"The Legend of Zelda Is Classist, Sexist and Racist."
Bet you didn't think one of the cornerstones of your childhood was also a...vehicle for oppression.
But it's the headline of the article Salon published last weekend. Let me know how much you're able to get through before you begin to asphyxiate on your own ragevomit. The liberal guilt-burdened author of this piece of trollbait is one Jon Hochschartner, credited with being a freelance writer from Upstate New York (where he undoubtedly spends nights furiously pleasuring himself to Andrea Dworkin and Slavoj Žižek clips on YouTube).
In other words, he's either the one of the greatest satirist the world doesn't know, or, the most milquetoast buzzkill to troll us this week. Either way: fuck this guy. His only other claim to fame—not surprisingly, also published on Salon—was titled "Grand Theft Auto maker: Video games hate liberals." Of course.
Pearl-clutching thinkpieces about Rockstar games are as reliable as the sun rising. Yet: Writing a thinkpiece browbeating The Legend of Zelda? That's a (relatively) new one. Not even a paragraph of this garbage-ass Internet in, and Hochschartner's quoting feminist video game writer Anita Sarkessian:
"Remember that it’s both possible and even necessary to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects."
Salon's operating on the same level as any number of sites that get by on producing the sort of aggrieved, privlege-checking, aggressively politically correct ragefuel, but we aren't talking about Kane and Lynch. We're not even talking about Dead or Alive. We're talking about Hyrule, and Link, and its practically androgenous, cherubic townies.
"Critics frequently laud the Nintendo 64 title as the greatest video game ever [but] the ways it deals with class, race, gender and animal rights are all deeply problematic."
Yes: Not only are Occupy, the ADL, and NOW spoken for, PETA's up in this shit, too! Here we were, playing Zelda, worried about possibly engendering racism, sexism, and classicism, but it turns out Salon has some extra victimhood laying around for readers to slather on their institutionally entitled, non-inclusive, meat-eating chests. You know what does fall within the realm of 'deeply problematic'?
College students shackled to loan shark rated debt upon graduating; the fact that our country is currently a laughing stock on the international stage because we are governed by barely functioning mouth breathers; young adults facing one of the worst job markets to exist in the last 100 years; and literally a million other things that have nothing to do with the psychosexual dissection and fictional implications of a 15 year old Nintendo game.
Instead of stapling their brainpans together and attempting to tackle the income inequality currently crushing the middle classes's windpipe in this country, Salon indulges in some collectivist finger wagging.
"Some may interpret the fate of the wealthy family, who are transformed into spiderlike creatures, in the House of Skulltulla as a condemnation of an exploitive class system, but that would be a mistake. " 'Folks around here tell of a fabulously rich family that once lived in one of the houses in this village," an elderly character in Kakariko confides. "But they say that the entire family was cursed due to their greed! Who knows what might happen to those who are consumed by greed.'" "By focusing on the greed of individuals, the game ignores how private property incentivizes and even mandates such behavior. And with this moralizing focus comes a belief that society’s economic ills are intractable because of humanity’s flawed nature."
Humanity's nature isn't flawed and society's ills aren't intractable. The system is rigged to keeep us pinned between this week and next week's paycheck. We have been gamed and are one crowded subway car away from canibalizing each other in order to get to work on time. But yes, a look at a Hyrulean myth about a family transformed into spiders requires a much deeper reading.
On how Ocarina of Time has probably made you a religious bigot, or at least crazy intolerant of brown people:
"The racial, ethnic and religious traits of the “good characters” and the “bad characters” within the game also demonstrate a certain xenophobia. All of the good characters, such as the Hylians and Kokiri, are white. In contrast, all of the bad characters, such as the thieving Gerudo and their king, Ganondorf, have brown skin. The Gerudo live in the desert, and in case it wasn’t clear what real-life group of people they are based on, the original Gerudo symbol is strongly reminiscent of the Islamic star and crescent."
Xenophobia? Last we checked 'Gerudo need not apply' placards weren't hung from any tavern doors in Hyrule. While selectively mandating all the characters in the series be divided down good/bad, white/brown color lines, Hochschartner makes a glaring omission. Where are the Zora? The race of mer-people that inhabit the rivers and oceans of Hyrule? If ever there were to be a pogrom organized to rid a land of a specific ethnic group, we're pretty sure they'd have gills.
On you why you treat women like property, you pig:
"Just like in every other game in the series, Princess Zelda is incapacitated and in need of rescue from the central character, Link. The repeated use of this sexist cliché helps to, as Sarkeesian says, “normalize extremely toxic, patronizing, and paternalistic attitudes.' "
Nope. The relationship between Link and Zelda serves as the narrative engine that powers the entire franchise. There's nothing patronizing or paternalistic about their affiliation.
On why we all secretly want to quit our jobs, move into yurts, and milk goats for the rest of our days:
"The game’s representation of animals is best displayed in the idyllic Lon Lon Ranch, a small farm operated by a human father-daughter duo. Entering the location, “Epona’s Song,” a tranquil and nostalgic piece by composer Koji Kondo, plays in the background. The wistful choice in music isn’t surprising, given widespread yearning by industrialized human populations for a recently abandoned, romanticized pastoralism."
I wish I had one of those little plastic bibs you get when you go out for lobster. Not because I'm foaming at the mouth or choking on my own bile mind you. No, I'd like the bib so I could travel back in time and use the bib to smother the liberal arts professor who convinced the author of this piece that "abandoned, romanticized pastoralism" was an acceptable turn of phrase. Fictional, time travel based assassination attempts aside (who knows, Salon may pillory me for offending the temporally disenfranchised) this piece is a crisply folded example of why liberals and readers of Salon are so often lambasted as elitist twats.
That's why this must be a masterstroke of disingenuous fiction and we are all being trolled. But in the even that Salon was being legitimate, let me be the first to apologize to all of the oppressed citizens of Hyrule for all of those pots I broke. I was just acting out and had no way to articulate my dissatisfaction with the entrenched male dominated patriarchal hegemony I tacitly benefit from on a daily basis.
Now where's my lobster bib, I've got an oppressed crustacean to apologize to.