Thursday, October 10, 2013

Zelda Cruel To Animals? Have You Ever Played With The Chickens? is a well known online news and entertainment a website directed more towards the “left side” and independent-politically minded people. They also have opinion columns that can be…well…strong.

Jon Hochschartner is a freelance writer from upstate New York. He’s written one other piece about how Rockstar hates liberals. Yeah I’m trying to figure out the logic behind that statement. I couldn’t get past the first handful of paragraphs in the piece before I had to stop and laugh. To help put Hochschartner’s point of view into context, he was part of the “Occupy” movement in New York and was arrested for misconduct.  So yes. His perspective is going to be slanted.

So what made Hochschartner want to discuss Legend of Zelda, calling it classist, racist, sexist, and enforcing cruelty onto animals? Well this year marks the 15th anniversary of Legend of Zelda: Ocarna ofTime, one of the keypoint game in the franchise. November 21st to be exact (based on the original Japanese release). There is no better time to talk about Zelda, so let’s get to it. Tell me why the game is so bad!

Well he tackled the class warfare “issue” with the Communist Manifesto. The wealthy family of Skulltulla and the carpenters of Kakariko as the “workers.” Which of course, immediately represents an oppression of the common man. I mean, obviously. They were hired by the wealthy family to make repairs to the kingdom, and are clearly being exploited for their work, with the head of the household calling himself the craftsman and the carpenters as paid labor. With the game focusing on the greed of the wealthy, it ignores private property incentives and mandates the behavior of the rich vs. poor model. Yeah, that’s a big stretch considering how happy and active the carpenters are in the game. In fact, they consider themselves more of a guild and less of a work force. Though Hochschartner would probably interpret that as “the workers were not raised to think that any other lifestyle was appropriate, so they have been corrupted from birth to think this way.” Uhhuh. They seem like happy carpenters to me. You’re reading too much into “class warfare” on this one.

On the subject of xenophobia and sexism: The lighter skin characters are the heroes and the darker, brown skin ones are the villains. That’s basically what Hochschartner is getting at. Taking it one step further, Ganon is probably some variation Muslim because of his castle’s location and the area’s symbol looking similar to the Islamic star and crescent. Which completely ignores the other villains throughout the franchise such as Majora (who isn’t even a person), Ghirahim (white), Agahnim (blue/white), Vaati (white), and Duke Onkled (really white), just to name a few. Oh and Ganon is not brown. He’s green. Argument invalid.

For the sexism claim, he falls back onto Anita Sarkeesian’s argument about “damsel’s in distress.” So really, nothing new or Earth-shattering here. We know going into a Zelda game that there is going to be princess rescuing. It’s part of the series. I wouldn’t really call this overtly sexist in comparison to other games. At least Zelda has Sheik. I know, I know. There is so much to be derived from that, but if you’re going to argue about sexism at least come up with an original point and not re-hash the same material. Or if you are content to repeat, do a better job than a copy/paste of other articles.

Now the fun part that made me want to read the opinion piece: cruelty to animals. Even the unknown Zelda aficionados who have maybe played a game once or have friends that do, we all know the horrors that are the chickens. I.E. You do not mess with them. Ever. Try it and you will end up with a dead Link. Though it does make for a much more challenging game in the original NES version when you can get the chicken’s to bug out and torment you eternally throughout your journey to save Zelda. But I was sadly disappointed by the accusations. Hochschartner boils down the argument to this: Party A, a talking cow, and Party B, the people of Hyrule, have come to a mutually beneficial agreement for domestication of said cow. And if this were the real world, Party B would eventually kill and eat Party A.

That’s it.

That’s the entire argument for animal abuse. A real world projection into the video game where you don’t have to kill said talking cow.

He couldn’t have gone after the millions of examples about Link walking around Hyrule and killing the bad-guy insects, foxes, wolves, and what-not. We have a talking cow.

If anything, The Legend of Zelda as a whole spends too much time on the symbiosis of animal and man. Without getting into Link’s wolf transformation and all that, life in general on Hyrule is about respecting your environment and the creatures that live within it. And as I’ve stated before, punch a chicken, get pecked to death: it reinforces the need to treat animals with esteem.

What hurts the most about this “article” is that this is all justified by a link to the Women vs. Tropes video game series from Feminist Frequency. “[I] t’s both possible and even necessary to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspect.” Absolutely. In order to appreciate anything, we need to be able to analyze it with a critical eye and peel apart the layers. But this isn’t what  Hochschartner has done. Instead it’s a slap-dash, rip-apart, rant about everything that is Zelda in order to make the reader feel like they were coerced in their childhood to be elitist, sexism, animal hating people.

The “piece” is meant to stir gamers and non-gamers alike to get a reaction. Thus more views. Thus a potential for further articles.

While I don’t advocate giving this man more web hits, because the writing is no better than a high school student who threw together a term paper the morning it’s due, it is funny to read and shake your head at.


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