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Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped

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"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 many Americans imagined that slavery was good for black people. Effective anti-slavery propaganda was badly needed. That anvilicious, sentimental piece of propaganda served a valuable public service in such a way that subtlety would only diminish its impact. The same can be said about Chaplin's The Great Dictator and its anvilicious "Hitler is bad" message.

A reminder that An Aesop is Not Bad. Sometimes you have to shock people into doing the right thing. 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.

Subtrope to Anvil of the Story. Compare Lost Aesop (when an anvil needed to be dropped, but it wasn't), Broken Aesop (when they just dropped the wrong one) and Captain Obvious Aesop (when they thought the anvil needed to be dropped but everyone believed it already).

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.



Alternative Title(s): Anvils That Needed To Be Dropped, Necessary Anvil, Film


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