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Top 10 Reasons Mad Max: Fury Road Gave Me All the FEELZ

A few nights ago I watched Mad Max: Fury Road and was once again gob-smacked by all the emotions it pulls out of me. On the surface, it's not the kind of movie I would expect to especially like; an action movie with explosions, car chases, and violence. And yet I cried. I turned to my husband and told him how I could write a thesis on why this movie moves me. It's probably silly, but I feel like it revealed some angst-ridden bruise within me that I didn't even know was there.

So while husband slumbered beside me, I stayed up late, sloppily typing out my jumbled thoughts onto my iPhone in the dark. Here they are, translated into something legible. And oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT.

The Top 10 Reasons Mad Max: Fury Road Gave Me All the FEELZ

1. When Max doubles back to take out some bad guys, he tells the women to go on without him if he doesn't get back in time. Just as he does when he allows Furiosa to take the last shot, he doesn't seek to make the story about him, or suppose that they can't make it without him. His sober pragmatism leaves no room for ego, and this makes him a true ally to the women.

2. This movie does not pander to the male gaze. Though there are scantily clad, gorgeous women who are sex slaves, they are not sexualized. There are no titillating sex scenes or slow shots of their bodies or men ogling them. The only naked woman in the movie (and little is shown of her anatomy) is knowingly using her body as bait to entrap possible enemies, effectively flipping the male gaze around and using it as a weapon. The subtext of this movie is clear: the women are not for male consumption.

3. The women turn back to conquer the citadel, the stronghold of their enemy, when it might've made more sense to just ride off into the sunset and leave it all behind. Max warns them that if they cannot fix what is broken, they'll go crazy. I see the citadel as a metaphor for patriarchy. You can't simply run from it. You have to turn and face it because it holds the power. "And because he owns it, he owns all of us."

4. When Furiosa discovers there is no promised Green Land. There is only more struggle. Her silent scream. We must keep fighting. Even still, even after all this, her scream seems to say. A feeling I see echoed in women across the world still struggling for power over their own lives and their own bodies.

5. Immortan Joe, the villain of the movie, does not love or respect his wives. It is what they can do for him that he prizes. Their potential for being perfect vessels for spreading his seed. They are means to an end. Objects. Assets. Meant to multiply his glory. For far too many women, their power to bear children becomes a liability, and they are objectified and de-humanized because of it.

6. When the women are first confronted with Max's presence, they are not scared. They are wary, grim, but determined. Their expressions convey that they are long used to the sort of violence and threat a man can bring into their midst. He presents a risk. Will he take? Will he hurt? But despite not knowing, Furiosa asks for his help. And women do need the help of the men in their lives. With Max by their side, the women are stronger.

7. When the war boy infiltrates their rig and confronts the girls with his aggressive devotion to Immortan Joe, they don't want to kill him. They take pity on him, but they do argue back. Theirs is a perspective born from being close to the Immortan Joe himself, seeing him as just an old man who lies, while the war boy has only ever seen him from a distance as a heroic figure. The girls are quick to challenge his worshipful view. "Look how slick he's fooled you, Warboy."

8. Furiosa has had to play the game of being a pawn in Immortan Joe's army before she has the means to seek her redemption. She learns the rules, she even masters them, so she's perfectly poised to break them. This underscores the importance of females assuming positions of power so they can represent the voices of disenfranchised women.

9. The older women pass on a bag of seeds to the younger women, and it feels like a passing of the torch. To defend and protect those seeds is a hope for peace. They are the nurturers of life. It is a sacred trust that, as women, they uniquely understand.

10. Back to Max. Though he is ostensibly the main protagonist of the movie, he takes a side seat to the character of Furiosa (though at times he takes the wheel as needed, another metaphor for working together.) At the end of the movie, he leaves while she is literally elevated into a position of power having conquered Immortan Joe. He doesn't claim the glory or the girl. There is no romance between them, and I'm someone who loves romance, so imagine my surprise to be so delighted at finding none. They simply nod to each other, silently acknowledging the other as an equal. As a friend. Human to human. This is the most powerful moment of the movie for me, the part that revealed that angsty bruise I didn't know was there. Perhaps because in most action movies, women are treated as the prize men win for saving the day, and to see that cliché thwarted was like glimpsing the Green Land Furiosa so longed to find.

Besides just being entertaining as hell, I feel like this movie wants to say that we're connected. To each other, and to the earth. And you cannot hurt one without hurting all. That if you want the earth, or a woman, to bear your seed, you better damn well treat her right.

Happy International Women's Day.

Last modified: 2019-03-25 04:35:43


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