The True Message of Majora’s Maskby Dylan - first posted October 17, 2010
A few years ago, while I was replaying The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, I reached the top of Stone Tower and took another look at the strange scenery there before moving on. The gigantic pointing blood-stained hand again caught my attention. It seemed so strange, so ominous, like there was some cryptic meaning behind it that I just couldn’t place. But this time, something clicked in my mind.
I understood the significance of that pointing hand, the meaning that had always eluded me before. Now I wanted to know why it was there.
What secrets has the game been hiding all this time?
Termina’s Tower of Babel
After investigating the Stone Tower Temple and glancing through several theories posted online, I pieced together my own theory. According to this theory, the Stone Tower is related to the Tower of Babel.
“They stood for a moment staring up at the structure, imposing and impossible and threatening.
“What was the story of the Tower of Babel? Does anyone know? It’s a Bible thing, right?” Jobs asked.
Mo’Steel shook his head pityingly. “You are such a heathen, Duck. The people made a tower to reach all the way up to heaven. God didn’t like their attitude, getting above themselves and all. So he turned them against one another by making them speak all different languages. That way they couldn’t cooperate and make any more towers to heaven.”
Jobs made a face. He was on the verge of saying that it was a stupid story. But Mo’Steel would be offended. “An allegory of human pride,” Miss Violet Blake said. “A pretty good allegory if you wish to instruct people in humility.”
—Remnants: Them, K.A. Applegate
An ancient people built Stone Tower as a stairway to the heavens. They would invade the Sacred Realm and slay the Goddesses of the Triforce, using the power of the Giant’s Mask. They would prove once and for all that their four beloved Giants were superior to some female deities.
The Goddesses were not pleased, so they let their divine Light Arrows fall into the hands of these wicked people. When the Light of Justice shone upon the blood-stained emblem of the tower, it rearranged things. The world was reversed so that the earth was positioned in the heavens and the sky was beneath the people’s feet.
The people came across a strange portal in the sky, and when they entered it they were transported into another dimension. But this dimension was not the Sacred Realm they had hoped to find. The universe had been flipped upside-down, and so the stairway to the heavens had become the road to Hell. This dark realm consisted of a vast desert scorched by violent sandstorms. And in this realm there lived an evil being, a monster that had been sealed away after its makers realized the extent of its dark powers.
It was Majora’s Mask. The wicked people delighted in their discovery, and brought it back with them into their world. They built monuments to the mask in both the desert and in the temples of their own world. And so their world became marked by the devil. This cursed land was thus given the name Termina, because it was doomed to end.
Fact or Fan-Fiction?
“Belief or disbelief rests with you.”
So…that theory might sound like a bunch of fan-fiction. Nevertheless, there is content in the game that led me to these conclusions. I’ll review the evidence, explain my reasoning, and let you decide whether or not I might be on to something.
To start with, there’s the entrance to Stone Tower. Sometime before I even began putting together this theory, I noticed that the huge statue at the entrance was a bit obscene. The statue shows a giant naked man sitting with his hands on his knees. His mouth is gaping open and his tongue extends to the ground, covering up the area between his wide-open legs. You enter Stone Tower by walking up his tongue and into his mouth.
Inside the tower, you must manipulate a series of blocks that share a very similar design. The blocks depict the same nude creature as the entrance statue, but here you can see more of the figure. If you look at the blocks from a few different angles, you’ll notice that the bottom side shows the gargoyle’s naked behind. Next to the butt cheeks, right where you might expect to see the creature’s crotch, you instead see the Triforce, the sacred emblem of the Goddesses of Hyrule. The gargoyle is licking the Triforce, which is disrespectfully displayed on the bottom side of the blocks.
And then there is the giant pointing hand mentioned earlier. It points towards the sky, and its finger is ablaze. Right next to the pointing hand is a pillar that happens to be rather phallic. When I was playing the game, trying to figure out why the pointing hand was there, it occurred to me that the builders of the tower were saying something along the lines of “Screw you!” to somebody. The ring of fire on the fingertip indicates anger, and we all can figure out what the phallus implies.
Many people who’ve read this theory quickly dismiss the idea that Nintendo would intentionally place a phallus in a Zelda game. It’s worth pointing out that Banjo-Tooie (another family-friendly N64 game released a month or so after Majora’s Mask) did the same thing though perhaps for less tasteful reasons. And, Nintendo did display butt cheeks on the gargoyle blocks in this Zelda game. I expect that the artists who worked on the game would notice what these pillars could appear to be, especially after designing those obscene statues for the same area. The fact that they prominently displayed that pointing hand next to one of these pillars further indicates that they intended for the pillars to be phallic, and that they wanted older players to notice. Earlier designs of Stone Tower still included the phalluses and pointing hand, indicating that they’re important to the design of Stone Tower, and not just last-minute additions.
Most likely, plenty of people will still reject the idea that Nintendo would knowingly place this sort of content in a Zeldagame. But if those pillars are indeed meant to be phallic, Nintendo included them for tasteful, justified reasons. Their design is abstract enough that younger players will not catch on, and their inclusion adds a great level of depth and darkness to the game’s story and setting. Majora’s Mask is a trippy, out-there sort of game–there’s the man stuck in the toilet, the Moon that comes to life, and the beautiful field you enter before the final battle. Majora’s Mask is not afraid to be shocking and strange, and there always seems to be a great deal of artistic merit to the content in the game. Would this game go so far as to include an abstract structure that’s supposed to look like a phallus to older players? It’s up to you to decide what to believe here.
Going back to the pointing hand, it’s probably not a stretch to say that the “Screw you” message is directed at the Goddesses of the Triforce. The hand points towards the sky, which is often associated with the heavens. The heavens can be associated with the Goddesses and the Sacred Realm in this case, because the image of the Triforce actually appears in Stone Tower; the game’s artists are reminding us of Hyrule’s Goddesses with that symbol.
There is actually more than one phallic pillar in Stone Tower. Four of them surround the giant face that is the entrance to the temple(1). Each phallus represents one of the four male Giants. The design of the temple entrance is also reminiscent of the bearded faces of the Giants, though we never see a Giant open his mouth. But the implied message here seems to be that the builders of Stone Tower love the Giants of Termina and reject the female Goddesses who claim to be superior beings.
The architects might have planned to wage war against the Goddesses once they had invaded their realm. The Giant’s Mask is tucked away inside Stone Tower, and the game does not provide any explicit backstory for the mysterious artifact. But if we accept that the architects loved the Giants and hated the Goddesses, we can assume that they wanted to demonstrate the superiority of the Giants. The Giant’s Mask was their symbolic weapon; it would bestow tremendous power upon them, the power of a Giant, once they had reached the heavens. They hoped to use that power to destroy the Goddesses.
Now, the Goddesses of the Triforce responded to this blasphemy by flipping Stone Tower upside-down. They allowed the sacred Light Arrows to appear in this most wicked corner of Termina, so that their divine light would smite the evil. The Light rearranged the tower so that it would lead the architects not to Heaven, but to Hell where they belonged. This Hell would later serve as Twinmold’s Lair, but prior to that, it had been the realm where an ancient tribe had sealed away Majora’s Mask.
(1) The number four is of great significance to the world of Termina, since it represents the four regions of the world, the four temples, and the four guardian Giants. Throughout the game you can see many variations of a sort of compass emblem, a design showing four circles (or other shapes) arranged in a cross pattern. This design represents the world of Termina: the regions to the North, South, East, and West, and Clock Town at the center. The four pillars in Stone Tower are yet another variation of this design.