Post-apocalyptic action. Mad Max, a loner in a desert world of male gangs, cars, and water shortage is held captive by an evil dictator. When one of the dictator’s chief drivers, Imperator Furiosa, turns against him and escapes with female sex slaves, Max is pulled into the ride of his life – or death.
Mad Max Reboot with a Gender Transformation
Actually, the logline isn’t really accurate, cause it makes it seem like it’s Max’s story. But it isn’t. It’s Furiosa’s story. She is the real hero of the piece. Which is interesting, since Max, made famous by Mel Gibson (and made famous Mel Gibson), has been the star of the series of post-apocalyptic macho mayhem from the beginning. It looks like this testosterone franchise just got itself castrated with a feminist subversion, a sign of the real war — on boys.
It should have been called: Imperator Furiosa and Her Dog Max.
I gotta hand it to Miller, the filmmaker, it is a brilliant tactic of social commentary to make an action movie that subverts the genre by giving the viewer what they want, but twisting it into an indictment against them. A kinder gentler misandry.
I wrote about the feminist action silliness of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Well, that was NOTHING, compared to this. Read on…
Okay, so the narrative is like Avatar in its bold and obvious propaganda. It sets up a world that has been destroyed by – let’s see, what is the fashionable doomsday cliché of Hollywood? Global Warming! You got it. All is desert. The End is Near! Furiosa seeks “the green place with many mothers.” Okay, so Gaia the Mother Earth Goddess, and her nurturing women against a world of barbaric male dominance, yada yada. We human polluters “poisoned the earth with filth and it died.” (“Who killed the earth?” some women echo in the film. Why men did, of course!)
The world is ruled by male gangs, cars and macho culture. Acts of crazy male “mook” violence by the “war boys” are ritually revered with sayings like “Witness me!” (that terrible male tendency toward attention grabbing), and heavy metal music is played live during their car chases on massive speakers the size of a small house (boys and their stereos!). And all of it is ruled over by a Marlon Brando Kurtz rip-off Patriarch. He is disgustingly obese, full of boils and is self-painted with white paint (in case you don’t get the point that old white guys are evil). He dispenses water to control the masses, and he keeps rotund women enslaved to feed off their breast milk (men live off sucking the life out of women). He maintains a harem of female “breeders” who are sexy Calvin Klein models that wear chastity belts in order to maintain his own bloodline. I am not exaggerating. This is every cliché of “the evil patriarchy” you can imagine.
Oh, and don’t forget religion. The men are also Viking in their religion as they seek to “live, to die, to live again,” in the gates of Valhalla. Two points for not making their religion the usual Boogey Man of Hollywood, Christianity. I’m sure, they tried. Unless of course, their statements about resurrection and “by his hands we are lifted up,” and “I am your redeemer,” are subtle expressions of the filmmaker’s Christophobia.
Furiosa, played by the otherwise sexy Charlize Theron, has her head shaved so that she does not look so sexy, cause after all, she’s just trying to break through the glass ceiling of this man’s world of road and track, so you gotta look more like a man. And us men wouldn’t be looking at her as the awesome action heroine she is, but rather, how sexy she looks, with daydreams of what sexy things she could do with that artificial hand appendage. Sexist oppression!
Furiosa’s goal is to help the female breeders escape, so she takes them on the road, and thus the entire movie is a road chase of the minions of General Kurtz trying to capture them back. It’s kinda funny that the filmmaker makes a point in the film of women being objects of male gratification with graffiti like “They are not your property,” and “We are not things,” but yet, the breeders are used in the film as a classic action male draw: They are hot models in skimpy linen bikinis. Is this creative nuance? Or is it raw capitalist exploitation of male nature, because Miller and the producers know that it will keep us males watching with fixated eyes instead of rolling them at the sanctimonious preachiness? You decide.
Max is a dog. No, really. He starts as a captive of the evil regime to be a “blood bag” for the war boys. (A means of transfusing blood to their drug weakened bodies). He has a muzzle on that he doesn’t get off until 40 minutes into the movie. Oh, and he doesn’t speak a word, he only grunts until that 40 minute mark, thus reducing the classic male action identity to Neanderthal-like primitiveness (No John McClane, he. Schwarzenegger be damned).
And of course, through his journey with Furiosa, Max gains his true human identity by embracing her nurturing vision of life in a world of male macho death. When they have ultimate victory over the patriarchy (Come on, do you really need a spoiler alert?), they return to the dictator’s palace, give water to all, and Max leaves Furiosa to be the new Matriarch, since we all know that if “women were in charge,” we wouldn’t have all these wars and violence. Except maybe against millions and millions of preborn babies, but hey, who’s counting bodies?
But here’s the thing. There is something eerily traditional about the underlying story structure of this feminist movie. I don’t have to agree with a story’s political or social worldview to appreciate some truth that may get through. After all, it is the traditional Christian worldview that suggests that the female civilizes the male nature by channeling his aggressiveness toward commitment to marriage and family (something not expressed in the movie). God created men to be physically oriented and strong, visually and sexually driven, and protective of women in order to lead their families and insure the survival of the human race. Conservatives and traditionalists alike completely agree that the unbridled violent or oppressive extremes of male nature, such as that portrayed in Mad Max, are morally repulsive, the distortion of a good thing. So, we would agree that we must fight the chaos of unrestrained male nature.
The difference is that we do not deny male nature or leadership as intrinsically wrong. We do not replace male leadership with female leadership, we do not seek to replace male nature with female nature. That is misandry, the lesser known counterpart to misogyny. We seek the values of chivalry. Feminism ultimately rejects male leadership and how men relate visually toward the female body as inherent injustice. Oppression and objectification. It is hostile to created male nature rather than complimentarian. Here comes the hate mail.
All that to say, I didn’t hate Mad Max: Fury Road. As a traditionalist, I actually agreed with some of its critiques of male extremes. I usually do. Does anyone support the Straw Men male villain clichés in movies like The Stepford Wives or Thelma and Louise? Of course not. But they are stereotypes, and stereotypes are usually condemned in movies, but not feminist movies, cause hey, we guys have to be nice to the hysterical girl as she is violently assaulting us.
To be fair, in the end, Max was a strong action hero (second fiddle, but still strong), who was not only “saved” by Furiosa in some battles, but he saved her as well. His plan and help was what got her the matriarchy. One could argue that was affirmative action by a privileged white male, but I won’t push it. There was also a very interesting nuance that Miller added to the story that he did not have to…
OKAY, SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU REALLY MUST DEMAND ONE
Furiosa is about to die after the big battle, and Max gives her a blood transfusion of his own blood. Ain’t nothing more metaphorical than that. Some Christians try to justify every movie they can by finding “Christ analogies” in them, as if that makes them Christian. No, blood atonement is not inherently Christian. It all matters what god you are sacrificing to.
Interpret it how you will, but I certainly can see the intimacy of such an image as blood transfusion as being a nuanced reference to the need for the necessity of that male within the female for her to survive or to be a just leader. A kind of complimentarian nod, thus I tip my hat.
Sorry, man-haters, you need us to survive.
That said, I am not sure it is a movie that deserves an Oscar nomination. An interesting thoughtful action movie, but best picture? Looks suspiciously like affirmative action and gender preferential treatment to me. That’s sexism, not merit.
But then I guess the Academy is more interested in left wing political correctness than merit these days. Was it ever NOT?
Hey guys, check out the hot chick in this macho fantasy action novel I wrote… (Click on it to pre-order)