It’s time to deal with our very first fan theory about a video game. It’s surpring this hasn’t happened sooner, really. After all, we’ve covered theories about movies, tv-shows and even a song at this point!
But we’re finally here, and we’ll be starting off strong, with one of the darkest video games of the 90’s. The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask.
(And if you laugh at that description, you clearly haven’t played the game… Also, massive spoilers ahead.)
Now, I’m actually pretty optimistic about this. There’s a lot to be found in this game, so who knows. Maybe this will be good?
Dave: Ok, so the theory is that the five areas of the game directly correspond to the five stages of grief!
And just like that, my optimism is rapidly replaced by the familiar approach of a headache…
Dave: No, really, this really adds up!
Ok, fine. What are the arguments?
Dave: First off, there’s Denial, which is characterized by Clock Town. People in the city refuse to believe the moon will fall and destroy Termina, and are confused that the city is empty.
Next is the Southern Swamp, with Anger. The Deku scrubs are angry at the monkey for kidnapping the princess, and refuse to even listen to his claims to the contrary.
The third stage is Snowhead, which symbolizes Bargaining. The Gorons are freezing to death, hoping their dead hero will return to life and save them.
Next is Depression, symbolized by Great Bay. The Zoras have lost their guitarrist, and are mourning him, and Lulu, the singer in their band, has lost her voice after her eggs were stolen.
And finally for Acceptance, there’s Ikana Canyon. With no more masks to assume and virtually everyone dead, Link has nobody to conquer but himself, forced to face his own grief and pain, and come to terms with the loss of his friend.
Is that all?
Dave: Yeah. Pretty neat, huh? What do you think?
Well, the theory is very elaborate and detailed, I’ll give it that, and it includes a lot of elements from the game…
Dave: See? I told you!
So what do I think? I think it might be the biggest load of conceited, pretentious, pseudo-intellectual bullshit I’ve ever heard!
Not only is everything you just said wrong, but it’s so absolutely idiotic it borders on the intentional!
Dave: Oh, really? And why is that?
I am GLAD you asked! But before I explain to you in how many ways this theory is stupid, let me explain the issue with this type of theory. It’s the same problem as with the theory about Harry Potter, Snape and Voldemort corresponding to the “Three Brothers“.
Imagine, if you will, a house of cards. When you plan it, you can make it very elaborate and fancy, but for it to actually work when you build it, every single card has to be perfect. If a single card falls, the entire house will collapse.
By the same token, every part of this theory has to add up. If even one of them fail, the entire theory falls apart.
And what you have done is suggest five separate parts, and NOT A SINGLE ONE ADDS UP!
Let’s begin with Denial, shall we? In Clock Town, you’re right that people are refusing to believe the moon will fall. After all, this is clearly shown to us in the mayors office, where there is a meeting. The meeting is between the carnival commitee, urging the mayor not to cancel the carnival…
And the captain of the city guards, who is urging the mayor to ORDER EVERYONE TO EVACUATE THE TOWN, on account of the fucking moon falling!
Right there, the idea that the people in clock town symbolize denial is in pieces. But that’s not all! The captain states everyone besides public servants and comitte members have already left!
The carpenters, over the course of the three days, also flee the town. In the end, only their leader is left. If Clock Town truly symbolized denial, not a single person would leave, flee or even question the current situation!
As for Anger, while it’s true that the Deku Scrubs are preparing to punish the innocent monkey, they are doing so by order of their king, who suspects the monkey of kidnapping the princess.
We are told by the princess that the king is known to act without thinking when he’s worried. He is also the ONLY ONE in this area who displays anger! Shouldn’t everyone be angry for this to work? Shouldn’t Koume, the old hag who was beaten up in the woods, be angry? The other monkeys, who know what happened to their brother? Are they angry?
No, they’re not!
Next, you say that Snowhead symbolizes Bargaining, because the Gorons are all waiting for their fallen hero to rise from the dead and save them. I suppose we’re ignoring that the goron elder got frozen in an ice block, trying to get to snowhead temple! Seems strange considering the gorons supposedly all expected Darmani to sort it out! Instead, they’re all DUMBFOUNDED by your arrival in goron form, surprised to see Darmani seemingly risen from the dead!
Dave: Ah, but Darmani begged you to give him life back! That’s bargaining!
No, it isn’t! That’s begging! You have to offer something in RETURN for it to be bargaining!
Dave: Well, when you heal his soul, you got his mask…
Oh, right, that’s true. It’s a good thing that doesn’t happen at any other time in the game, right? It’s not like a ghostly dancer and a dying Zora both ask you to heal their souls, granting you a mask in return- OH WAIT!
Speaking of Zoras, this leads us to Depression, with the Zoras all grieving over the loss of their guitarist. And what grieving it is! Why, it’s such a painful loss, none of them ever mention it, or even seem to acknowledge your return as out of the ordinary at all. It’s almost like they have no idea Mikau is dead!
Dave: But Lulu is standing behind Zora Hall, staring at the ocean! She is described as looking sad, and has even lost her voice because of the loss of her eggs! That’s text book depression!
Right… Never mind that she lost her voice BEFORE her eggs were stolen! In fact, the reason she lost her voice is because something is wrong with the Great Bay Temple! The drummer, Tijon, mentions a rumor that should something happen to the Great Bay Temple, the descendants of the Zoras guarding the Temple may suffer. Lulu laid those eggs to remind her of the song that opens the way to the temple! It’s not depression, it’s a fucking curse!
And finally, Ikana Canyon and Acceptance. How did you put it? No more masks to assume, nobody left to conquer but himself and coming to terms with his pain and loss?
First off, Link brings all the transformation masks with him to Ikana, and he has to keep assuming those forms throughout the area in order to progress. He just doesn’t get a NEW form to assume. Second, nobody left to conquer? What about the Garo Ninjas? What about captain Keeta? What about the ghost sisters? What about Igos Du Ikana, the FUCKING KING!?
What about Twinmold, the main boss of the temple?! Does defeating them not count as conquering? In fact, he does more outright fighting in this area than anywhere else!
And of course, coming to terms with his own pain and loss. That’s an interesting argument…
Hey, Dave, just out of curiousity, could you do me a favor?
Name ONE SINGLE FUCKING TIME we’re shown Link coming to terms with any kind of loss, pain or grief! Name one time he seems to acknowledge his past. And while I’m asking, what fucking loss?! What painful loss has Link suffered that he needs to come to terms with!?
Dave: The loss of Navi, of course!
He doesn’t come to terms with that! In fact, by the end of the game, he continues on that journey, looking for her! How is that posssibly acceptance?!
In fact, that’s another fucking problem with the theory! The examples you have offered are not only insufficient, but also, they’re not based in grief!
The carpenters supposed denial is just pigheaded stubbornness, not denial in the face of loss or grief!
With the swamp, the king is not angry out of grief, but out of concern for his missing daughter!
Those are NOT the same thing!
With Snowhead, the gorons are not waiting for Darmani, But even if they DID, that is not bargaining! That is HOPE! Horribly misplaced, idiotic hope, but hope all the same!
HOPE IS NOT THE SAME AS BARGAINING!
And Lulu, like I said, is not depressed! She’s fucking cursed! When you play the song for her, she snaps out of it as if woken up from a trance, wondering what’s going on!
Not to mention that this is missing a core fucking detail!
Dave: What’s that?
THERE ARE SIX AREAS!
Dave: What?! No, there aren’t! There’s the town, the swamp, the mountains, the sea and the canyon. That’s the entire map. What other area is there? I know you’re not counting Romani Ranch.
Can’t tell what it is? Here, let me give you a pointer.
The incredibly weird area with the giant tree and creepy children running around, wearing the masks of the bosses you’ve fought? Where you face off against Majora’s Mask itself, the big bad of the game?!
Does that somehow not count as an area? I’d argue that it’s in fact the most important area in the game, seeing as the strange and surreal nature of the game reaches a climax there!
Dave: I suppose…
This theory not only makes no sense, but it just reeks of ego-stroking! It’s like something dreamt up by a first grade psychology student. A moron who’s read two books on psychology and decides to analyse and profile a fucking video game to feel clever!
And in the process missing the part about how Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who introduced the idea of the Five Stages, noted that it is NOT a step-by-step progression. Instead, they are five common experiences for a bereaved person, and can occur in any order, with some stages possibly overlapping or not manifesting at all!
So, the house of cards lies in pieces, to the surprise of nobody. Just because something includes a number, that doesn’t automatically mean the number has some deep, hidden meaning.
Or to paraphrase Sigmund Freud…
“Sometimes, a number is just a number”