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Sun May 24, 2015, 09:53 PM

“Mad Max” Is A Feminist Playbook For Surviving Dystopia

What might happen if women’s rights evaporate has been examined in nightmare detail. Mad Max: Fury Road offers a solution.

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If you’re going to bring feminist propaganda to the masses, there are worse ways than in a giant exploding truck covered with knives. In case you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet, it’s two hours of seat-clutching, wall-to-wall explosions, giant art trucks covered with guitars that are also flamethrowers, howling Technicolor vistas, and blood on the sand. When the credits rolled, I felt like my eyeballs had been to Burning Man without me. I was thoroughly entertained.

The fact that Fury Road is so much fun is almost certainly part of the reason the antifeminist keyboard-slobberers who inhabit the murkier corners of the internet are pushing for its boycott. Last week, the website Return of Kings led the charge for men and boys to refuse to see it. “This is the vehicle by which they are guaranteed to force a lecture on feminism down your throat,” wrote contributor Aaron Clarey. “This is the subterfuge they will use to blur the lines between masculinity and femininity.” He must be worried that his men’s rights comrades might, over the course of two hours of high-octane car-chases, momentarily forget to hate feminism. Fury Road — in which an ass-kicking half-bionic heroine defies death to rescue five young women from sex slavery — might be an existential threat to recreational sexism because it is so enjoyable.


Patriarchy, it turns out,
is prettiest when it’s on fire.


In the long history of dystopian science fiction, Fury Road’s premise of misogyny is not without precedent. Violence against women is part of almost every popular fantasy of social collapse, from 1984 to Game of Thrones, in which rape and the threat of rape is part of every woman’s storyline. But Fury Road reminds the viewer that the liberation of women is not just a prerequisite for social equality — it’s is also a damn good story. Patriarchy, it turns out, is prettiest when it’s on fire.

The film opens in a howling desert. It’s somewhere in the not too distant future and all the boys have gone horribly wrong. Everyone has PTSD because the world ended and they’re still alive, and the warlord Immortan Joe controls the water supply, and with it the people. His community, the Citadel, is the kind of misogynist nightmare one imagines gives the readers of Return of Kings a guilty thrill: The women are kept as brood stock and literally milked to feed the elite. But here, violent masculinity has become social disease. Almost everyone is sick, even the young warriors called war boys, whose greatest dream is to get hopped up on nitrous and die in battle.


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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply “Mad Max” Is A Feminist Playbook For Surviving Dystopia (Original post)
Agschmid May 2015 OP
DCBob May 2015 #1
mercuryblues May 2015 #2
Agschmid May 2015 #3
seabeyond May 2015 #7
jonno99 May 2015 #13
shenmue May 2015 #4
Agschmid May 2015 #5
seabeyond May 2015 #6
Agschmid May 2015 #8
seabeyond May 2015 #9
historylovr May 2015 #10
seabeyond May 2015 #11
historylovr May 2015 #12
jonno99 May 2015 #14
historylovr May 2015 #15
KitSileya May 2015 #16
geek tragedy May 2015 #17
ismnotwasm May 2015 #18
geek tragedy May 2015 #19

Response to Agschmid (Original post)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:03 PM

1. I loved the film and loved the strong female theme.

It was a fun twist to the typical hard core action movie.

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Response to Agschmid (Original post)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:06 PM

2. oops

I recced and then unrecced by mistake.

So what this is saying, I should but this movie whe it comes out on DVD. Make my sons and spouse watch it as many times as I have had to endure the movies they buy.

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Response to mercuryblues (Reply #2)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:07 PM

3. Yes, lol.

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Response to mercuryblues (Reply #2)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:17 PM

7. read my post 6 and get back to me when you see it. i probably will not watch now.

 

and i am not into violence, fighting and long chase scenes.

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Response to mercuryblues (Reply #2)

Mon May 25, 2015, 01:25 AM

13. Yes - chuckles. ..nt

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Response to Agschmid (Original post)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:14 PM

4. I think I'm going to like it

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Response to shenmue (Reply #4)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:15 PM

5. I wasn't going to see it

but the press is making me want to go.

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Response to Agschmid (Original post)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:15 PM

6. my son called bullshit on feminist perspective. he said, whole lot of excuses to have 'scantly clad"

 

women running around.

now. qualifiers.

i havent seen it.

he knew nothing about the feminist perspective.

he just got back in town and hit the drive thru, with no idea what he and a 'friend' would watch

he started with ... a stupid movie of too long chase scenes and fights and horrible dialogue.

(he didnt know it was the blockbuster and that he was supposed to be awed)

my concern when i started hearing it advertised to peak interest with feminism/mra battle was that it just might not be.

when i asked son about the feminist perspective, he snorted.

i have to wonder if it is another tattoo girl (men who hate women) that proclaimed to be feminist and was no more than a middle age mans wet dream

so.... anyone that has seen it with a keen eye to feminism, please let me know.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #6)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:17 PM

8. I imagine to appeal to the mass audience it's got to have some "balance"...

But interested to hear some perspective as well.

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Response to Agschmid (Reply #8)

Sun May 24, 2015, 10:21 PM

9. i want to know if it is bait and switch. tattoo girl, shade of gray. seems to be the in thing,

 

and to many women fall for it.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #6)

Mon May 25, 2015, 12:16 AM

10. My youngest daughter and I went to see it.

We enjoyed it a lot. I guess it depends how one looks at it whether you think it's feminist or not. I saw it as being female-centric and the feminist theme of agency over one's self/control of one's life is woven in between the chases and fight scenes, so maybe one not looking or paying attention would miss it.

Things I liked: the mutual respect between Max and Furiosa; the wives fight right alongside Furiosa, so they are taking part in their escape; the women are portrayed realistically, whether they're the young sex slaves/wives/brood stock, older and battle-hardened warrior, older still motorcycle riding white-haired and wrinkled Mothers--their ages and roles mesh with the film's message and each woman wanting control of her own life; everyone has something at stake. There are long chase scenes, sure, and violence, and iffy dialogue. It's a Mad Max movie.

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Response to historylovr (Reply #10)

Mon May 25, 2015, 12:57 AM

11. thank you for your thorough critic. i appreciate it. nt

 

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #11)

Mon May 25, 2015, 01:08 AM

12. You're welcome. :) nt

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Response to historylovr (Reply #10)

Mon May 25, 2015, 01:49 AM

14. Excellent write-up. And I don't know about the movie being "A Feminist Playbook";

like you I thought the women were portrayed realistically - they did what they had to do.

I too enjoyed the interplay between Max and Furiosa; he didn't act like a macho schmuck disregarding her obvious strengths, and she accepted his strength without relinquishing her own.

It was well directed I thought, with just the right amount of character intensity - for a Mad Max movie.

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Response to jonno99 (Reply #14)

Mon May 25, 2015, 10:26 AM

15. Oh, thank you.

Agreed. Very good directing. And the actors handled their roles quite well. I might go see it again.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #6)

Tue May 26, 2015, 05:03 AM

16. I haven't seen the movie yet, but one thing people have said that shouldn't be discounted

Is that finally disabled women and fat women see themselves on screen doing heroic things. Furiosa is disabled, yet from what I understand, she is the toughest fighter in the movie. She isn't heroic for overcoming her disability , which is the most common "hero" disabled people get to be on-screen, she is equal to the others. The fat women apparently has a pivotal job in the rescue. This is not something we see everyday, so even if there are young and pretty girls dressed in what the villain forces them to wear, it doesn't mean that the movie is not feminist.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #6)

Tue May 26, 2015, 08:35 AM

17. The 'scantily clad' aspect isn't for

 

gratification. It just doesn't play that way. The entire theme is that they refuse to be objects.

As far as the chase scenes, that's what Mad Max movies are.

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Response to geek tragedy (Reply #17)

Tue May 26, 2015, 11:14 AM

18. I still haven't seen it

I'm very excited about it. My understanding is that it's not about sexualizing women--the whole premise is they are sold into sexual slavery, a common dystopian theme, and fight their way out.

Another set of movies I love, the "Resident Evil" series features a woman badass who has a costume designed to be sexy, not as bad as it could be but still impractical, as well as other women through the series, while "strong characters", often are dressed more for display.

Sometimes the lack of musculature in these movies drives me nuts, like Angela Jolie in "Tomb Raider".

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #18)

Tue May 26, 2015, 11:15 AM

19. That's it.

 

Charlize Theron is majorly bad-ass.

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