Recently, on twitter, pretty much from the moment Blizzard announced them as the new expansion's focus and new race at Blizzcon, there has been much backlash against the Pandaren. I've seen many comparisons to Ewok and gnomes (because apparently many many people feel sickened and/or threatened by gnomey awesomeness) and assertions of how their "silliness" as a class equates to Blizzard having jumped the shark and ruined the World of Warcraft.
All I can say to that is: BALONEY!
Personally, I am equally at home with my love of vanity pets and gnomes and kittens and being a face melting shadow priest! I challenge anyone who has played with me to honestly say "Oh that Anexxia is such a carebear gnome lover and kitten scratcher that it gets in the way of her being a good player; she really needs to L2play."
The entire style of WoW, to me, is somewhat cartooney, versus hyper realistic. It's not meant to be a very serious representation of modern life. I don't want to play a character that looks just like me in real life-- I play me in real life every day. Having a little fun with appearances doesn't change my ability to play in any way. Yes, sometimes we are going about very serious business, such as very important raid boss killing, but at the end of the day, we are playig a game, with a goal of having fun. And having a dancing gnome shadow priest in your raid is fun! Not as fun as a dancing boomkin perhaps, but FUN all the same!
You know what else is fun? Bouncing along as you run. I bounce on my night elf. I bounce on my Forsaken. I bounce on my gnomes. And the bounciness is contagious. Before you know it, you have other folks bouncing along in synchronization with you! And suddenly that long run back from that wipe isn't quite as annoying.
Frankly, it always puzzles me how much anti-gnome sentiment I'd hear while playing my beloved gnomey casters. Now, Pandaren have taken up the mantle of most heckled and despised race. I don't particularly like the hunchbacked, ever-sniffing worgen, but I don't go on Internet tirades about how they ruined Wow and are ridiculous insults to my gaming self. I just simply don't play one. Hopefully the anti-Pandaren uproar will die down and folks will find something else to deride. If not, at least all you pandas will have a nice thick furry skin to deflect the criticism. And hopefully you'll have an awesome beer-powered dance to dance those cares away with...
PS a big thank you to Cyn for suggesting I actually post about this.