Fictional Media and Toxic Masculinity


Fictional media has been known to promote impossible standards of strength, to be a man. The hero and anti-hero –  the strong ones who make opposition wither.  When he stands for himself or he convinces other people to understand his methods out of results, fear and respect.

He doesn’t need to be saved and only has to listen occasionally. When he turns out this way, he takes in others. Trying to make them strong or be better than him.  This was everything that has been glorified, described as indomitable.

Now it has to face off with evolved storytelling. These kinds of characters, the heroes who pull stunts like this in reality are the villains bringing us all under their wing. The sidekicks or successors are victims of generational trauma.  Shows even now have characters calling out their mentors or parental figures as psychopaths for teaching them this.

More or less they’re all told to become their pain. Older examples just have the newer generation go their own path while the older one continues.

People realized what isn’t healthy to peddle to a male audience and worked to improve on it. What is being represented now it’s not a complete antidote for toxic masculinity but treatment for those ready to grow up. To realize what’s crazy if we embrace it and what’s rational to leave it behind. This entertainment has become educational. I brought in the more surprising examples from recent media I’ve enjoyed.

The Boys

A show that is hard to explain but full of commentary. It hands power and opportunity to those who don’t deserve it and shows their spiral. It shows the opposition getting their hands dirty to deal with people that the public thinks are saints when they’re the sickest people around.  Everyone is based on a classic archetype character or hero distorting or destroying it. For the latest season, it was a trio.  The maniacs are out of touch and are completely destroyed or desolate on the inside. They either get loose or nobody believes they exist.  In the agony of their own making, they chose to go further down. Instead of trying something else when people reach out or beg for them to stop. It’s all ego, and what happened to them instead of a greater evil or good. Imagine men just created from the illusions of what power is, the conditioning of abuse as love. All wearing the front of being the better standard of a man.Ragged men whose layers peeled away lime their sanity.

Anything sympathy you’d feel gets replaced by scorn in the next episode.

 The outsider to them is an example of someone surrounded by people who show off their cruelty, strength and emotional insensitivity.  He’s the only one to confess he doesn’t understand strength and takes a step back. He’s been addicted to that rush, the same satisfaction and throws it away. Not everyone has the same amount of power, everyone thinks they’re righteous and an excuse. One that they will reach out to other people to be their common cause.

God of War

A franchise known for gore, destruction and Spartans did not soften but expanded. Formerly a place of pure rage showing the unchecked wrath of toxic masculinity. Actual arguments and articles were written describing the protagonist as a walking mess of it. However, with his newest appearance, he walks with regret and wisdom. While he makes mistakes in his approach to a son he refuses to harm him. Enlightening his son that he doesn’t look down on him or want to put him through harm.  That he is enough and that he doesn’t need to be traumatically trained like him. What shaped him into a machine. He wanted him to remain with the normal emotional freedom a child could have. Trusting his wife to foster curiosity and playfulness. He trusted her while he left only to work on himself and be able to teach him when she passed. To bury the extreme behavior and respect her wishes.

These installments give sympathy to villains who grew up the opposite way. A pair of aggressive brothers whose parents disciplined a twisted idea of manhood in them. The same merciless sort of abuse their father grew up with and carried over. Ideas were beaten into them before they were thrown out into the world. Lashing out on orders and ending up in losing fights. With one brother dead the other returned home only to be beaten half to death by his father.  They were warped and trapped in a vicious cycle. Then provoking and causing his death.

After that, they were mentioned in passing, their father using them as an excuse for a fight. A repressed bloodthirsty victim of psychological abuse who did reflect on his sons. Generational trauma is as visible as a character’s scars. And he does try to shift his focus to the one he hasn’t hurt.

Some will say what they’re trying to do is soften the franchise, or be too smart for the audience.  I see it as not just character growth but helping the character of a lot of people. Making them stronger, wiser and there for each other. That I’m certain of.