks, “who is brain washing
our children?” Posters like these understand the purportedly Jewish-controlled WoW as

12
A second user posted, “Unrelated Sales Pitch (sic.): Want to play an MMO staffed completely by
Whites? Try Eve Online. Their parent company is stationed in Iceland, and I’ve sat through both
Fanfest videos, and seen group pictures. Not a rotten egg amongst them.”
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intentionally destroying white Christian families.
13
As Zander Fuerza argues about
Jewish control on his site (which has been shut down since we began our research),
Most of today’s “youth” in the United States, Canada and most other Western
countries, are more concerned with their ipods, iphones, Lady Gaga, Justin
Bieber, World of Warcraft, and who will win the NFL football game on Sunday,
then they are with issues that actually matter, like the future of their country, the
state of the world, or historical truth. As the Jews push relentlessly for a war with
Iran, college and university students are too busy drinking, partying and popping
pills to even notice. As Organized Jewry deliberately flood all White Western
nations with massive hordes of non-white immigrants, White college kids for the
most part embrace the death of their own race and culture — indeed, they cheer it
on. (Fuerza 2013)

In keeping with the history of twentieth-century American anti-Semitism, and as the
below image illustrates, Jews have extended their grasp from Hollywood to the
videogame industry. The phantasmatic projection of control and global supremacy,
naturalized through representations like those described above, legitimate the forms of
anti-Semitic protest against and within the game described herein. An Urban Dictionary
poster succinctly summarized these anti-Jewish structures of feeling it in reference to
another popular MMO that had transitioned to a new economic focus, “Jagex turned
Runescape into Jewscape” (Figure 4).

Conclusion

World of Warcraft’s anti-Jewish representational strategies draw from the same
inventory of discourses that white supremacist, anti-Jewish online cultures utilize to make

13
As Dakota Royal remarks in response to the satirical “WoW is a Jewish Conspiracy” video described
above, “Jew is only a race due to propoganda, the whole reason they were annihilated, it was a religion,
now retards think it’s a ethnicity. (sic)” His comment was in response to multiple commenters like
Dreadlordfrips, who suggested that “They consider jews a race because they have been around since the
start of time pretty much and have features like big noses etc.” Anti-Semitism is not policed on the grounds
of race, ultimately, because, as MrDioFree comments “semitic is not a ‘race’, it’s a linguistic group and
race is a cultural construct with no basis in genetics. Hence, can antisemitism be viewed as a form of
racism?”
13

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sense of the post-9/11 and post-Recession financial landscape. On both sides of the
participatory divide -- production and consumption -- producers and fans alike draw from
anti-Semitic discourses to, as Clifford Geertz (Geertz, 1977) says of culture, tell stories
about themselves to themselves about the very different worlds in which they live. That
game designers drawing on anti-Jewish visual and aural tropes and online commenters
who believe the game to be a Jewish conspiracy do not appear to understand one another,
and do not function in dialogue with each other, is not antithetical. As Marx would
remind us, ideologies are rarely constrained by the boundaries of the rational, particularly
in a universe where, ultimately, historically derived anti-Semitic representation and
contemporary anti-Jewish sentiments encounter one another in a structure of feeling that
reproduce racial economies internal and external to the game.
While Sperb has described discrimination as the negative side of convergence
culture, wherein racism from one platform is implicitly and affectively inherited by later
platforms, we understand anti-Jewish structures of feeling as part and parcel of a history
of remix quite different from the its postmodernist celebratory incarnations. In WoW,
Commander Schnottz disarticulates the history of Nazism from anti-Semitism, and re-
articulates it to the stereotypical body of the greedy goblin Jew within the unheimlich
narrative remix of Jewish genocide and Jewish global conspiracy in the twenty-first
century. Blizzard’s game design straightforwardly activates the history of images we
discussed above, albeit in an often less than coherent manner. At times, it acknowledges
the history of trauma that underwrites these representations. “If you help us escape,” a
quest giver tells players in a quest called “The Great Escape,” “I will write the TRUTH of
what has happened here.” At other points in the game, it erases histories of trauma in the
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pursuit of LOLs. In response to these mixed messages, players either accuse those
affected by these traumas as being “overly sensitive” or “assuming everyone’s a Jew”
(Norma, 2010), or white supremacist forum posters claim that the critiques of anti-Jewish
representations obscure the Jewish conspiracy behind the videogame industry. If such a
system of disarticulation and re-articulation seems at first inconceivable, it is because
remix does work similar to that of revisionist history -- itself symptomatic of an era of
historical amnesia and economic ignorance on the part of the proletariat and precariat that
constitutes the majority of MMO players and white supremacists (Jameson, 1990;
Standing, 2011).
This is a side of remix and participatory culture that remains under explored:
convergence culture’s inventory of discourses relies on anti-Jewish, racist, or sexist
images encounters that are amplified by the latent anti-Jewish, racist, and/or sexist
structures of feeling in participants in these cultures. Thus, players encounter what Hall
would describe as the inferentially racist depiction of the race of trolls in WoW,
amplifying residual forms of racism. Or the rape culture so manifest in the television
version of Game of Thrones amplifies the rape culture that permeates online sites like
Reddit. At the same time, the openly sexist depiction of women in game culture provides
the conditions of possibility for the rabidly sexist nature of interactions in and around
game cultures (Consalvo, 2012; Huntemann, 2013).
As much as producers of convergence culture would like to displace
responsibility for the ethnic hatred, racism, sexism, and homophobia that abound in
internet culture, our analysis suggests that they bear responsibility for creating conditions
in which these forms of discrimination can be being amplified. As Nicholas De Lange
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puts it, “Prejudices can be infectious. They are transmitted from one generation to the
next, and from one country to another.” (De Lange, 1991, p. 34) To this, we would add
that prejudices can be transmitted across media platforms and the worlds they support. As
videogame designers create expansive fantasy worlds of epic proportions, as they seek
out new strategies for storytelling that provide players with senses of agency in worlds
not of their own design, they also need to search out new visual, aural, and interactional
rhetorics that transcend the discriminatory and hateful social antagonisms from which
anti-Semitic imaginings, anti-Jewish structures of feeling, and discriminatory ideologies
of all kinds can proliferate.

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