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The Female Perspective: “Mad Max: Fury Road” – Does It Go Furiously Into Film History or Is It Feminist Propaganda?

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

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*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


VROOOM. VROOOM!
VROOOM. VROOOM!

I’m going to start this article off with the following warning, if you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road than you are 1) Missing out on a seriously fun film and 2) There may be spoilers ahead.

You have been warned!

That out-of-the-way I want to also say that I loved this movie. Seriously, I loved it. I would go see it again in the theater, which is not something I normally say (theater prices are HIGH) so that’s a high compliment coming from me. Let me begin to list the reasons WHY I enjoyed this movie.

  1. It stays true to the Mad Max mythos. This is mostly because George Miller was at the helm and if anyone is going to keep Max where he belongs, it’s going to be his creator. Besides that though, they managed to keep this new movie (that was what, 30 years after the last one?) in tone, look and feel without blinking an eye. Tom Hardy as Max couldn’t be better casting. He managed to imitate Gibson’s Max without it seeming like an imitation. It seemed flawless, like Hardy was meant to be Mad Max.
  2. Charlize Theron is awesome in everything she does.
  3. The cars. Oh my good lord, the CARS were amazing.

The beauty of Mad Max: Fury Road is that it tricks you. When you see the trailer you think it’s going to be a Mad Max movie with cars, sexy ladies and big chase sequences with little in the way of plot and heavy in action and destruction.

mad-max-fury-road-poster2

Well Fury Road delivers more than that, it has the sexy ladies but they aren’t just set dressing. They do stuff, even if it’s little things like load a gun or a cool stunt. They aren’t “things” as they say often in the film and damn if that isn’t true. This film is a nod to feminism in the most wonderful way, by not being overtly feminist. Well, it’s not overtly feminist to me, but to some menfolk, it seems to have struck a nerve.

In a post on the blog Return of Kings, Aaron Clarey is calling for men to boycott the new Mad Max movie:

Not only REFUSE to see the movie, but spread the word to as many men as possible. … Because if [men] sheepishly attend and Fury Road is a blockbuster, then you, me, and all the other men (and real women) in the world will never be able to see a real action movie ever again that doesn’t contain some damn political lecture or moray about feminism, SJW-ing, and socialism.

[…] men in America and around the world are going to be duped by explosions, fire tornadoes, and desert raiders into seeing what is guaranteed to be nothing more than feminist propaganda, while at the same time being insulted AND tricked into viewing a piece of American culture ruined and rewritten right in front of their very eyes.

This is fantastically laughable. This guy not only gives credence to the fact that men SHOULD go see the movie (I mean, seriously, FIRE TORNADOES people) but it also makes men sound like very simple, stupid creatures who are easily confused by movies featuring strong female characters and that there is no fate worse than becoming a male feminist and learning to (gasp) respect women.

The fact is, Fury Road does NOT contain any “political lectures” or “moray’s on feminism,” it’s simply a story about a group of women who are tired of being brutally used and ask the (ever-awesome) Charlize Theron, as Imperator Furiosa, to get them away from the evil leadership of Immortan Joe (played to diabolically disgusting perfection by Hugh Keays-Byrne). That’s it, that’s the plot folks. Simple and not nearly as feminist as Aaron Clarey would have you believe. 

Charlize, you are my favorite ever.
Charlize, you are my favorite ever.

Let’s all take a step back to realize that this movie isn’t about shoving feminism down the collective throats of the masses, it’s about telling a story. A crazy story about the end of civilization and of a world bathed in blood, fire and dust. I think that the reason these folks are so bent on calling Fury Road a feminist film is because women are at the forefront of the story, instead of Max or other male characters. I suppose, to some extent, that does make it a feminist film but for some reason that irritates the holy heck out of me. Why do we have to label everything? Why can’t this simply be an insane film about insane people doing insane things and leave it at that without making it something else?

Oh, that’s right, because we have to obsess and label everything. That’s right. I forgot for a second.

Then there’s this:

Anybody who has seen the original three Mad Max movies knows that women exist for one of four man-created reasons: to be raped so Mel Gibson can get mad, to be sexual partners with a guy trying to kill Mel Gibson, to be murdered so Mel Gibson can get mad, and to force Mel Gibson to fight in the Thunderdome.

I for one, am so HAPPY that Miller decided to add another category to this list. Now women in the Mad Max world can be tough, bad-ass broads who actually save the day. There is no better example of this than with Imperator Furiosa’s character.  Her sole purpose in this film is to help the wives of Joe and get them to “the green place.”

If there was a better choice out there for the role of Furiosa than Charlize Theron, than I don’t think any of us have heard of her. Theron embraces her roles like few actresses working today. The mess that was that Kristen Stewart Snow White story was only watchable because of Theron being the evil Queen. Theron doesn’t slack off in Fury Road, she powers through the role, giving her character softness, depth and power without us ever thinking that she is less powerful than her male counterparts. In fact, she is what keeps everyone moving, even in the face of unendurable loss.

Tom Hardy as Max is perfection.
Tom Hardy as Max is perfection.

Does this also make it feminist film? I suppose it does. You know what? I’m perfectly fine with that because it means an ACTION MOVIE just also became a FEMINIST movie. That’s pretty darn awesome if you ask me.

Let’s not forget about Tom Hardy as our beloved apocalyptic bad boy, Max. He is perfection. Yep, I said it, PERFECTION (and you can tell I’m excited because I keep using ALL CAPS). There were times where he sounded like Mel Gibson and there was even one time where he actually looked like him. It was perfect casting. Hardy barely spoke in the movie (I’m pretty sure his entire dialogue in the movie took up no more than one page) but when he did, he made it count and he was every inch the Mad Max we have all come to enjoy watching.

I want one of these vehicles. Imagine how quick I would get everywhere!
I want one of these vehicles. Imagine how quick I would get everywhere!

This movie was (and get ready for some cliche’s!) action-packed, super fun and totally bad-ass. The soundtrack kept you on the edge of your seat and the chase sequences were so engaging that I felt tense while I watched them (which is a great compliment). The few quiet moments were an opportunity for the audience to catch its breath and move the plot along a bit (and let me tell you, those were few and far between). Well done George Miller. WELL DONE.

Now go see it if you haven’t yet. Seriously. Go. Now.

Did you see Mad Max: Fury Road? What did YOU think of it? Feminist Tour-De-Force, Awesome Action Film or Something Else? Sound off in the comments!

One thought on “The Female Perspective: “Mad Max: Fury Road” – Does It Go Furiously Into Film History or Is It Feminist Propaganda?

  1. […] I’m actually wrong about that, the recent Mad Max: Fury Road film is a good example of how an action movie has become something more, something feminist. Maybe […]

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