hey! sorry to bother you, but I dont know about the whole gremlin dva thing? what is it?
Oh wow but I wish you’d asked this off-anon, racist overwatch fans are really sensitive about this subject and like to throw little tantrums whenever anyone says anything against it! I’m gonna start from the very beginning in case anyone doesn’t know the basics of the situation
Okay, so this is D.Va:
D.Va, AKA Hana Song is a nineteen-year-old professional Starcraft player from Korea. There isn’t a perfect analogy, but in Korea, Pro Gamers aren’t viewed the way western gamers are, they’re held in a closer regard to professional athletes, or even rock stars. D.Va’s name is indicative of her personality: She’s a celebrity diva. She’s confident to a fault, she’s courageous and a bit cocky, she’s charming and she knows how to work an audience. Her fame as a pro Starcraft player has led to a career as an actress, which brought her fame worldwide.
At age 16, through a “last starfighter/pacific rim” type situation, the Korean Government decided to address the problem of “giant robot keeps attacking Korea and traditional military tactics and regular soldiers are useless against it” by recruiting pro gamers (with their fast reflexes and unconventional tactical know-how) to pilot mechs to keep the giant robot at bay. D.Va was the best Starcraft player in the world (except her dad, the one person in the world she still can’t beat), and amazingly, she was also the best at fighting this giant robot. Because her gaming ability is what makes her so good at fighting this particular giant robot, she approaches her job the same way she approaches video games: by perpetually chasing the horizon of perfection and trying to improve her skills.
In-universe, she streams her missions worldwide on Twitch, and her fan following as a Superhero is as big as her following as a Pro Gamer or a Movie Star. Because she streams her missions, she’s often heard using gamer-speak in-combat because she’s addressing her audience directly. Outside of combat, many other heroes (like Lucio and Reinhardt) are huge fans of hers and look up to her, she’s a fan of reading scientific journals and is a bit starstruck to meet her favorite scientist (Mei) and she’s deeply hurt by the destruction she saw in her home country. She’s also sensitive about being called a child, because she’s now 19 (an adult) and a decorated soldier and deserves a certain level of respect.
This is Gremlin D.Va:
Gremlin D.Va is a fandom-created meme based on approximately nothing from the actual game or lore except the word “gamer” in her description. Gremlin D.Va is a caricature of western white male gamers (interesting given that D.Va is a Korean woman who acts approximately nothing like western white male gamers).
Gremlin D.Va is approximately four years old (or less!! A lot of the fanart includes her wearing diapers, sitting in strollers, sucking on a pacifier, the line is between “gremlin D.Va” and “baby D.Va” is blurry enough to be practically nonexistent). Gremlin D.Va is obsessed with doritos and mountain dew (she has her own brand of chips and sponsors a cola brand in-game, but we’ve established that the people making this meme don’t really care about what is or isn’t part of the game). She is supposed to be dirty and disgusting, she speaks in broken english even though Canon D.Va is fluent (they chalk this up to be “she’s like a baby!” but infantilization isn’t much better), she is mischievous and sneaky, she is presented as a childlike, and, well, pretty much aligns with every harmful stereotype of East Asians except the hypersexualization (which they claim makes it progressive). Also, as noted in the above picture, part of the meme is that she’s been adopted by two of the white characters, Soldier: 76 and Mercy, neither of whom she’s confirmed to have ever even met. She’s usually presented in the comics as a burden to that white man, which, yikes.
Essentially, Gremlin D.Va is a list of harmful and baseless stereotypes and tropes about Asians and Asian-Americans like “sneaky” and “childlike” and “perverse,” and defenders of the meme like to pretend it’s okay to project lots of anti-Asian racist stereotypes onto an Asian character as long as they’re not doing so because she’s Asian, but, the fact is, it honestly doesn’t matter whether or not they mean to be racist, but it’s somewhat hard to believe it has nothing to do with the character being East Asian: It would be very different if she were a white character being treated the same way, since there’s really no cultural baggage that presents white people as subhuman (you’re literally calling her a “gremlin”) and childlike (don’t try to dispute this, half those comics put her in a damn diaper), but for SOME REASON the white characters in the game are never presented that way!
The one exception to that is in the Halloween sprays where D.Va is very much presented as a child, and defenders like to claim this makes Gremlin D.Va “canon,” although this doesn’t really hold any water, since the sprays seem to show children dressed as the heroes trick-or-treating, and almost all the heroes are given a trick-or-treater spray. Here’s just a handful, for instance:
Now, I’ve gotten yelled at a lot for calling the meme racist, and 99 times out of 100 it is, but the fact remains, even if it was totally not racist: it’s just plain not funny! It’s boring and unimaginative and doesn’t make sense! People always try to act like “it’s just a video game, it’s fictional, let us have our jokes,” and I wholeheartedly agree, except that I expect jokes to be even mildly funny.
People also come back with “but it’s Chibi! Haven’t you ever heard of Chibi!” which, of course I have!! In fact, like all the Overwatch heroes, there’s a Chibi version of her available in the game! It doesn’t look like a screaming dorito-encrusted toddler in the care of a cheap knockoff Clint Eastwood, though, it looks like a chibi version of the character:
There she is standing next to her mech! She’s got a look and pose indicative of her trademark cocksure attitude, she’s clearly an adult and not a child, she’s not sexualized in this image without being desexualized through infantilization, and it looks like her, but in that style!!
Now, the thing is, I know it’s futile to ask racists to stop being racist, especially when they don’t agree they are being racist. They think they’re being funny, and they try to dismiss any criticisms with “it’s not that serious,” but the thing is, if it wasn’t that serious to them, why do they throw a little tantrum whenever anyone voices discomfort with it? And I mean every single time, they whine and complain and act smugly superior because they haven’t been “offended,” but the fact is that most normal fans of the game are content to roll their eyes and scroll past their unfunny meme, and they’re the ones who get all worked up whenever they find out people don’t think it’s funny.
Which is the most important facet of Gremlin D.Va: it’s not funny! It’s boring! It feels like the kind of thing Seth Green would write in a mediocre Robot Chicken sketch that he didn’t put all that much effort into. Even if it wasn’t racist, it just doesn’t make sense that people keep pushing this unfunny joke despite the fact that the response is more groans than laughs! In fact, most people I know mock and ridicule the people who are boring enough to find it funny!
So, that’s basically it in a nutshell.