Published On: Mon, Apr 25th, 2022

The Trope is the Point: How The Northman Uses Hamlet to Critique Traditional Masculinity

Warrior Prince Amleth, screams bare chested, holding a shield in battle

I have a bee in my bonnet. A festering little fury that has been pestering my thoughts. And like most of my unhealthiest choices these days, I caught it by spending too much time on Twitter. We are cursed these days with “Take” brain. Something happens in the world and everyone must have a “take.” When a popular film comes out everyone must participate in “The Discourse.” And that of course leads to each consecutive person, or critic, to try and make their “take” the hottest, usually by going against the dominant opinion. The easiest way to do this, of course, is by slamming that film (or series) by claiming it has committed the ultimate sin: it has used a “trope.”

But, *extremely Jerry Seinfeld voice* “whaaaats the deal with tropes?” Why do filmmakers and showrunners still use these lame old archetypes? Is it actually important to examine their usage instead of just pointing them out as some sort of faux-academic “gotcha?” This CinemaSins-ing of film criticism has become a curse and a bane on my personal existence. Stories (and films) are not mathematical equations meant to be solved. In the same way that “Save the Cat” has tried to reduce screenwriting to a formula, the practice of analyzing a film only according to its historical accuracy (or inaccuracy) and counting out the number of tropes it employs does not actually tell someone if the film is good or bad. 

The Mary Sue

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