Salon Lets Former Occupier Rant Against 'Sexist' Video Game 'Legend of Zelda'

Salon.com, which attacked Disney earlier in 2013 for its apparent lack of LGBT characters, plunged into a new depth of left-wing wackiness in a Saturday post that targeted a 15-year-old video game. Writer Jon Hochschartner unleashed against "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" for its supposedly "deeply problematic" handling of "class, race, gender and animal rights".

The website identified Hochschartner as a "freelance writer from upstate New York", but it failed to disclose that he took part in Occupy Wall Street's 2011 encampment in New York City, and he was among the hundreds who got arrested when the NYPD forced the far-left activists from Zuccotti Park.

The Lake Placid, New York resident, who penned a July 2013 item for SocialistWorker.org defending "animal rights", began his item, "'The Legend of Zelda' is classist, sexist and racist", by noting the 15th anniversary of the video game and how "critics frequently laud the Nintendo 64 title as the greatest video game ever". He then injected his "deeply problematic" label of the game, and first tackled the class warfare aspect of the game. Unsurprisingly, he quoted from "The Communist Manifesto" in this part of the critique:

The game's perspective on class issues can best be seen in its portrayal of the Kakariko carpenters and the wealthy family in the House of Skulltulla.

The relationship between the self-described "boss" of the carpenters and those he calls "my workers," appears to be one of a guild member and apprentices or journeymen. The boss refers to himself as a master craftsman, and says the workers were hired by the royal family to improve the village. Karl Marx described this relationship as one of "oppressor and oppressed," comparing it to that of "freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, (and) lord and serf."

...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.

Hochschartner continued by berating the Japanese-produced game's supposed white supremacism and sexism:


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.

The title's perspective on sex is arguably summarized in an advertisement for "Ocarina," which asks, "Willst thou get the girl? Or play like one?" The game utilizes a damsel-in-distress trope that suggests women are weak and in need of male protection. 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 [feminist writer Anita] Sarkeesian says, "normalize extremely toxic, patronizing, and paternalistic attitudes."

The radical writer's pièce de résistance: ripping the game for its sympathetic depiction of animal domestication:

...[D]omestication is portrayed as a mutually beneficial, voluntary arrangement. The anthropomorphized cows...speak to Link, literally saying, 'Have some of my refreshing and nutritious milk!' Of course depicting a relationship as anything like symbiotic when one party kills and eats the other, as well as the latter's children, would be laughable if it weren't so appalling.

Words sometimes fail in the wake of such a diatribe. However, blogger "Matthew Julius" summed it up well in a Wednesday retort to Hochschartner:

...[The] article reads like something just the worst kind of English major would vomit up after two days of class. It's a muddled mess of poorly developed points depending on overdetermined signifiers and false profundity....Overall, Hochschartner's article is attention-seeking, minimally-researched, and flimsily-argued drivel. It reads like an unfocused early draft, written the night before the deadline and passed off as a completed piece. It is excessive in its complete lack of content. It is Kaepora Gaebora, the much-reviled owl from Ocarina of Time, who blathers on and on and on, not saying anything of any value to anyone.

That will leave a mark.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center