"If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time — a tremendous whack."An Anvilicious work is one that has a moral message and makes it as subtle as an anvil dropped on the viewer's head, in other words not subtle at all. But sometimes, a work can be Anvilicious without suffering in the process. Some works not only pull it off gracefully, but are effective because of the Anvil — and not in a So Bad, It's Good way, either. Often seen in Reconstructions. Other times, the anvil comes across very blatant, which might turn off some viewers, but in the era which the story is told, the message itself is more important than the story or allegory it is presented in. Consider, for instance, Harriet Beecher-Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and its anvilicious message "slavery is bad". It is not a subtle message and generally not considered great literature. However, it came when at least a large minority (if not a majority) of whites imagined that slavery was good for black people. Effective anti-slavery propaganda was badly needed. That anvilicious, sentimental piece of propaganda may have done more real good than any piece of great literature. The same can be said about Chaplin's The Great Dictator and its anvilicious "Hitler is bad" message or Orwell's Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four with their anvilicious "Totalitarianism is bad" message. A reminder that An Aesop is Not Bad. And don't let the fact that the anvils of one work are often incompatible or in direct opposition to another's get in the way either. This is also the rationale of many a Public Service Announcement, and at least the intention of a Propaganda Piece. When an anvil needed to be dropped, but it wasn't, you have Lost Aesop. If they just dropped the wrong one, it's a Broken Aesop. If they thought the anvil needed to be dropped but everyone believed it already, that's a Captain Obvious Aesop. Remember, this is not whether or not you agree with the moral, it's about how a story is improved because the message is so blatant. A genuinely anvilicious Aesop is not automatically excused by being an agreeable one. Thus this trope can be seen as an inversion of Don't Shoot the Message, where a good message fails to prevent a story from being bad. Has nothing to do with Anvil on Head. Unless of course you were trying to illustrate that it's wrong to drop anvils on people's heads. Disclaimer: We at TV Tropes do not condone Anvils On Heads.
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- A number of EC Comics in the 1950s. In that era, doctors would appear in cigarette TV commercials telling people how healthy they were. EC in general (and Mad magazine more specifically) worked anti-smoking elements into their features quite frequently. Other notable aesops include:
- Judgment Day features an astronaut from Earth refusing to allow a planet of robots whose society is segregated along color lines to join a coalition of civilized species. The anvil is then hammered into the ground when the astronaut takes his helmet off and the reader discovers that he is black. Its necessity was later proven by The Comics Code Authority when the story was being anthologized, as they tried to tell EC editor Bill Gaines that the hero could not be black.
It also dropped a second and equally important anvil — that segregation can be overcome. While the robots are refused membership to the coalition, the astronaut assures the robots that if they work at it, they can fix their social problems.
- Master Race is about a German immigrant to America after World War II who is driven to near-madness because he believes he is being stalked by someone from the war. As the story unfolds, it is slowly revealed that the man was a commander at Bergen-Belsen, and the man following him is a Jew he had tortured who had vowed revenge. The story is shot through with accurate descriptions and depictions of what occurred in the Nazi concentration camps, and was one of the first pieces in American popular culture to address the Holocaust at all.
- Judgment Day features an astronaut from Earth refusing to allow a planet of robots whose society is segregated along color lines to join a coalition of civilized species. The anvil is then hammered into the ground when the astronaut takes his helmet off and the reader discovers that he is black. Its necessity was later proven by The Comics Code Authority when the story was being anthologized, as they tried to tell EC editor Bill Gaines that the hero could not be black.
- V for Vendetta, specifically the "Valerie" chapter, about a woman who had been a successful actress before the fascist regime slowly and cruelly destroyed her life, which ended in a concentration camp medical experiment, all because she was a lesbian. The narrative would not be half as effective if Moore had been subtle with it.
- Warren Ellis is big on these.
Joseph Swetnam: Justice, like Lightning, should ever appear. To few men's ruin, but to all men's fear...We applaud masked police beating the politically inconvenient in the street and then disappearing them.
- The entire run of Transmetropolitan was a big, long, anvil about the importance of standing up for The Truth and speaking out for what you believe in, regardless of the personal consequences; and the evils of complacency and blindly accepting authority. Making the character who most embodied these principles a self-proclaimed bastard further emphasizes the already subtle-as-a-sledgehammer point.
Spider Jerusalem: I'm sorry, is that too harsh for you? Does that sound too much like the Truth? Fuck you. If anyone in this shithole city gave two tugs of a dead dog's cock about the Truth, this wouldn't be happening.
Why are your kids selling themselves on the streets? Because you completely fucked up the job of raising them.
- #40, "Business", is a stark look at child prostitution and the failings of underfunded social services. Despite the comic's post-cyberpunk setting, the story rings far too true. But the conclusion/anvil that the story comes to:
It's the Journalism of Attachment. It's caring about the world you report on. Some people say that's bad journalism, that there should be a detached, cold, unbiased view of the world in our news media. And if that's what you want, there are security cameras everywhere you could watch footage of.
- "Monstering" also has a good one about journalism and the duty of news media:
"Remember the past, and learn from it, or you are doomed to repeat it."
- Another one was dropped by the Reservations:
- His run on Thunderbolts is basically him railing against the aftermath of Civil War - "No, the police should not be living tactical weapons roaming the streets looking for someone to wail on."
- Black Summer: A lot of people don't like the president, but only a giant prick would actually kill him.
- The entire run of Transmetropolitan was a big, long, anvil about the importance of standing up for The Truth and speaking out for what you believe in, regardless of the personal consequences; and the evils of complacency and blindly accepting authority. Making the character who most embodied these principles a self-proclaimed bastard further emphasizes the already subtle-as-a-sledgehammer point.
- Captain America once was used quite often to address social issues. This tends to involve numerous misinformed people being led on by a few evil people against a few unfairly persecuted people, and Cap trying to resolve things.
"Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — "No, you move.""
- Cap tends to get really pissed off by blind patriotism. He doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. Many storylines state that his Unobtainium shield is reinforced by American righteousness as opposed to ''self''-righteousness.
- Another version was done in What If? #44, which involved Captain America being revived 'today' — or, at least, well after a virulently anti-Communist version had laid claim to the shield and turned America into a rather unpleasant place to live. The resulting fight between the real Captain America and the John Birch Society knockoff was immediately followed by Cap delivering a What the Hell, Hero? to the entire country.
- In the 70's, a number of books like Captain America and The Falcon and Green Lantern / Green Arrow tried to address racism. The stories were usually very heavy-handed, but it must be remembered that at that point there was very little diversity in comics to begin with, and children were still the primary audience. When trying to teach young kids about the horrors of bigotry, subtly wasn't necessarily the best route to take.
- Truth: Red, White & Black is very heavy-handed with its depiction of racism in the 1940's, but of course, the racism in that era was quite ferocious and appalling by today's standards. The actual plot, wherein we learn that the US government tested Captain America's Super Soldier Serum on a group of black soldiers, was directly inspired by the horrific Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
- Most of Grant Morrison's comics (most notably Final Crisis and Flex Mentallo) are tracts speaking against the Dark Age of comics, specifically the idea that comics should mirror Real Life in their violence and morally ambiguous attitudes. Morrison's takes on Superman and Batman are extraordinarily optimistic and straight-forward; Superman is often shown as a borderline God (especially in All-Star Superman) who tirelessly works toward the betterment of mankind, while Batman represents the peak of human ingenuity and intelligence, who can break free from any trap and defeat any villain. The whole thing is a stark and welcome contrast to the Frank Miller ideal of the tortured outcast Batman, and the ultimately ineffectual government puppet Superman.
- The Green Arrow storyline where he discovers that his sidekick is addicted to heroin. During a time when the title had turned into a rather anvilicious series, this particular arc was exceptionally well done and considered a turning point in the character, the series, and even to some extent comics in general being a transport for serious issues. Several anvils are dropped — not just drug-related ones, but Green Arrow's sense of betrayal of responsibility for his friend and his relationships with other superheroes. It's a remarkably deep arc during a time when most superheroes were just going "POW" at the villains.
- In the "Forever" story arc of Powers, Christian Walker goes to show his abilities to Albert Einstein, to ask what they are and where they came from. In their conversation afterwards, Einstein delivers an astoundingly good speech about the nature of the scientific attitude, and afterwards...
Walker: I thought — I thought maybe my story would upset you. I thought that I might be upsetting some of your theories of the—Einstein: Listen to me, my new friend. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. Someone who can no longer pause to wonder, and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.
- A meta example is the Spider-Man comic book arc, "Green Goblin Reborn!", where Spidey encounters the negative effects of drug abuse, with his friend Harry ODing on pills. Despite this, The Comics Code Authority refused to approve the story for having any depiction of drug use — even when it was peppered with Anvilicious anti-drug messages. Stan Lee decided to publish the stories without the CCA seal of approval, and the ensuing public support prompted the CCA to relax its overly-constrictive guidelines.
- On the subject of Spider-Man, it dropped one of the biggest anvils of all: "With great power comes great responsibility."
- Still on the subject of Spider-Man, though for the Miles Morales incarnation, comes a moment where during a fight Miles' ruined costume reveals his skin color (though thankfully not his identity), and footage of this was uploaded on the internet by a girl who promptly start making a massive deal over the idea of a "Black Spider-Man". Miles is understandably miffed by this, because for starters he's half-Hispanic and, although he doesn't put in the exact words, he doesn't want to be recognized simply for his race because it ignores all his accomplishments and actions in favor of something so trivial as skin color.
Miles Morales: "This is- I don't want to be the Black Spider-Man. I want to be Spider-Man.
- Speaking of Stan Lee, he's made it clear that Marvel's staff runs the gamut of political beliefs, and that Marvel itself has no political stance... except for one ideal. Stan Lee always tried to push a message of tolerance in his work, and encouraged all of Marvel's staff to do the same, even if it makes some of their readers uncomfortable. While not everyone has followed this example, just the fact that he's encouraged such a message, and how he's fought for it so hard, lends weight to the anvil.
- The darkest story arc of The Punisher MAX, "The Slavers", includes a lot of information — including a lecture, with slides — about the sex slave trade. It's also the story wherein Frank is shown to be absolutely brutal and unrelenting, well beyond his normal extremes, exemplified with the line "It had been a long time since I had hated anyone as much as I hated them."
- The two issues of Zot! in which Terry comes out to herself and Woody pens an editorial about the attack on a young man presumed gay.
- The first story arc of Wonder Woman Vol. 2 drops the same anvil as The Day After, with Diana showing Ares that his plans to start World War III would leave him with nobody to worship him. Later, the "Who Killed Mindi Mayer" issue delves into drug use by revealing that Mindi technically wasn't murdered; she died from a cocaine overdose before her attempted killer pulled the trigger.
- The moral of Watchmen is that morality is itself ambiguous. Hammered home extra hard by the death of Rorschach, perhaps the only remaining morally absolutist vigilante.
"I leave it entirely in your hands."
- Also, life is a precious, fragile thing, and we should be grateful for every day we get.
- Moral absolutism is bad. So are rape and child abuse.
- Dr. Manhattan's story arc has a very touching moral that stands in defiance of most cynical viewpoints: sure, the universe can get along without us, but we are still unique, both as individuals and as the only sapient life-forms on the only planet known to harbor life, and we deserve to protect and care for it and each other.
- The whole reason X-Men exists: you shouldn't be afraid of someone because they're different. Different people are people too - some are bad, some are good, and some are neither. Don't pigeonhole huge groups of people.
- X-Men is also largely about the world's "good" mutants managing to band together and prove to the world that their powers can be used for good, no matter how many psychopathic mutants decide to abuse their gifts. Even when mutants have every reason to hate humanity, and could conquer the world if they chose to do so, they are always capable of choosing a higher path and working for the good of society for no other reason than that it's the right thing to do. Example? Just check Magneto's track record.
- Another anvil dropped is that just because someone hates you does not mean you shouldn't do the right thing and help them.
- While the Chick Tracts have been infamous for being Anvilicious in a negative way, one particular tract, "Why No Revival?", provided a positive one. Instead of criticizing unbelievers (or Catholics), in a tract that was explicitly directed at Christians (and states that it is NOT for the unsaved), he instead criticized Christians who were afraid to admit their faith and beliefs to their peers. In contrast, he shows the ancient martyrs who were under the threat of death and yet were not afraid to say that they were Christians. In the tract, he criticized the hypocrisies of some Christians and shows why many churches faced various spiritual problems and no revival. Even if Jack Chick is woefully out to lunch on a lot of things, he knows this topic very well.
- The main Aesop of Scott Pilgrim is that if you've made mistakes in the past, you shouldn't run away from them, but rather accept those flaws to become a better person and avoid making the same mistakes all over again.
- Kingdom Come is a brutal, heavy-handed Deconstruction of the The Dark Age of Comic Books with a decidedly apocalyptic tone that can come across as needlessly Anvilicious to modern comic fans. But considering the state of the comic book industry at the time of its publication, a subtler Take That! might not have had the same effect. For this reason, many fans actually cite Kingdom Come as the definitive end of the Dark Age.
- Early 2000AD strips could be very heavy-handed on the issue of Fantastic Racism, but given the popularity of far-right groups in 1970s Britain and the views they held, it was an anvil that needed to be dropped.
- This still continues to recent strips: Judge Dredd, in one of his few truly heroic moments, forced Mega-City One to change its policies on Mutants at the risk of his own reputation and that of the Chief Judge.
- Strontium Dog deals with racism against mutants about as subtly as Wulf Stenhammer swings Der Happy Stick, but considering that apartheid was still in full force, it was probably necessary.
- Kitty Pryde seems to have a gift for this:
- In one famous issue, after a mutant friend commits suicide over harassment, Kitty gives an impassioned speech about the nature of words and how they hurt, even rattling off a list of derogatory slurs to make her point.
- In another example, after being asked by an African-American man if she's a mutie, Kitty fires back asking if he's a nigger. When the man (obviously) takes offense, Kitty makes the point that the slur "mutie" is just as offensive to her.
- After the controversial "M-Word" speech scene in Uncanny Avengers #5 that was full of Unfortunate Implications about minority politics, Brian Bendis, himself a Jewish writer, responded in All-New X-Men #13 by having Kitty (a Jewish woman) give a page-long speech that highlighted everything that was wrong with said scene.
- Mark Waid dropped a lovely anvil in Daredevil #11, in which Daredevil delivered an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech to The Punisher's female partner, shooting down her contention that heroes can only be driven by tragedy. Given the popular trend toward heroes being defined by tragedy, Daredevil's comments seem downright meta;
"Don't you ever say that to me, ever again! That is a repellent statement. It's a vomitous insult to every cop, every fireman, every soldier who steps up to fight for those who can't! I am sorry for your loss, but if you genuinely believe that only the death of a loved one can motivate a human being to take up a cause... then get your pathetic, cynical ass out of my way so I can do my job!"
- X-Men #141 and #142, the "Days of Future Past" arc, drops one hard, though not in words: Whatever resources you put into keeping another group down are unavailable for lifting yourself up. Hatred and prejudice are terrible bases for policy and society.
- In Violine, the underlying themes are the evils of African dictatorships, the prevalence of death squads and endless revolutions, exploitation of the poor and African natives by powerful (white) European companies, and greed at the cost of third-world nations.
- Superman has enthralled generations of comic book readers for over half a century because his story is one of the most unsubtle and in-your-face arguments for the Power of Good in the history of fiction. Even with enough strength to rival most militaries, Superman selflessly works to protect people of every race, culture, class and creed, he turns aside every chance at using his gifts for wealth or power, and he acts with genuine compassion and humanity in all things—despite having been born on a world light-years from Earth. Why? Because doing the right thing is a choice, and everyone is capable of making that choice. And from those who have much to give, much is demanded.
- The Disney Mouse and Duck Comics do it, once in a while:
- The underlying theme of the story "Paperinik il Diabolico Vendicatore" is that when you insult and humiliate someone continuously, one day he may retaliate and make you pay with interest (the days of Paperinik New Adventures are still away).
- The science fiction saga "The Frontier Chronicles" drop a big one when Mickey flunks the Academy in spite of his excellent grades because he's too short to be a space pilot and goes into depression, leaving his friends and reducing himself to a hobo: O'Hara tricks him into getting a job as an archivist and see reports of multiple tragedies to show him that "There's people who has it much worse, yet they don't give up but continue fighting! Thus you, honor student of the Academy, have no right to just give up like that!"
- Another from "The Frontier Chronicles", shown through Pete and Trudy's Heel–Face Revolving Door: you can't redeem those who don't want to be redeemed.
- Paperinik New Adventures drops one in the one episode of the regular series where he appears: you are what you choose to be. Shown when Trip's evil future counterpart and the whole Bad Future are undone by Trip simply declaring to his future self that he would never be like him.
- The same episode drops another: if you can stop a bad thing from happening but you don't, you're an accomplice and blaming others for it will end to ruin you. After all, it's Paperinik pointing out that the Gryphon, Trip's future self, could have used his Time Machine to prevent his father's death instead of blaming it on Paperinik that prompts Trip to see the Gryphon as the monster he is, especially when someone completely different prevents the Raider's (Trip's father) death.
- Cross Ange Futatsu Sekai No Border: Norma are humans, too, but they can become "savage monsters" if broken enough. Even after the Light of Mana disappeared, said deranged monsters roam the land massacring civilians, cannibalizing them and consuming their blood. Mana users, on the other hand, can learn to become human by learning how to stand up for themselves. By achieving true independence, they've managed to become far better people.
- Star Trek Voyager: Rose and the Yew Tree is a bomb raid of anvils dropped well: Civilized does not mean moral. Tolerance repaid with prejudice breeds resentment. The enemy is no different than you. Principles guide us when we lack data. Live in the now. Stories are important... That and much more. Oh so much more. Anvilicious because it's told. Effective because it's shown. Possibly best fan fiction ever written. Required reading for anyone who can tolerate SF.
- In the Daria/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover Bird With Black Wings (set in the Crapsack World that is the shared-world series Daylight, set after a civilization-extinction level event caused by massive solar flares), the members of the Legion get into a debate on whether they should revoke their rule on killing. The discussion is turned by Julia Carlyle, who gives a Patrick Stewart Speech on how she, as a military officer, has it in her job description to kill, but how others expect the Legionnaires to hold fast to their standards, even in the toughest of times. She even paraphrases Tom Clancy in a Crowning Moment of Awesome at the end of her speech:
- Julia Carlyle: “There’s a passage I read in a book long ago. I’m paraphrasing just a bit – but the meaning is something I’ve always remembered. `So we don’t have a choice. You can name any reason you want, but it all comes down to the same thing; we have a debt of honor to the man who brought all of us together, and the people who believe that we stand for something more. If we don’t defend that principle, we don’t defend anything. And nobody will trust us, and nobody will respect us, not even ourselves. If we turn our backs on them by deciding to kill, then we are not the people we say we are, and everything we’ve ever done is a lie.’”
- Two back-to-back Malcolm in the Middle one-shot fics each drop an anvil that needed to be dropped, both of which blatantly deconstruct the show's general aesop. The first, Gravestone, drops one on Lois to take a look at her life and her character, and ask herself if that's the kind of person she wants people to think of her as at her funeral. The second, Life Is Short!, drops one on Malcolm, asking him if it's really worth trying to please the very people who abused him his whole life, and to financially support such a family that already squanders the money they themselves make. Even though potential is a good thing to strive for, and getting into an Ivy League school is not something everyone has the privilege of, he ought to reconsider his prior decision to go along with his parents' wishes.
- StarCrossed, a Lucky Star fanfic about the main girls' future lives going to hell, teaches how a lack of morals and self-respect can have one disastrous consequence after another and destroy one's future beyond repair. Don't get mad and burn bridges! Don't cheat your way through life! If you suspect a relationship will eventually turn toxic, put your foot down and say "NO!" to it! Don't leave little kids home unattended! Don't sell your body! Your actions will affect yourself and other people, not least of all your loved ones.
- And most of all, don't break promises of friendship. If you've got problems, share it with those you can trust, for you don't know what you really have until it's gone.
- The comedic My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic "Twilight Sparkle Discovers Wikipedia" devotes its final lines to a filibuster about the education system. For context, Wikipedia in-story manifests as a Great Big Book of Everything that tempts Twilight with its ease of use. After she writes to Celestia about it, the latter is displeased and sends her back to Magic Kindergarten so she can re-learn the basics of studying. After Luna questions why the book is so dreaded, Celestia remarks:
“Luna, how many times must I remind you! The Wikipedia is scorned because it's too easy! And we as teachers and mentors dislike more than anything our students researching an assignment the easy way! Everything must be long and tedious. Otherwise, they'll begin to notice how pointless most of the work we give them really is! Is this what you desire, Luna? Young ponies questioning our brilliant education system?"
- The fanfiction My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Burned Bridges drops an anvil several times about how Sugar Blossom has to own up to the fact she left behind her friends with no contact over the past few years, as well as the consequences of doing so. However, at the same time, it shows that even though Sugar Blossom burned her bridges with her friends, true friends won't just abandon her when she tries to make amends, especially if you're genuinely sorry for having hurt them so. It's not very subtle about it either.
- The Lucky Star fanfic Bonds describes how school massacres take place, and how everyone is at fault for it. Even though they cannot truly be justified, you really can't blame Izumi for losing all hope in life and wanting to just end it on a literal bang. Blame her parents, for demanding perfection from her and imposing their will on her to inherit their company instead of letting her make her own decisions and accepting her for how much she was capable of achieving; the Hunt Club, for the way everyone in it treated her; anyone else who knew what was going on, for not speaking up; the school, for most likely refusing to do anything about it; and the police, for doing jack shit to save anyone from her rampage. Honor is a big deal in Japan, and in no situation does it rear its ugly head higher than here, with everybody paying the price for what certain students did to her and her fellow otaku and the lack of action taken by the school faculty.
- The writing.com campfire fanfic Turtles in Distress Features the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is about visiting an alternate universe similar to Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind stories, with the genetically engineered 'Humanimals' who are created to serve the Humans. It's something of a deconstruction of Smith's stories, mostly the Happiness is Mandatory part, with the Human Citizens being 'conditioned' to not feel sympathy for the slaves. The conditioning is not effective, so in order to compensate, the Lord and Ladies keep on conditioning their citizens until they are unable to feel anything other than hatred. The Universe the Turtles are visiting is currently going through a civil war with The Federation who wants to liberate Humanimals, and The Empire who stubbornly cling to the old ways. The big anvil, however, is showing just how ugly and brutally dehumanizing slavery is. The Turtles are put in a situation where they can't fight back, no 'Bust out some ninja moves and save the day.' Here, if they try to fight their captors, they are dead, and the fact that they are regarded as an inferior lower caste simply because they are Petting Zoo People is a pretty big blow for Leo and Raph's pride in this story. They don't save themselves; the Federation Humanimals rescue them and all the other Humanimals in the 'Slave Academy.' The only real fighting any of the Turtles do is when Mikey beats to death an overseer trying to have his way with an Okapi Girl, and at that point they're all but rescued.
- Marie D. Suesse And The Mystery New Pirate Age! has the author reference this trope in response to a reviewer.
Phalanx: "this story is in some ways a modern-day version of a dark fairy tale and it is in keeping with the tone of those kind of stories. They weren't particularly subtle about their aesops. If you're familiar with TV Tropes, there's one that goes 'Some Anvils Need to be Dropped'. I think this fic drops whole hailstorm of them.
- Parting Words drops a lot of anvils on the handling of the issue of bullying. The Cutie Mark Crusaders point out the many times they had been bullied by Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon and how Applejack never stepped in to help even when it was happening in front of her. Princess Celestia (in disguise) also points out how the "fighting back or standing up for yourself in any way makes you just as bad as the bullies" mentality is a very toxic and downright morally confusing thing to pass on to genuine victims of bullying, and even wonders just where that line of thinking came from.
Celestia: "When I was a fil... ahem, when I was younger, a bully was somepony who picked on those who hadn't done anything to them. And any negative consequence they suffered was because they invited it on themselves by being bullies. Have things really changed so that just standing up to somepony who's hurting you gets you called a bully?"
- The sequel, The Great Alicorn Hunt, also viciously deconstructs the notion that School Bullying Is Harmless. For one thing, Twilight admits to her own experiences with bullying, and that it still does affect her to the present day. Babs even points out that just simply telling an adult about the bullying is not going to stop bullies from continuing their behavior, especially when said bullies have the means to get away with it. Also, as a Call-Back, when Breezy Shy stands up for the CMC and Babs against Babs' Manehatten bullies by beating them up, he gets called out on it by Fluttershy, who says that it reminds her of how nasty she got when she took her assertiveness training too far, Breezy argues that there is a big difference between standing up for yourself and just being a jerkass.
- We're Gonna Get There Soon drops a LOT of well-needed anvils: Don't judge people simply by one thing. There's more to a person than just their flaws. Get the whole picture. Different and stupid don't mean the same thing. If your "friends" are being mean to someone you love to the point of laughing at them when they have a near death experience, then they're NOT friends at all, and behavior like that is NOT acceptable.
- Pony Pov Series drops the message You Are Not Alone like a sledgehammer to the balls (especially during the Nightmare Whisper and Shining Armor Arcs), yet considering the goal of the cast is to rebuild the world after the horrors that Discord has caused, (and in the aforementioned arcs, Fluttershy had gone full Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds and Shining had been hit with one Heroic B.S.O.D. after another), it's just what the doctor ordered.
- Relating to the above Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds moment, a recurring theme is that repressing mental trauma instead of dealing with it in a healthy manner is a really bad idea.
- Yet another anvil often glossed over in these kinds of stories is that nature can be a cruel thing. In fact, repressing that truth caused Fluttershy's "moment".
- Especially in the Shining Armor Arc and the Dark World Arc, there's a big emphasis on how you should avoid falling into He Who Fights Monsters.
- A major theme of the Wedding Arc is the deconstruction of Always Chaotic Evil with the Changelings, and the dangers of painting an entire race as inherently evil like that.
- This Avatar: The Last Airbender fan comic. It says everything in one page about how all people, even those at opposite ends of a world war or who live in entirely different places, are Not So Different.
- In Final Fantasy VII fanfic Off The Line Cloud initially assumes that the sexual harassment he faces is due to his very Stripperiffic attire that he is forced to wear. This assumption is shot to hell when he sees Flowernote , who's wearing a conservative pretty dress that covers her from neck to toe, being sexually harassed by a bunch of guys who try to coerce her into joining their party. He then realizes that clothing doesn't provoke sexual harassment, people are just assholes who will harass you if they think you are attractive.
- Twilight Pretty Cure shows what can happen if someone lets hatred, grief, and a lust for revenge completely consume their life to the point of making really bad decisions that have both personal and catastrophic consequences. But it also points out that even if you do have good intentions for making certain decisions, if you don't do proper research or take necessary precautions, the outcome will be very different from what you expect (i.e. Rozaniela citizens stealing orphaned babies from Earth and raising them as their own), and you'll end up having to pay for the consequences. Basically, every choice, right or wrong, has consequences. It is also very critical of ableism and conveys the message that disabled people deserve just as much respect as the rest of us - which is extremely ironic as this didn't stop people from accusing it of being ableist and offensive.
- Another good moral it presents is this: If something bad has happened to you, such as a sibling getting kidnapped and brainwashed into becoming a villain's slave, don't fixate so much on it to the point of completely letting your angst consume you, as it distracts you from not only what's important, but keeps you from taking action. Take action, because if you don't, nothing will change. And don't keep your pain inside, either. Talk to someone about your problems, even if society tells you not to because they claim its inappropriate.
- Shatterheart drops the message that regardless whether your love is destined or was the most important person, you can always move on and find in your heart to love someone else. Syaoran was literally destined for Sakura and the plot of the story started with his dedication to save her. With her being gone for years and the journey to rescue her brought Syaoran nothing but misery until he begins to fall for Kurogane. The decision is painful but Syaoran decide to move from Sakura and to be with Kurogane and is better off for it. Syaoran's father and Sakura herself are both shocked by this but accept it as Syaoran is truly happy.
- Don't take your loved ones for granted. Fai learns this painfully when his anger and bitterness over Clone!Syaoran's betrayal and Kurogane's Unwanted Rescue nearly drove Real!Syaoran and Kurogane away from him. To make matters worse, his feelings for Kurogane go unrequited as Kurogane falls in love with Real!Syaoran. Fai has to work hard to make amends for what he did but they do forgive him and do not abandon him as he feared, seeing his genuine remorse.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic Kin of Heart: Xander calls Angel out on his attraction to Buffy because he's an adult while she's still a child. Xander even calls him a pedophile to his face. Angel tries to rationalize it as Xander being a jealous child at first. But he realizes Xander's point when he realizes that he sees Xander as a child but doesn't see Buffy as one. Once Angel had some time, he realizes that he was so infatuated with her that he overlooked that she was still a girl.
- The Conversion Bureau deconstructions drive home the point that destroying a culture is still genocide, even if there were no deaths.
- Not to mention, many of them also unsubtly hammer home the point that negative emotions are just as important as positive emotions.
- Poké Wars is extremely unsubtle about how War Is Hell and how starting a war for "righteous" reasons inevitably leads to suffering and death.
- Most harem anime, Love Hina being an infamous example, love to exploit Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male as a way to get a cheep laugh where a woman usually beats on a male, to different degrees, and it's depicted as funny, not very serious or even a deserving punishment. Love Hina Double Trouble, a fanfic that crosses over said harem anime with Kamen Rider Double, pretty much says stop that shit when a murder victim is found viciously killed near Hinata-Sou. The kicker? The victim is a confirmed pervert, causing the police to immediately arrest Naru and Motoko in spite of their clams of innocence. It's pushed in even more as both of them are formally processed at the police station, as their attacks have made them prime suspects. It's revealed that Granny Hina has been intervening for them for years, which is why they have never been arrested prior- and even then they both have very long rap sheets. They eventually do get proven innocent, but they both learn that beating on "vile males" made them much worse than any pervert and become better all the more for it.
- Mall Rats, a The Loud House fanfic, drops the anvil of why you should never hesitate to spend time with a sibling when they ask you to. Lincoln dreads going on a trip to the mall with Leni, but not only does he have fun, but he learns that there's a lot more to her than he initially thought.
- Let the Storm Rage On, a Frozen fanfic, has Hans repeatedly hammer home his belief that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility when one is in power. And shirking responsibility, or the consequences of poorly used power, is the epitome of poor rulership. He hammers this to Elsa in response to her accidental freezing of Arendelle, and how she hid away from the world while she was growing up. It comes off as a necessary Tough Love bit of advice, rather than being preachy.
- Her Inner Demons drops a serious message that the meek girl in the corner does have feelings too, and bullying them can turn them vengeful and angry. The Shadowbolts couldn't believe Sci-Twilight could become Midnight Sparkle and are abashed when explains that she was becoming increasingly vindictive well before the Friendship Games due to all the abuse, and that the Shadowbolts only made things worse to the point where she became as power hungry as Sunset was, and thus could be swayed by the dark side of her mind into becoming Midnight Sparkle as the magic was consuming her.
- Why Am I Crying:
- Bullying is an issue that needs to be seriously dealt with, but bullies themselves aren't automatically soulless, amoral monsters. They're still people too.
- Everything and everyone changes overtime, for better or for worse, more than once.
- If you can't bring yourself to forgive someone for their transgressions, that is completely okay. At the same time, don't become consumed by hatred over them, as it can harm both you and those who care about you. Just move on, for they may not end up mattering in the long run.
- Bitter Tears An Anon A Miss Fic:
- The fic does a much better job at potraying the effects of cyberbullying than the original canon counterpart did; even when the culprits are caught, everybody still has to live with the consequences and stigma associated with what has happened and it's made clear that none of this stuff will go away anytime soon.
- In real life, Easily Forgiven is extremely rare and it CANNOT be applied to acts of betrayal.
- If you perform a serious offense against somebody (intentionally or not), you have to accept that they have to take time to forgive you no matter how remorseful you are. You also have to accept that in some cases, they may NEVER be able to forgive you.
- Bottling up your emotions and ignoring a problem will not make it go away. In fact, it's far more likely to make everything worse. You need to be honest with yourself and others about your feelings and accept that there is a problem before you can fix it.
- Being angry at people for cyberbullying is understandable, but you will be punished if you physically assault them because that is NOT acceptable no matter what they had done.
- Getting Back on Your Hooves drops several.
- One is that accepting help when your in a desperate situation does NOT make you weak, and that you should open up to people who want to help you.
- Two is that while you should be suspicious of someone who has wronged you in the past, attacking that individual when they are trying to get their life together is also wrong.
- In For Better or for Worse:
- Grandpa was still conscious and aware, but was being treated as an infant after a stroke. It's treated with all the subtlety of an anvil... but this anvil really needed to be dropped, since this actually does happen in real life.
- Shannon's Author Filibuster about the mentally handicapped - it's dropped with all the subtlety of an anvil, but it really needed to be said. Mentally handicapped people are still people, people with feelings, and people who need love.
- A September 1993 storyline focused on Michael and his friends joining a protest against a student bus fare hike. However, they're mostly doing it for fun, as they get to block rush hour traffic and shout slogans at the police. After it ends, John picks them up (angry at their involvement after seeing it on the news) and tells them what the bus fare hike is about; the 30% bus fare hike is a gradual raise for the next three years (something that the city voted in favor for last spring) and the new fares mean that someone could travel twice as far, meaning that the protest was pointless and detrimental. The lesson? Don't join a protest unless you know all the facts, and if you are going to do a protest don't do it for fun.
- Peanuts definitely had a few things to say in its long run:
- Charles Schultz stated that the whole point of Linus' Security Blanket was to teach readers that forcing kids out of their childish yet otherwise harmless habits will not help them grow up, and will most likely do more harm than good.
- Linus' lesser-known habit of patting birds on the head drops a similar anvil. Throughout the Story Arc, everyone who saw Linus doing that told Lucy "Your brother pats birds on the head", which prompts Lucy to demand that Linus stop it. Linus is bewildered that people would have a problem with something that only alleviates the birds' depressions and in turn gives Linus a great sense of fulfillment. When he asks just what is wrong with it, all Charlie Brown can give for an answer is "no-one else does it!"
- Furthermore, Lucy herself seems to be the only one who actually has any issues with the thing. The people who told Lucy presumably may just wanted to let her know (if they had any issue, they probably would've told Linus themselves and Linus' shock implies no one has mentioned it before.) It does ultimately point out that sometimes problems that aren't really problems are only problems because people make them out to be.
- One episode of Monday Night Raw leading up to Unforgiven in September 2008 had Shawn Michaels drop an anvil that might, from some angles, appear a Family-Unfriendly Aesop, but that is one that countless Wide-Eyed Idealists out there desperately need to accept if they're ever going to get on with their lives. After Chris Jericho had smashed Shawn's head into a video screen and repeatedly jabbed him in the eye, half-blinding him and nearly ending his career, and then punched his wife Rebecca in the mouth and temporarily disfigured her - and had refused to apologize for any of this, claiming that Michaels had it all coming to him - Michaels asserted that some people are so wicked that they cannot possibly be forgiven, nor ever even want to be. And you can't just ignore them, because then they'll just keep going out to hurt countless more people; sometimes you must seek swift justice, severely punishing or even destroying a menacing human being. Of course, with Jericho's and Michaels's feud reaching its climax with the "Unsanctioned Match" at Unforgiven (in which both combatants relieved World Wrestling Entertainment from all legal responsibility for what they would do to each other), WWE attempted to have it both ways, having Michaels snap and beat Jericho unconscious, and then continue to assault him even after it had become clear Jericho could no longer defend himself, until Michaels finally managed to experience some remorse. Not to mention Jericho's appearance on Raw the night afterward, stripping down to show the still-unhealed welts on his upper torso where Michaels had thrashed him repeatedly with a strap and "questioning" how a born-again Christian like Michaels could do such things.
- Michaels actually had to learn a lot of lessons, especially given his penchant for Aesop Amnesia. Just a few months after the Jericho incident, his family lost all its money in unsound investments (this was the autumn of 2008, remember) and he desperately needed a second job. John "Bradshaw" Layfield "generously" took Michaels on as an employee, only to force him to compromise all his integrity by repeatedly helping JBL cheat to win the World Heavyweight Championship. At one point, none other than The Undertaker confronted Michaels about this, warning that "Sometimes it's hell getting to heaven." Rarely have truer words about the basic human condition (even if that human is a Superstar) been spoken.
- Bullying is wrong. Both men and women can be guilty of it (shame on you, LayCool), and even the seemingly most powerful and confident individuals can fall victim to it (with one particularly heartrending subplot being about the Big Show being bullied). This is a lesson WWE considers so important that they don't restrict their preaching of it to just their entertainment division.
- Adventures in Odyssey does this every episode rather well. In fact, they've perfected it.
- In the Superman radio show of the 40s, there is a fairly famous serial in which Superman takes on an expy for the The Klan, complete with their real-life ranks and secret phrases. This radio show was used to expose the Ku Klux Klan for what it really was; a terrorist organization that had to be disbanded ASAP. It even went and revealed the identities of individual Klansmen, hoping to induce good-hearted people to go after the Klansmen themselves and harass them until they were too broken to so much as spit upon a black man. It Worked. Suddenly, the Ku Klux Klan was forced to disband in the face of overwhelming shame, public ridicule, and vicious assaults on its members. They've never managed to regain their former power since then. In fact, the NSA lists them as a "subversive organization", the same designation given to the Animal Liberation Front and other "homegrown" terror organizations; and one can lose or be denied security clearance by becoming affiliated with the "nightie knights".
- On the radio show The Saint, during the episode "Author of Murder", Vincent Price (the voice of Simon Templar) delivered an unsubtle yet eloquent message on the evils of prejudice and racism.
- The Brewing Network's Justin's explanation why he thinks people who try to get away with drunk driving are stupid. He went through his past, explaining his experiences, and drove home over and over that he has no respect for anyone who drunk drives and will call out anyone who tries. Given that the BN has a lot of heavy drinkers as its listeners, it was a good way of making a point of the sort of behavior that the BN tolerates. Justin makes a point of having their Winterfest near public transport and letting designated drivers in free for this reason.
- Exalted has, as setting rules: that some actions can never truly taken back, and that while violence can be an attractive or even necessary tool, it can not make things better on its own. Rather important gameplay mechanics to drop in when many competing products have teams of murderhobos roaming the field.
- A Doll's House: the anvil, over and over, is that the modern (1870s) state of affairs between men and women robs women of all personhood.
Torvald. There's no one who gives up honor for love.Nora. Millions of women have done just that.
- Brand, and also Peer Gynt. Henrik Ibsen wrote the two plays and published them successively in 1866 and 1867, to underline the point of being either too uncompromising, or being the total opposite (no backbone at all). In Brand, Ibsen is far from subtle, and hammers his message down: The Power of Love is essential when helping out your fellow men in a time of need. Peer Gynt discusses the meaning of "self", also connected to the power of love and the relation to your fellow men. The fourth act in both plays sets up the message of isolation and communication, with the danger of isolated madness as a possible result (in Peer Gynt).
- Both the play and musical versions of Spring Awakening drop the anvil of "if you don't teach kids about sex, they'll do it anyway" several times. They also address the issue of suicide and how much it hurts the people you leave behind, and all the things you'll never get to do - in fact, the musical features a Grief Song called "Left Behind" about exactly this.
- This is clearly working, as there are many stories from adult viewers about how they saw Spring Awakening with their kids and were moved to talk to their children so the events of the play don't happen to them. On the other hand, there are also a lot of stories from fans about how Moritz's suicide and funeral reminded them of their own friends.
- Dog Sees God drops anvils against homophobia, bullying and suicide; while the script sounds like Narm on paper, its performance is powerful.
- South Pacific had a great moment in the song "You've Got to be Carefully Taught." Hate doesn't come naturally, it gets drummed into people in their youth. When some Southerners asked to cut that song, Rodgers and Hammerstein said "If you cut that song, you might as well cut the whole musical."
- From Avenue Q:
"If you were gay
- Everyone's a little bit racist, so chill out and we'll all get along better. Charity feels good.
- Also, it's ok if you don't live up to your dreams right now. You've got your whole life ahead of you, so enjoy it.
that'd be okay
I mean cause hey
I'd like you anyway"
- We Will Rock You pretty much lives off the 'Don't be like everyone else' Aesop.
- Wicked's 'skin colour shouldn't matter' aesop couldn't actually be hammered home any more heavily than it is, and yet it works remarkably well.
- Also, "Don't accept moral compromises, especially not from your leaders," "go out there and fight for what you believe in", and "throw popular opinion out the window".
- Sometimes fate and matters are irreversible. But a moment with a person (the power of friendship) can prove useful for the future. After all, near the ending, Elphaba and Glinda come to terms with the fact that Elphaba's wicked reputation in Oz was irreversible. And a now matured Glinda, changed for good, is left to (positively) reform Oz.
- Don't immediately judge another person. The ditzy, popular, girly girl might turn out to be a good, loyal friend, not a complete bitch, and the Soapbox Sadie might not be a pretentious hipster, but instead a brave woman who is actually willing to go out and fight for what she believes in.
- The message of Into the Woods, as illustrated by the songs 'No More' and 'Children Will Listen', boils down to "Don't screw up your kids, or it WILL come back and bite you in the ass."
- This musical is also one of the best examples of Good Is Not Nice around. Both Little Red Riding Hood and the Witch outright state this in "I Know Things Now" ("And though scary is exciting, nice is different than good") and "Last Midnight" ("You're so nice... you're not good, you're not bad, you're just NICE"), respectively. It's part of what makes the Deconstruction of fairy tales so effective: in classic stories, it's the nice characters who are viewed universally as good. But the heroes of Into the Woods do morally questionable things throughout the whole musical, proving that just because someone acts kind doesn't make them a good person. It also proves the opposite point: everyone assumes the Witch is wicked because of her nasty attitude, but in reality, she's probably the most justified in her actions throughout the whole work—she was saddled with a curse of ugliness and age that she knew next to nothing about (all she was told was not to let anything happen to her mother's special beans), loses her magical powers in exchange for recovering her original youth and beauty, has her home and garden destroyed by the Giantess, and ends up watching her adopted daughter Rapunzel die a horrible death. The Witch is also the one to force the heroes to admit that their self-centered wishes and lack of thought regarding those wishes' consequences are to blame for the horrible mess they made of things.
- Angels in America already has a pretty heavy message about the treatment of homosexuals/people infected with AIDS, but there's one part that's a little different. It's when Hannah Pitt and Prior Walter meet, and Prior realizes that she's Mormon. He comments "I can just imagine what you think of me" (that he's homosexual), and Hannah indignantly tells him off for being so presumptuous about her opinions. She finishes with "You don't make assumptions about me, and I won't make any about you". Incredibly obvious moral about everyone needing to be open-minded? Yep. Quite necessary? Oh yeah.
- Little Shop of Horrors drops its anvil of "Don't give into temptation" very well, especially through its finale song, "Don't Feed The Plants".
- It wasn't the original main purpose of the play, but Inherit the Wind has a powerful message about the value of human reason over unthinking faith:
Drummond: "In a child's power to master the multiplication table, there is more sanctity than in all your shouted "amens" and "holy holies" and "hosannas." An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters."
- Another made to Hornbeck at the end: freedom of thought includes the freedom to be wrong. Even good men can have bad ideas.
- The 2013 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has plenty of the source novel's vital anvils on selfishness, gluttony, greed, etc. intact or given a clever Setting Update. But the biggest ones it drops both build on the original and give the story a much stronger Central Theme: The transformative power of imagination.
- The naughty kids can be seen to represent anyone who spends their life mindlessly consuming and chasing fleeting, empty pleasures — food (Augustus), possessions (Veruca), fame (Violet), shallow, instant-gratification media (Mike), what have you — often with dreadful consequences. By comparison, Charlie makes the best of his meager lot in life with the help of his imagination and his loving family, and wants to create things. This makes him an excellent candidate to inherit the amazing world within the titular factory... a world that we learn sprang up not from a desire for fame and fortune, but an ache to make the world a more colorful, beautiful place in their own way (even if others don't understand it). Put simply: Cultivating one's creativity and sharing it with others is a path to true happiness, a path even the humblest soul can take.
- There's also a secondary, related aesop: Be appreciative of those who cultivate their creativity and share it. Charlie is as puzzled by Mr. Wonka's eccentricity as anyone, but he's the only one of the kids who treats him with kindness and respect, in part because he understands just how wonderful his creations and world really are. This turns out to mean a great deal to Mr. Wonka.
- In "Naughty," a song from the musical Matilda, the main character comments that while toughing out the hard times is occasionally necessary, always doing that leads to nothing ever getting better: "If I always take on the chin and wear it/nothing will change." It's not subtle, but it's powerful, as it encourages people to make things happen, rather than waiting for their situations to improve.
- The whole musical also advocates that "sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty"—in other words, you occasionally have to break the rules if it means fighting for equality or getting yourself out of a bad situation. Civil rights activists would be proud.
- A very short one in Romeo and Juliet, but Romeo drops an important point when he's at the apothecary and is paying the poor shopkeeper-money makes more people die than poison, and is just as bad, if not even worse, than poison.
There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls,Doing more murder in this loathsome world,Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.I sell thee poison. Thou hast sold be none.
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love;And I, for winking at your discords too,Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish’d.
- The play also points out the utter harm lifelong family feuds can do, especially when young people are sucked into them. The Prince points out how it was ultimately the feud that drove Romeo and Juliet to the grave.
- Richard III has the anvil that absolute monarchy is a terrible form of government because there is no way for the system to prevent a tyrant from coming to power, and that even if the king is benevolent the country isn't safe, because an aspiring tyrant would have no reason not to kill everyone closer in line to the throne than he. Considering the time in which the play was written, it's definitely a case of Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- Cabaret drops a big anvil near the end about how politics can and will affect you. Also if you just blindly accept what one group does, you may as well be with them.
- The Merchant of Venice: The play, particularly the affronts Shylock goes through, can be interpreted as sharp indictment of antisemitism.
- The Ace Attorney series has a running theme of To Be Lawful or Good, as might well be expected of games centered around the legal system. The anvil comes at the very end of the fourth game in the main series, where both the Judge and the prosecutor of that game explain outright that Good is always the right choice over Lawful, because the law is always changing... and that we have a responsibility to stand up and work to change the law if the law is wrong, for the sake of anyone else who might have to face that law. Given how many protagonists are idealized for breaking laws they don't like, it's nice to hear from the other perspective on this, and leaving it as a subtle theme rather than stating it firmly would have been far less effective.
- Katawa Shoujo has a different aesop for each girl's path, as well as a couple over-arching ones for the game as a whole, and while they are varying degrees of Anvilicious, pretty much all of them needed to be dropped.
- Broken Saints is loaded with these, most notably about the treatment of third world countries by first world industry.
- There she is!! - There's no need to stand in the way of love.
- Some say its anvil is more specifically about the animosity between Koreans and Japanese that remains to this day. Certainly needs to be dropped either way, since this issue isn't addressed very often.
- Step 4 specifically: Backing down under societal pressure will not make things better.
- Dumb Ways to Die is one. "Be safe around trains..."
- The sequel video to Don't Hug Me I'm Scared leaves us a doozy of an aesop. This time around, instead of the Sketchbook from the first video, we instead are introduced to an anthropomorphic clock named Tony. He takes the puppets from the first video on a journey through time as a means to teach them that they had all the time in the world to watch their show. However, as the video progressed, Tony began to emphasize more and more the importance of time. While emphasizing, he has a tight grip on the other puppets, and he wanted them to follow his rules and not think for themselves. In the climax of the video, Tony uses time to rapidly age the puppets. When one of the puppets begged him to make it stop, Tony states that he couldn't. He then gives this line towards the end:
Tony: It's out of my hands, I'm only a clock, but don't worry, I'm sure you'll be fine. But eventually, everyone runs out of time.
- Essentially, the moral of the video is that life is too short and too precious to waste. If you desire to do anything meaningful in life, you should do it right now, before your time runs out.
- Jim, the creator behind Neurotically Yours, drops some not so subtle scenes over how Germaine is sexually treated by people in general. Examples include random jizz shots on her for no reason, a stalker who keeps objectifying her, objectifying herself, etc. Eventually, Germaine snaps and is sent to an asylum to recover. Jim points out via author's note that the whole point behind the seemingly increasing sexual scenes is to show how most men look at and treat women like sexual objects while society pressures women into becoming an ideal beauty for men to appreciate (slim body and large breasts and butt). Jim also points out that even though Germaine is a cartoon character, people on the internet still looked at her as their own sexual fantasies, proving his point on how women of any kind are treated.
- Chess Piece seems to be trying to get across the message that being purely idealistic or purely a cynic is a bad thing.
- The webcomic White Noise is one of the many series that makes use of Fantastic Racism as a metaphor for Real Life racism but just like HarryPotter, it shows a long history of it and how it has affected people. Furthermore, it manages to show how it hurts both sides of the issue with monsters being arrested and treated with discrimination out of humans' blind fear and in turn, humans being seen as distrustful and unchangeably evil by monsters due to the discrimination.
- Sexual identity can form at an early age, with the main character making her feeling clear when she was a young child.
- Sex and gender identity has more shades than many people think. This is made especially clear when not even the author, a trans woman herself, realized how many variations of the LGBT spectrum there were before she started doing research for the comic, making her plan to include a character of every variation a bit more difficult.
- Later, after Heather reveals that she has CAIS, the author preemptively shuts up any commenters who would say that the story is becoming "unrealistic" when someone comes out, and that it's even being downplayed.
- It shouldn't matter if a friend or family member is gay, bi, trans, etc., you should love and support them all the same, and being gay isn't a choice or "trend". Also, teachers should be role models to their students.
- Tearjerker ahead. Yes, trans people are indeed the victims of hate crimes and murder. This comic also drives home that trans people are prone to commit suicide, that it's not a condition to be "cured", and that any attempt to do so would be comparable to "curing" eye color.
- A major theme of the comic is that trans people, and others on the LGBT spectrum are more common than some people think.
- Sunstone is all about averting Bondage Is Bad and showing healthy and accurate BDSM relationships. This strip in particular is about the differences between common perceptions and reality, and that BDSM sessions should be planned out in advance in order to prevent any mishaps.
- Every once in a while, xkcd takes a moment to get serious, or even to get funny on a serious topic, and lay down an important truth or two.
- Suicide for Hire of all strips has a really good one, both about where you have to draw the line and stand up to bigots, and where you have to draw the line and stand up against sexual harassment. All in one day; with liberal (and hilarious) application of Full Metal Jacketed Questions and the Ultraviolence both times.
- Something*Positive has a comic that really drives home the point of how absurd racism is.
- Many anvils are dropped in the arc involving Davan's dad and a "Hell House" - a Haunted House aimed at scaring people into accepting Christianity. And yes - they are real. The quote on the last page is especially Anvilicious
R.K. Milholland's Dad: Never confuse the faith with the supposedly faithful.
- Many anvils are dropped in the arc involving Davan's dad and a "Hell House" - a Haunted House aimed at scaring people into accepting Christianity. And yes - they are real. The quote on the last page is especially Anvilicious
- Winston Rowntree, author of Subnormality, often deals with Aesops and Anvils with the subtlety of a falling stack of bricks. While he can get awfully heavy-handed with his messages in his webcomic, he occasionally pulls off an incredibly effective, powerful Anvil. This is exemplified in The Line, a fan favorite which illustrates a chilling, much-needed moral about conformity.
- Also, A Coward's Tale. What initially seems like a trivial, grade-school-level Anvil about courage and overcoming doubt suddenly hits painfully close to home.
- "I Am A Good Person" by DeviantArt artist PaMikoo features adorable, sobbing cartoon schoolchildren in the last panel, but it features a message that some people are remarkably thick-skulled about.
- Misfile uses a Gender Bender story to deliver An Aesop about how Transsexuals deserve toleration.
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", regarding Poison and the fact that she's Transsexual, and how what's in anybody's pants doesn't matter unless you want to get in them.
- El Goonish Shive drops one with Justin - as a gay person with gender bending technology available, he could easily turn into a woman and continue to love men without intolerance. He continues to reject this idea because he is a man, homosexual or not, rejecting the Trans Equals Gay stereotype. There's also Susan's revelation that men aren't constantly horny pigs. In her notebook, she writes how she can no longer blame her father's adultery on his gender.
- It does something similar with the revelation that Tedd is genderfluid, with Grace specifically saying that there's noting wrong with it.
- Sequential Art in strip #176 has this particularly sweet anvil:
Kate: So. Uh... d'you think Hilary looks... good? As... as a pin-up, I mean.Art: Yep. She's got the curves, the saucy smile, the seductive eyes. She's the perfect pin-up. That said; I think she's a troll, with looks but neither the charm nor personality to back 'em up... Probably why she hates you so much. Terrible thing; envy.
- Though it mostly pokes fun at the comic industry, The Gutters really hits a home run in this one about same-sex relationships.
- Cyanide & Happiness ran this strip in December of 2012. It's a rather scathing—but ultimately accurate — critique of the current state of some educational programs, particularly the "everyone gets a prize" mentality. It's also noteworthy for distinguishing the care and love of parents from that of society — your family does consider you special and unique, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the world will automatically do the same. It has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but it resonates loud and clear.
- Sinfest of all series teaches that a serious romantic relationship requires mutual understanding, respect and love. Take a look at Criminy, shy bookworm, the nicest person in the strip, who is in a happy relationship with Fuschia, vs. the ongoing Unresolved Sexual Tension of Slick and Monique.
- This I'm My Own Mascot strip drops a big anvil about the fear of getting old.
- Better Days has those very frequently, with characters calling each other out or explaining their own philosophies and observations.
- People will have wildly different ideas of what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mean, and they will uphold what they believe in in earnest. This means sometimes they’ll wind up in a situation in which their ideals cannot coexist and Violence Is the Only Option.
- Everything Nikki is taught after being adopted and having to undo the damage done by her father.
- Two Aesops appear in two successive comics in chapter 16:
- Lucy’s stint as a radio relationship advisor is this by definition, and two of her pieces of advice apepar onscreen:
- Before you cling to ‘Be Yourself’, have a good look at who ‘yourself’ is.
- Even in a monogamous relationship, people will want to glance at other attractive people — it’s a fact of life that should be tolerated, so long as it doesn’t go any further.
- Marvin Lipschitz delivers several at once at a bachelor/ette party gone awry. Subverted when he says that ‘only most’ male strippers are gay.
- Several are used as recurrent themes:
- Live your own life first and foremost for yourself. This is highlighted in particular when Elizabeth realises how much of her life she’s wasted living for her family and leaves her husband David for Fisk.
- Take responsibility for your own actions. This message is highlighted when Fisk rejects explaining his mother’s and his neighbour’s (who also his best friend’s father) affair as a ‘mistake’.
- Remain optimistic (and alive) and fight for what you believe in — it’ll be a long, hard struggle, and it will demand great sacrifices, but ultimately you’ll Earn Your Happy Ending.
- The Pencilsword strip "On a Plate" compares the lives of two kids: Richard and Paula, both born to loving parents who will do anything for them. The difference? Richard's parents are very well off, able to afford the finest healthcare and education, and have several windows of opportunity open, whereas Paula's parents struggle to make ends meet, and can barely juggle affording education with the bare necessities. Eventually, it becomes easy to think people like Richard earned their way to the top all on their own when they're praised for achievements made possible by their affluence, while people like Paula have been made to count themselves lucky for what little opportunities they can get.
- Foo.ca redid the anti-evolution Chick Tract Big Daddy, and created Who's Your Daddy?. In it, the science teacher (calmly and respectfully, unlike in the original tract) breaks down every fundamentalist argument made by the zealot student against evolution as BS, and drops a solid aesop about why "Christian" science is a crock, and how messed up extreme fundamentalism really is
Science Teacher: “The old, outdated hoaxes or mistakes were proven to be hoaxes and mistakes NOT by Creationists but by … SCIENTISTS! That is what’s great about REAL science: When we make mistakes, we CORRECT them. We do NOT try to fit things to a prejudiced notion. That is what ‘Christian Scientists’ and ‘Creationist’ do. ‘Christian Science’ is an oxymoron, my friend!...In the Bible, Jesus clearly states that if you believe in Him, that you can drink poison and not get sick (Mark 16:17). Wanna drink this glass of Drano and prove your faith?”
- The ordinarily silly, D&D-based The Order of the Stick took a strip following Roy's resurrection where Roy and Celia discuss the latter's inability to be resurrected if she dies (due to her nature as an elemental being) and her subsequent extreme caution regarding combat and action. They eventually reach the conclusion that if people didn't have definite knowledge of resurrection or an afterlife, there would be significantly less war in the world.
- The webcomic Zen Pencils routinely tries to drop the anvil of following your dreams above all else. The comic's review on The Bad Webcomics Wiki devotes a paragraph to point out the inherit flaws in such a line of thinking, pointing out the Awful Truth that the whole world would be screwed if everyone took the comic's advice and treated life like a big "Billy Elliot" Plot:
First and foremost, if you have an office job you should be grateful. You could just as easily be cleaning out shit or being yelled at be a fat woman with her husband's ballsack on her breath about her burger not having enough pickles as her spittle bounces off your face. You should be grateful for anything you have because 100 years ago concepts like "Disposable income" and "Social mobility" didn't exist. Plus, not everyone wants to be an artist! Not everyone is good at art and won't become good just by trying really hard. Some people's idea of happiness is an office job where they make a lot of money and can lord over people. The path to doing what you really want often goes through 20 years pushing papers until you get promoted high enough so you can buy that fucking boat. Not everyone can live off the low salary of an artist and job satisfaction is not always enough. Having a job you really want is often worthless if you come home to a slum and a microwave dinner. Finally, your job isn't supposed to be fun. If work was fun people would have no reason to pay you to do it. What you should strive for is having a job you don't hate that leaves you with enough time and money to spend your hours away from it enjoying yourself with friends and family because that the best most of us can hope for. If everyone just up and quit to follow their pipe dreams the economy would collapse and there sure as hell would be no room left in the art world for a hack like Gavin.
Reading through this comic I noted my own experiences with a liberal Christian church, the one I grew up with. This church had several pastors, one of them a lesbian. It was a church that attacked the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which told children to be tolerant of other faiths, and taught that there was nothing wrong with being a Mormon Christian, or a Catholic, or a Baptist. This church was one of those which taught the Bible as a set of ideas which one could use to better their lives.
- Similarly, the review of After Eden drops a long and well-needed schpiel about how Christian Fundamentalism ultimately brings only damage to the Christian faith.
That church has lost much of its patronage as time has went on. I am not sure why the fire-and-brimstone churches thrive while the mainstream, decent, respectable churches founder. Perhaps it is because those who belong to the more moderate Christian churches, those which tolerate belief in things like evolution and modern science, realize that it isn't necessary to go to church every day, and choose instead to stay home. Perhaps it is because moderates eventually give up on the Reverend Lovejoy mystique, the Marge Simpson-Beaver Cleaver-Good Ol' Fashioned belief that you must go to church every single day or you will go to hell when you die.
But I think, in reality, moderate churches die because of men like Dan Lietha.
As fundies have gradually taken the cultural microphone in our nation, they have taken control of our perception of Christians. Due to the likes of Lietha, Jack Chick, Fred Phelps, televangelists, Focus on the Family, and many more pastors and reverends, the new perception of a Christian individual is a backward, racist, misogynistic, homophobic hypocrite, who condemns gays and calls AIDS a punishment for sin while receiving oral sex from male prostitutes. These people paint a very stark, black-and-white picture for moderate Christians. In their comics like this one, they tell moderate Christians, quite clearly and loudly, that they are either on the evil liberal team or the good Christian team. And, for more and more, they don't want to be associated with God Hates Fags, George W. Bush, Fred Phelps, or fundamentalists.
This is not just an issue of fair-weatherness on the part of moderate Christians. I recall going to church every morning in the hopes of being a better person as a teenager. And, every morning, I would end up listening to the Albuquerque Christian radio station M-88, with pastor Skip Heitzig, who today has taken command of a much larger church in California, having found Albuquerque too small for his ambitions.
At first, I would listen with rapt attention to these broadcasts, wondering if my own church could give such a broadcast to assert a more balanced Christian viewpoint. And yet, as I went on, I began to realize that M-88 and Christian broadcasters, local Christians, and pastors like Heitzig would not respect a church such as my own. My first clue was seeing the sheer number of churches where a female pastor — let alone a lesbian — would be considered heresy. Seeing an aunt's church — where it was quite clearly noted that women were not allowed to be pastors — solidified this in my mind. And, as I listened, I began to notice something unsettling about the prevailing Christian conversation. "Women, you must remember that your man is your authority", Heitzig would say. Broadcasts would admonish children that condoms would do nothing to prevent diseases like AIDS. Is that true? I thought. Does it mean that kids just shouldn't even bother putting on a condom if they have sex? Is that reasonable? Is it intelligent?
One day, I noticed a church sign I passed by daily on the way home from school read, "FIGHT GAY MARRIAGE, PROTECT OUR FAMILIES." Sure, in addition to not wearing a condom, putting the woman BACK IN HER PLACE and apparently voting for NOM and Republicans. I started to tune out church.
As Christianity has become more political, it has revealed weaknesses. It is unbending, unchanging in the face of a changing world. In what ways it can change, it is thwarted by fundamentalism - the belief that, with evidence to the contrary, one must fight every battle for their religion, even as they begin to see quite clearly that they have already lost the fight. There is no sense in fighting gay marriage in a courthouse, nor any sense in fighting evolution or feminism or abortion laws in a nation which lists separation of church and state as one of its defining principles. As a moral compass the Bible can function properly; yet as science or law, it fails miserably.
I have not visited my church in years. I wouldn't know what to think of it. I have seen Christianity in America devolve so far that today I cannot separate in my mind the image of Christ with the image of Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps, so deeply have these things permeated the American consciousness. What I can say, without a doubt, is that in attacking moderate Christians, liberals and atheists, After Eden is setting up a niche audience for itself and what it preaches. It is telling those moderate and liberal Christians that they can either accept fundamentalism or join the ranks of the "other" — the "dirty" liberals, the college professors, the scientists, and the atheists. It believes that through doing so it will solidify liberal Christians against the changing tides of society. And it may sway some. But, for the vast majority, it yells out, "You're either with us or against us!" To which more and more are packing their things, giving up their Bibles and walking away from what is becoming a dwindling, but admittedly more obsessively committed, flock.
Or, to put it more succinctly: Congratulations Dan Lietha, for helping to destroy Christianity.
- The Whateley Universe is chock full of these, since the stories revolve around ideas like tolerance for people who are different. They're mutants. But most of the protagonists are also Transgender or otherwise LGBTQI, so there's less of a Space Whale Aesop than usual. Several of the main characters, like Phase and Diamondback, have been treated horrifically by their own families since they 'came out' - as mutants.
- Atop the Fourth Wall
Linkara: "When Wizard Magazine puts out a drawing guide that says "women should look sultry; men should look heroic and strong," there's something wrong here. When Frank Miller puts in his script that the only reason Vicki Vale is in her underwear is because he wants to get the guys reading the comic turned on, then maybe there's a problem. Or maybe when Stephanie Brown a few years ago was tortured with a power drill and the artist showed off her ass, then it's just freaking sick. Which is why, today, we're digging into "Athena #1," a comic released last year (2009) that seems to think T&A are more important than good storytelling. That's why I'm criticizing it, people! It's still going on!"
- In the review of Athena #1, Linkara states that a guy can dislike the exploitation of women in comic books (and any other form of media) and not be gay (while still being respectful of LGBT people), hate women's bodies, a prude, or an overzealous moral guardian. Moreover, the rant itself is a very well articulated speech decrying how female characters are being pointlessly objectified.
Linkara: "I AM CONFUSED ABOUT MY GENDER IDENTITY, SO I SHOULD PROBABLY GO TO A LOCAL LIBRARY TO LOOK UP SOME MORE INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT TRANSGENDER RIGHTS AREN'T GIVEN AS MUCH ATTENTION IN THE MEDIA AS OTHER RIGHTS!"
- At the end of his review of Pokemon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu, he delivers a triumphant speech to the Entity, who wishes to absorb all of existence into itself. Linkara points out that by destroying everything, the Entity will be left with nothing ("No Heaven to aspire to, no Hell to avoid.") and thus render itself completely meaningless and utterly bored. In other words: endless destruction and subjugation is a flawed and overrated goal, especially if you don't know what you'll do after that.
- Although it's meant for laughs, being one of the many parodies of Linkara's famous Catch-Phrase, the following line from his review Uncanncy X-Men #423 still makes a good point:
- In his review of Cry For Justice, Linkara explains that even though he finds the Infant Immortality trope to be "ludicrous," that still doesn't mean that a child character's death should just be a pointless "shock value moment" used for the sake of giving the villain a Moral Event Horizon to cross over.
- Ma-Ti in Kickassia:
Ma-Ti: Stop being a douchebag, it will totally backfire!
- The Nostalgia Chick's video on The Smurfette Principle. While suffering from the same flaws as the Critic's Nick Month did (as in, she probably didn't have time to look over the newer stuff properly), it was intelligent along with being funny and she never came off as a Straw Feminist.
Lindsay Ellis: A thought among many regarding abortion is "Out of sight, out of mind." It's not a proper thing you talk about in civilized society - but how do you get past the experience if you're afraid to talk about it?
- Ditto for her brief commenting on whether a character is feminist or not. She makes several good points as to why you could or couldn't consider some characters feminist, and then says that the bottom line is how you look at it.
- In the same vein is The A-Word, or "No Womb at the Inn", a short documentary she did regarding the abortion debate following her own abortion. She never takes a side, and the documentary as a whole can be summed up by what she says at the end.
- CR's character look at Anne Gwish and how subcultures like goth aren't bad, it's just conceited jerks like her who ruin it for everyone else.
- In his Green M&M vid, its ok to be attracted to fictional characters. They make them that way for a reason.
- For his "Top 11 Fluffy and Uranus Eviscirations", you can't pussify society. It's alright to hear "Respect others" and "Take care of yourselves and the environment" but its wrong to hear it 24/7. How someone crass can raise above a baser instinct and want to change something or say something straight from the heart, that is far greater than something sugar-coated. When they say something, it may be snarly and innappropriate, but it can be honest. When they sweeten it, its dishonest and insulting.
- In I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC's first After Hours series drops the anvil that powerful heroes like Superman aren't outdated, because they still need to be there for others to aspire to be.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the primary Aesops were "Don't fight the battles that you can win, fight the battles that deserve to be fought", and "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Do not allow evil to triumph. Do not do sit by and do nothing." Which are sentiments that need to be said quite a bit more than they are usually said.
- Bad Movie Beatdown
- Film Brain points out in his Bride Wars review that far from being fat, Kate Hudson's character would look healthy if she gained five pounds.
- In the review and commentary for Seven Pounds, Film Brain does not mince words his disgust and rage about how horrible it is that suicide is glorified as the ultimate sacrifice, when the main character had a fantastic education and could have done so much more to help others if he didn't martyr himself.
- In his review of The Condemned, he eviscerates the movie for its hypocritical moralizing about media violence. He drops the anvils that "media violence is not the same as real violence", and "if children are exposed to stuff that's not suitable for them, it's usually the fault of their parents/guardians".
- He drops another one in the Project X review in clear defiance of the film's own Family-Unfriendly Aesop; nobody should ever care too much about being popular in high school because it only lasts four years and once it's over it means diddly squat, and that the stunts the protagonists pulled will probably doom them to a life of dead-end minimum wage jobs at best.
- The Nostalgia Critic
- If an innocent child is getting mistreated in a movie, he will more often than not stop the review for a long rant about it. Nice enough, but then you remember that the character is supposed to have been badly abused as a kid. It's almost poignant in a sense.
- In his The Legend of the Titanic review, he makes it clear, several times, that what the film did (outright deny the deaths of hundreds of people in favor of a "SAVE THE WHALES" aesop) is completely disrespectful to those who died on the Titanic.
- He says over and over again that just because something is a kid's movie, doesn't mean it has to be worthless or have no effort put into it. Depending on how much he suffers in an episode, this can vary in desperation.
- Relating to that, non-stop loud music, sound or talking is annoying and takes away from building kid's appreciation for building up atmosphere.
- The Moulin Rouge! review has "Even if I don't like the film, maybe you do, and neither of us are definitely wrong" as well as "Guilty Pleasures are nothing to be ashamed of."
- The Critic's favorite episode of The Simpsons is "Bart Gets an F", which involves Bart needing to pass a test to avoid having to repeat the fourth grade. Bart buckles down, studies harder... and still fails. The Critic praises the episode for teaching a Family-Unfriendly Aesop that many shows are afraid to touch: that you can try your hardest and still fail.
- In his review of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Critic is puzzled by the positive comments from people who loved the film despite all the stuff he said about it and the narrator explains that the Critic shouldn't force his opinions on others and that "everyone is different like every flake of snow".
- Which is quickly dismissed as idiocy by the Critic.
- His review of The Cat in the Hat has the message that market research is not the be-all and end-all of entertainment. The masses don't always know what they want and if studios keep pandering to their comfort zones, then they never will.
- Similarly to that, his review of The Lorax included the message that "fad is only one letter away from fade", showing that just doing what's popular for the moment will result in a lackluster product that is quickly forgotten.
- His overall premise is reminding viewers how every decade has their share of lackluster works.
- His video "Top 11 GOOD Things in the Star Wars Prequels" states that even if people think a work is bad, it still deserves credit when it does something right.
- His review of Alice in Wonderland (2010) has the message that even good directors and writers will create bad stuff sometimes, and that part of being a creator is taking risks, even if they don't always pay off. Those creators shouldn't be glorified as someone who can do no wrong, nor should they be reduced to the punchline of a joke because of one flop in a career full of successes.
- His review of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" had a speech from the critic where he says that it's easy to hate someone but while it can be hard to be nice to someone, especially if they don't deserve respect. It's a better alternative than repeatedly calling them out on their actions until they see the errors of their ways. Being violent, hateful and an overall jerk should always be a final option because those emotions cloud your judgements and allow people to manipulate you. If you're not willing to change for someone then how will you expect someone to change for you, you need to be patient in order to see similarities rather than fear differences. While it will be long, hard and thankless, it is the most rewarding option.
- Todd in the Shadows has a few of these.
- In the review of ''Fifteen'': A woman has more worth than her body!
- In the "review" of Chris Brown's Turn Up the Music, Todd explains that while one can still like the work a celebrity puts out, they should still hold the person accountable for their mistakes. Todd also takes a lot of issue with Team Breezy's constant excusing of Brown for not only beating his girlfriend up and his constant refusal to really own up to his mistake, but for also making Rihanna seem like the bad guy of the whole incident.
- Arby 'n' the Chief is a delicious and very relevant anvil on Fan Dumb and Hate Dumb, even if delivered with crude humor, which is directed against the Halo fanbase but can be applied to everything. The episodes "Glitch" and "Panic" are a good point, because The Arbiter delivers a well-placed "Reason You Suck" Speech against an user named assassininja4827, who is 39 years old and freaking out because of the title glitch in the game. The moral is that there's nothing wrong with being an adult and playing computer game, but you also must act like one!
- Cracked gives us a good few:
10. Ladies, learn how to spot a pickup artist before they can succeed.9. Porn is a terrible way to learn about sex.8. The only practical/safe self-defense is learning how to run away if someone threatens you.7. There are certain things a person living on their own needs to know how to do.6. The oft-forgotten key to success is randomly meeting the right people and not pissing them off.5. Those "all-natural" cures in the grocery aisle are BS.4. Losing weight takes work. A LOT of work. Seriously.3. Learn how to cook — it's important.2. Talk radio is a terrible source of news information.1. Life is hard and you will die one day
- From David Wong:
- 5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't): The pursuit of things like fame and wealth aren't helpful. Friendship, love, and altruism are where it's at.
- The God Fuse: Just because you're in the right (or you think you're in the right) about something, doesn't mean you need to be a dick about it.
- What Is The Monkeysphere? basically sums it up by talking about Osama bin Laden: "Now, the truth is that bin Laden is as deserving of a bullet in the head as the four-color image on some redneck's T-shirt. But what you've got to realize is this: we're the caricature on his T-shirt."
- 6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying explains why people are so angry at the rich, it's not because the poor are envious, its because the rich are hypocrites and distant from the masses.
- 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person shows that what the world really cares about are results. At the same time, it also tells the reader to stop making excuses for why their life sucks, and go DO something.
- How The Karate Kid Ruined the Modern World: Success doesn't happen at the rate that movies lead people to believe. The game is a lot bigger than you think you know, and if you think you know, then I don't think you know.
- 6 Ways to Keep Terrorists From Ruining the World: Written in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France in January 2015, it examines the most typical (and more importantly, harmful) reactions to terrorist attacks.
- 5 Helpful Answers to Society's Most Uncomfortable Questions: Even though the white men of today are not at fault for the racism and sexism of the past, all that sexism and racism still has an effect on all of us today that is far bigger than we think (especially since society had to be forced into accepting women and people of color), and its our responsibility to make things better.
- How Half of America Lost its Shit says that the reason so many are buying into Donald Trump's hollow promises of "make America great again" is that for most of Flyover Country, America really isn't great for them; small towns can't recover from poverty as easily as cities can, the gap between rural and urban life is far bigger that most people realize, and their legitimate problems and good values are ignored by the liberal media in favor of writing them off as good-for-nothing rednecks. It also points out that Trump and his supporters, despite giving others every reason to brush them off as ignorant and destructive, are Not So Different from the people the other side celebrates elsewhere.
- The 10 Most Important Things They Didn't Teach You in School drops no less than ten anvils:
- John Cheese in general writes a lot about being a recovering alcoholic and how much of a struggle it's been. He repeatedly — and to great effect — points out that it's not alcohol that makes you an alcoholic, it's that addiction in your brain, and he also points out that you're never truly "cured" from it. A powerful message. But not the only one from him:
- 5 Reasons Life Really Does Get Better: The world isn't as bad as you think. When you get older, you actually have the power to do something about it.
- 5 Common Anti-Internet Arguements that are statistically bullshit: In the face of internet censorship, it's good to remember these points.
- Christina H's "8 Tiny Things That Stopped Suicides": Yes, depressed people often build up a wall around them. Yes, breaking down that wall can be extremely difficult. But sometimes, all it takes to get started is a small crack in the wall, courtesy of a friendly phone call, a hug, or something else.
- Gladstone's article, NDAA: The Biggest Election Issue No One's Talking About, explains one of the most important but least discussed issues: the President having the ability to indefinitely detain Americans without a trial.
- Another one of Gladstone's articles, 4 Things Both Atheists and Believers Need to Stop Saying, points out several arguments that only make religious people and atheists seem bad. It also manages to do so without offending either the religious or the atheistic.
- From David Wong:
- The Angry Video Game Nerd goes to show that, despite our nostalgic memories of the old 8-bit era, most games were nothing like Mario, Zelda, Mega Man, or Contra. A lot of them flat-out sucked, even for their time.
- Krissy Vaine's Vainety Fair entry "Who Believes In You" gives us a moral that mediocrity is absolutely not okay and how important it is to have good self esteem in life. Seems like Captain Obvious but Krissy reminds us all of incidents where we're taught that mediocrity is alright
If we hear good news we fear bad news is right around the corner, we're afraid to accept a gift for fear we don't deserve it.
- As well as that, everyone needs someone to believe in them. Krissy says when people compliment children, their not feeding their ego. Their preparing them for success.
- The Onion:
- God Angrily Clarifies "Don't Kill" Rule. Not only what's on the tin, but a respectful and well-needed reminder not to judge groups by their Vocal Minority. Especially poignant when that minority had just perpetrated the September 11th attacks.
- "‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens". To hit their point harder while still being satirical, the Onion released this article four times, each time only changing the names, dates and locations.
- A recurring theme from Red vs. Blue is that revenge will not make things better. It's best shown with three characters.
- Washington wants revenge on Project Freelancer for causing an AI to kill itself inside its head, and also for its amoral experiments. He successfully manages to EMP their command centre, but for this he inadvertently lets the Director get away and ends up in prison. When he is released as part of the Big Bad Duumvirate for Season 8, he ends up being betrayed by his partner and almost killed again.
- This happens in Season 8 (again) with Tex, who ends up caught in a capture unit and then wiped from existence by Church. Things would likely have turned out differently had she not tried going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- There's another great example in Season 10 with Church and Carolina, who almost end up dead and eventually declare it isn't worth it after seeing a broken down Director.
- Demo Reel's Horrible Hollywood Story Arc wasn't subtle, but heavily based off Reality Subtext. Elissa Hoffman, Donnie's mom who killed herself because the roles dried up, is based on Elizabeth Hartman, who really did commit suicide because she was an aging actress. Donnie's backstory, his being a child actor who learned about this while he was filming a movie and got abuse for his bad performance, is a far more depressing version of what happened to Mara Wilson, as she found about her mother's death while filming Matilda and also gets abuse for her bad performances. Rebecca's sexism-in-the-industry speech could be a case of the trope all on its own, but Rachel improvised half of it based on her own real-life experiences, and last but not least, Doug has very pointedly made clear that he once wanted to make movies over there, but later figured out he wouldn't have survived.
- The work by Sea Shepherd and Ross McCall drops the anvil hard on the grindadrap - a tradition in the Faroe Islands of slaughtering whales. The documentary points out that the community is otherwise very progressive and modernised, so the killing is not a necessity for food but rather a tradition. The locals celebrate it and children are raised to think of it as a male acceptance ritual. One of the more chilling parts of the documentary sees a young child excitedly dancing on the corpse of one whale, while an old woman licks the blood of another off her fingers.
- The Uncanny Valley's last short, Dark Side Of The Internet could be best summarized with a very obvious aesop against cyber-bullying, yet considering the astonishing number of negative responses from people who either never realize it or outright don't care, you can clearly see why it was made in the first place.
- Don't Talk To Police: It's right there in the title. Be aware of your constitutional rights and don't let a police officer talk you out of withholding them, because it can get you in a lot of trouble.
- The Most Important Video You Will Ever See, a.k.a Arithmetic, Population, and Energy, using statistics drops several important aesops: natural resources can be consumed rapidly over a long period of time, population growth must be controlled to obtain true sustainability, and statistics can be manipulated by people with special interests into making you look a certain way.
- Zoey Proasheck, for her usually family-friendly content, has a fair number of anvils to drop. Mental health can affect you even from a young age, thus it is important to talk about it and not sweep it under the rug. It is okay if you are LGBTQ. Most importantly, you are awesome and matter to the world.
- The aesop in "The Death of Robin Williams." by Matthew Santoro is that suicide is never a good solution to depression, which Matthew explicitly states. If Matthew had implied rather than clearly stated this lesson, then some of his viewers wouldn't realize the moral.
- The (only available online) Women on Fire novels had a lot of problems with Author Tract and general Anviliciousness, especially in the later books, but there is one anvil in Taken Child that can't possibly be dropped hard enough: Sexual orientation is not something that can be changed, and attempts by parents to "fix" a gay child can and will tear the family apart.
- Brows Held High
Depression is a disease; make no mistake. Von Trier can romanticize it all he wants, but depression is a stasis. It's a dead end. Succumbing to it is a surrender to death. And you can go on and on about how hollow our culture is and how "shallow" life is but...what of it? I'm alive. And I can experience the new, and share it. Here, now, I'm alive. And what happier thing can be said? We should all keep creating and sharing, because, in the words of a better filmmaker: "Our songs will all be silenced. But what of it? Go on singing."
- Kyle's scathing review of Melancholia is basically one long argument against romanticizing clinical depression and treating despair as "poignant". As Kyle eloquently points out: all of life is built upon change and moving forward, and depression is a disease that makes that impossible to do; works of art shouldn't be celebrated for making depression look beautiful, because that ignores the simple fact that depression can and must be overcome. In short, True Art is Not, in fact, "Angsty".
- His review of the Malian fantasy film Yeelen includes an impeccably researched—but utterly unsubtle—exploration of the concept of hardline Nationalism, pointing out why it's futile and self-defeating. Every nation on Earth is a vast, complex patchwork of cultures with their own identities and beliefs, and more than a few of those cultures are heavily marginalized; it's impossible to define an entire country's identity without leaving some of them out, even if they're an indispensable part of their country's cultural landscape.
- For the show in general, there's the recurring message that even the world's greatest works of art are made by human beings—flawed, fallible human beings with more than their share of cultural biases—not flawless, all-knowing demigods who can't be criticized or questioned. But there's nothing wrong with that...because artists' humanity is what makes them great.
- The Mysterious Mr. Enter's follow-up thoughts on "Screams in Silence" bring to light how objectification, sensationalism, "sympathy porn", and relying on statistics don't help anyone in any situation, especially not in the realm of domestic abuse. That many charities are actually very corrupt and their attempts to "help" people actually do far more damage than anything else, while other serious issues are virtually ignored because they don't fit with the stereotypical ideas these charities have ingrained into popular consciousness.
Beast Boy: We can't hold on to our childhood forever.Mr. Enter: Yes, you can. Yes you fucking can! Shows like Courage and Samurai Jack are made with such care and diligence that when people grow up with them, they look back on it and they get inspired, maybe to tell their own stories, maybe become animators, or maybe to just keep moving forward. When the kids today look back at Teen Titans Go!, what will they think? I mean, people who regret 80's fashions don't really blame the fashions, and the irony is, that when people don't pull in to their childhood, instead of creating things like Gravity Falls or Steven Universe, they create things like Teen Titans Go!. I still hold onto my childhood and that makes me want to make cartoons, inspired by the ones as a child, the ones that still hold up because, as an adult, I can determine what works and what doesn't, and so many of them work. And that's just not a thing in animation; think of all the spiritual successors in video games going around on the indie scene, because people hold fondly of the games they played as children. If they didn't hold onto them, then these people wouldn't bother.Mr. Enter: Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention another fallacy they brought up. Just because people want more cartoons that can appeal to adults doesn't mean anyone is taking anything from kids! I mean, kids can still watch Friendship is Magic, Star vs. the Forces of Evil and Gravity Falls, et cetera. But that's what this episode is: one giant fallacy. Teen Titans Go!, I don't care that you make a kid's show. I care that you're bad at it, even under the apparent low, low standards of a kids show! Yep, kids will watch anything. They'll also eat anything. Should we let them eat lead paint chips? Sure, teaching kids that girls are inherently better than boys or that no one likes smart people or that you should avoid responsibility isn't going to make the lives of kids any worse. And I guess you want your kids constantly nagging for Teen Titans Go! toys. Kids might not have standards, which is why we need a little bit of extra care. We do this in all other areas of childrens' lives. What makes entertainment the exception!?
- His review of The Return of Slade hammers in that kid shows that are loved by adults are not loved because they're dark, brooding, or inappropriate, but because they're so well-written and have so much effort and heart put into them that they're enjoyable by anyone's age group.
- InfamousAnimation's Shogun Gino spends the last 3 minutes of his review of Katy La Oruga to give an extremely passionate speech about how children's animation should be done with quality and effort:
"Some of you may be wondering why I would even bother soapboxing for so long about this dumb little cheap animated movie, and really, that’s the most common complaint that people like me get. “Why are you wasting your time critiquing something that’s meant for children? It’s for kids, not for you! Why are you getting so worked up over it? Don’t you have something better to do with your life?”Understand this and understand this well – just because something is for children does not give it the right, the privilege, nor the excuse to have NO EFFORT PUT INTO IT!!!A child audience should not be used to justify laziness and apathy in the production line!That’s what causes idiotic spin-offs and copy-cats with the same tired humor-by-committee every episode.That’s what causes half-hour toy commercials, especially those made for syndication with 5 new episodes every week, causing nothing but animation glitches, inconsistent writing, and hasty audio editing.Is it not a great feeling to revisit something from your childhood and discover that it has more qualities that you never noticed when you were younger?To find out that it not only could entertain the more basic tastes of a child, but also the more complex tastes of an adult?To realized that the people behind the scenes actually gave a damn about what they were making?Yes, a lot of what I cover on this show is meant for young audiences, and that’s an unfortunate result of the general opinion that animation is something meant for kids, but that’s a topic for a different episode. But I care because I love animation as an art form.I care because I love good storytelling.I care because I remember the movies and shows and people that didn’t look down on me simply because I was a child.I care about children’s animation because I remember the children’s animation that cared about me.This movie didn’t care about its audience … and that’s why nobody cares about this movie anymore."
- The web series Ask A Slave, in which writer/actress Azie Dungey responds in character as 18th century slave Lizzie Mae to questions about her life, can come across as rather heavy-handed, in that a lot of the questions Lizzie Mae gets asked betray stunning ignorance of history, or terrible insensitivity to the reality of slavery, and a lot of the time, Lizzie Mae can only respond with mild sarcasm or a disapproving eyebrow raise. However, most of the questions (and nearly all the really stupid ones) were asked in real life: Dungey used to work as a slave re-enactor at the Mount Vernon Museum, and she turned her frustration with being asked so many dumb questions into a web series. The fact that people in the 21st century could ask, in all seriousness, "How did you get to be housemaid for such a distinguished Founding Father? Did you read the advertisement in the newspaper?" is...depressing.
- CollegeHumor: The video "Stop Saying 'It Ruined My Childhood.'" features whiny fans ranting about their favorite movies and shows being rebooted or just different, claiming it ruined their childhood. Meanwhile in the same restaurant there are people whose childhoods and/or youth actually were ruined: a man who lost his dreams of being a baseball player after being stricken with polio, a woman who was denied a good education because she's black, a young man who commented that his cop father abused him, a regretful Vietnam Vet, a woman who was a sex slave during her teen years, a woman who lost her parents in the Holocaust, a woman whose sister was raped, and finally a teenage boy working as a waiter whose parents are being deported from the country. This video really skewers First World Problems.
- Don't Follow Your Passion: it's unrealistic to think you can make a living doing exactly what you love; it's much wiser to follow opportunity - but don't forget to bring your passion with you.
- On Criticism In The Intersectional Age: While a pretty lengthy read, it drops several much-needed anvils about how criticism in the modern age should be addressed and used to improve oneself, rather than just becoming defensive and attacking your critics.
- In his two-part review of The Simpsons episode "Homer Badman", TheMysteriousMrEnter presents some important anvils about rape and sexual assault.
- Rape and sexual assault are wrong, regardless of who does it.
- Both the accuser and the accused deserve fair treatment from the law, even if they're a Jerkass.
- Just because somebody's a Jerkass doesn't mean that they will cross the Moral Event Horizon.
- The media needs to watch its distance during allegations or it will take advantage of the situation and actively harm both parties.
- Just because the accused is found "Not guilty" doesn't necessarily mean that the justice system is flawed, thus deserving to get scrapped. Due process is exactly that, a process.
- People who deliberately lie about rape or sexual assault are no less harmful than real perpetrators, because they make real victims more worried about coming forward for help since they're already concerned that nobody would believe them. He points out how even though the 2014 University of Virginia rape story from Rolling Stone Magazine was revealed to be a hoax, people were still supporting the person who lied about the whole thing, comparing it with a Phony Veteran still being honored as a war hero even though they're proven not to be one.
- An unspoken Aesop is displayed during the Tobuscus scandal and the Pewdiepie anti-antisemitism scandal. The Aesop highlights the dangers of mob mentality and how it can be easily manipulated on the internet. These Aesops speaks volumes about the dangers of mob mentality, altruism and sensitivity.
- To better explain over-sensitivity, reoccurring jokes on the internet are out of context scenes involving racism, sexuality, gender equality, mental disabilities, etc. Some people would say that the offended people are being intolerant rather than feeling insulted by the joke or are confused by it or they refuse to comply due to its ridiculousness. On the other hand some people do want to raise awareness of issues and promote equality or give justice but mob mentality may involve peer pressure, manipulation or they feel offended for someone else.
- The Beanie Baby "Lucky" the ladybug has a short poem about not spending your money to play the lottery, something kids need to learn before they become old enough to play.
- The "It Gets Better" series of YouTube videos intended to prevent gay teen suicide. Fittingly, it's a multi-purpose Anvil, suited to far more than just its intended purpose; you don't have to be gay, or even a teenager, to take powerful solace from the thousands of earnest people who want to reassure you that It Gets Better.
- Iris Chang's book The Rape of Nanking, exposing horrific atrocities committed by the Japanese Army in WWII. It's possible it did not happen the way it was described, and her description may or may not have been biased, but it did happen, and her book has opened the floodgate.
- Some person was kind enough to post a great Patrick Stewart Speech in the Real Life section here.
- Anything dealing with proper Gun Safety.
- The growing campaign against drinking and driving can be rather over-the-top (especially the commercials), but if it gets more drunk people to stay off the road, more power to them.
- The "Give A Damn" campaign, similar to the "It Gets Better" series mentioned above.
- Cleopatra's Nose. An anvil that can't be dropped hard enough: You don't need to look like everyone else to be beautiful. You have to look like you to be beautiful.
- Sex Education.
- And its inverse anvil: it is the PARENTS' job to teach their children, not abandoning the responsibility to television, schools, various other people, and painful life experience to do it. And not just giving "the talk," but several "talks" over time, being a source of wisdom and advice for the growing young person along the way, even into adulthood and marriage advice when needed.
- The Sword of Damocles. It's about as subtle as a freight train, but it's an excellent demonstration of the perils of absolute power.
- Half the Sky is very blunt on its possibly biased worldview that atrocities against women continue today (ex. sexual slavery, human trafficking, and female illiteracy), especially in third-world countries. And it also states that the weak economic power that these countries have because of their oppressive misogyny.
- The First International Conference on Men's Issues provides tons of these as the speakers criticize various wrongdoings in society: glorifying women, disregarding fathers and sacrificing men for women's benefit.
- Britain ran a series of anti-speeding adverts involving a film of a car travelling down a busy street at a mere five miles over the standard speed limit for a public area, before coming to an emergency stop. The advert shows where the car would have stopped had it been travelling at thirty. Since the car was actually travelling at thirty five, it goes on for another five or six feet: and smashes right into a child crossing the road.
- The entirety of the British Home Office's "Sex and Consent" campaign, featuring prominent personalities such as Charlie McDonnell. While it may come across as something obvious, the massive sexual abuse scandal that broke out on YouTube around the same time only made the message stronger.
Lt. Gen. Morrison: "On all operations, female officers and soldiers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future. If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behavior is acceptable, but I doubt it. The same goes for those who think that toughness is built on humiliating others."
- The videos, by some of the victims of the aforementioned scandal, also hammer home the point repeatedly and effectively. One such example can be found here. Needless to say, the subject is NSFW.
- This song argues powerfully that those who have abused community members do not deserve to return to their platform. It's not subtle in the least, but hammers the message in with the repetition of "you're not coming back", listing several things that the abusers have ruined; this makes the lyrics even more powerful.
- Similarly, Australia's Lt. Gen. David Morrison gave an epic smackdown to soldiers bullying and sexually harassing/abusing female comrades.
- In light of a series of videos that YouTuber Sam Pepper put out, showing him sexually assaulting / harassing women (specifically by squeezing their backsides) under the guise of a "prank" and then showing men being the victim of the exact same thing, a series of videos, such as this one, showed that sexual harassment is not cool, regardless of gender.
- "No More she was asking for it."
- This PSA from Verizon that shows how people tend to push girls away from science and mathematics. It's an anvil that especially needs to be dropped because, as the commercial shows, most people are unaware that they're doing it.
- In Confessions of a Republican, a 1964 election campaign ad, a jittery Republican voter, played by actor William Bogert expresses his doubts about Barry Goldwater. It drops several about why voting for a guy just because he was a member of your party is bad if the guy acts irresponsible. While there was a clear bias in the message, the actor, William Bogert, was a real Republican expressing his fears about Goldwater.
William Bogert: If you vote for a man you don't believe, it's a lie.
- Friendship and love. As Narmy as they're often portrayed in fiction, they're some of the most powerful and important emotions in our lives. Even something as simple as giving someone a compliment can make their entire day better. There have been many cases where people on the verge of suicide have changed their minds because of a random act of kindness from a friend, relative, or even a complete stranger.
- Suppressing unwanted emotions doesn't make them go away. In fact, it makes you feel them more intensely than before, which can create a destructive cycle. It's okay to feel angry, sad, jealous, bitter, fearful, anxious, ashamed, whatever emotion it might be. Just experiencing these feelings themselves doesn't mean you're a bad person. It just means that you're human. Allow yourself the chance to feel them because you need them to maintain your mental health. How you interpret and respond to your emotions is the true sign of what kind of person you are: knowing what misery is like can make happiness all the more meaningful and help cultivate a healthy sense of empathy. Knowing that you're jealous of someone else's success can become either a breeding ground for anger and resentment or a motivator for you to succeed yourself.
- The 2010s anti cigarette ads that show people suffering from all kinds of diseases and health conditions because of their addiction. These commercials are often filled with Body Horror to get the message across.