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"God of War" describes the disease and destruction of toxic masculinity

This first half of this post contains no spoilers for God of War, the second half and is coined by another spoiler alert.

I jokingly refer to the New God of War as Angry Dad Simulator, or rather to many of us, more like My Own Personal Broken Childhood Simulator.

That's because jokes are easier than admitting how close home it feels to watching a child mercilessly ridiculed and mocked by his father for being a human being. We could chuckle at Kratos' inability to even reach out to comfort his mourning son after his mother's death – but I've seen it happen in real life with my own eyes.

And really, too many people have repeated Kratos' uncanny familiarity as a prototypical father so as not to take this reaction seriously.

"My father grew up in the era of the strong silent figure," Cory Barlog, the returning director of God of War told Mashable. "They did not share emotions, and I raise my son to express emotions, but it's still hard."

Seen by Kratos: "It's hard to try to make a difference." Big or small. It will always be a long way to go, even with small victories. And that's alright. "

The same day we talked to each other, Barlog posted a video of himself reacting to the first reviews of the game (spoil alert: it's almost unanimously praised) He cried in. The video received more than a million views in less than a week.

"I've been thinking a lot about uploading something or not, but then I thought of what my son Helo was doing Barlog wrote in the description, "He does not want us to be around when he is sad, when we run into another room and yell at each other when we try to enter. It was important for us to let him know that it's okay to be sad. It's OK to cry. There is nothing to hide.

The new God of War feels in many ways like the story that so many in the gaming community did not know they needed. [1965] The God of War War from 2018 invites us to see what happens to a child raised by the same male ideal.

While the original God of War trilogy invited us Identifying with the embodiment of a male power fantasy, the God of War of 2018 asks what happens to a child raised by the same male ideal.

It's not pretty.

You could be in the new Playing God of War as Kratos, but it's not hard to identify with the more identifiable co-protagonist, but Atreus demands your empathy, a constant reminder of what it means to be small, powerless and so urgent Requires the consent of the man who can only be contemptuous.

Yet saves God of War sympathy for this seemingly impenetrable father – a man who himself was once a child. A man who knows nothing but the ongoing cycle of patrician betrayal and trauma.

"Kratos never had any good family role models, there's nothing in his past to turn his back on his Spartan brothers," said Barlog. "He's on his own journey to discover it, and everyone else in the Nordic mythology pantheon teaches him about good and bad legends about how the family behaves."

[There are spoilers for the end of the game beyond this point]

On their pilgrimage to disperse the ashes of the matriarch, who bridged this deep gap between father and son, Kratos and Atreus meet another matriarch. She is the distorted mirror of her relationship.

In Norse mythology, the goddess Freya has asked in all areas – from man to the trees – never to harm her son Baldur. She managed to make him invincible, but in the God of War iteration also deprives him of all sentiments in this process. Freya creates a monster from this likable mistake: a man who can only express pain through revenge. Her desire to protect him from the world gives Balder a murderous hatred of the woman who loves him more than anything else.

But "She did it out of fear – out of love and fear," said Barlog. "She knew that her son was the only thing she created, magic is fleeting, nothing remains, but her child is the only thing that can be carried on, Baldur's legacy, but not the arrogance of the legacy – just the pure meaning knowing that you will die and he will live on. "

  Father of the war, only much nuanced

father of war, only much nuanced

Barlog describes the story of Baldur as a cautionary tale and depicts both Atreus as also Kratos, that they have to decide if they are strong enough to make other decisions. "We will be the gods we want to be, not the ones who were," Kratos reassures his son after the boy realizes the mountainous heap of family history that her story is from.

Because that is what will become of us when we teach our sons invulnerability. This is how the unspoken words between parents and child fester. They eat you both alive, from within. At its core, God of War is about the painful indoctrination of boys, who are said to have to close their hearts to feel – for the better. It is a story of fathers who infect their sons by passing on the same disease of blind rage that robbed them of everything when they once were sons themselves.

But the cycle ends here. At least that's the hope.

Most importantly, God of War is an acknowledgment of the much larger belief system that upholds this cycle of men who believe they must be impenetrable to survive. The result is a line of masculinity that undermines all life and fails to see how the search for impenetrability only guarantees destruction.

The new war god brings both intentional and unintentional paths into the abstract concept of patriarchy into the personal. It shows how it is passed on with the best intentions, just like this paved road to Hel.

But one begins to understand why humans have ever come to the concept of the gods. We needed an explanation for the mistakes of our fathers. We needed an old man in the heavens to pray – the whole father, Odin – because the man sitting across the table felt more distant and unapproachable than a god.

We needed gods because patriarchs always seem to give so much while they give so little.

  The Lonely Path to the Destruction of Idealized Masculinity

The Lonely Path to the Destruction of Idealized Masculinity

Perhaps that's why we needed the original God of War trilogy in the first place. We had to believe in the myth of male strength before we could admit that we really needed its destruction.

I wish another mother figure would not have to be sacrificed at the altar of a story about fatherhood

There are a variety of valid complaints against the execution of said destruction by the game. As with so many other big game reports, God of War still questioned the tenants of violent masculinity – in strict compliance with the fun of violent masculinity. It opens the door to invite complex female characters to join in the conversation – before they immediately close that door for most of the game.

I wish another mother figure would not have to be sacrificed at the altar of a story of fatherhood in games. The last of us fell into the same trap and it was also a weaker game for it. Especially in this case it is a real shame. For if God of War is allowed to tell the story he wants to tell, he does so with the power to move mountains. The sheer success of a demograph that overlaps with the people who made GamerGate is genuinely encouraging.

However, the biggest consolation for my complaints with the game is the hope that this is not the end (and certainly is) its previous success will not be). In the end, it becomes clear that this is a story that does not feel complete before she leaves Kratos and the story follows his more promising son.

But the slow journey there is understandable. We have to take what victories we can have, big or small.

Published since God of War the vast majority has praised its change in the direction of the series – but some edge purists of the originals still found reason to protest.

"People started to ask, 'Has Kratos lost its advantage? It's not strong anymore.' And it always baffled me because I thought it was logical by nature," said Barlog. "Strength Coexists with Emotional Availability and Vulnerability Life is not Hemingway's novel We are better than humans – as a society, as a humanity – when we are open to the concept of everyone experiencing the range of human emotions."

Throughout history, we have been a society born of the unspoken grievances of negligent fatherhood.

Maybe – if we are strong enough – we will let this be the end of this cycle.

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