Spolilers for Mad Max: Fury Road contained below
I’ve got to tell you, I really want to stop calling Mad Max: Fury Road a “feminist movie”. I’ve read some amazing stuff over the last few days, having seen the movie at the weekend and had it blow my goddam mind! The Mary Sue touched on Fury Road addressing the possible lack of feminism in the previous movies, Consequence of Sound called out the male outrage over the movie, and Vox gives an amazing overview of the world of Mad Max – ending on a fantastic summary:
Fury Road’s feminist themes, then, don’t just take aim at the hyper-masculine world of action films. They take aim at any time men mistreat women at all, then suggest that that mistreatment is fundamental in making the world a worse place. It’s a bold tack to take in a film that is, on some level, about who can drive a car the fastest, but that’s part of what makes Fury Road feel less like yet another sequel and more like the start of something new.
Despite all of this, I still really want to just be calling it a movie. I want that because I want all movies to do what Fury Road does –
- Treat female characters as equal to the male characters
- Showing female characters as being as capable as the male characters – not every woman needs rescuing!
- Show that women exist in the future (and also in the past and present by the way!)
- Develop female characters into fleshed out characters the same way male characters are
- Have the lead male and female characters interact without a romance having to happen – with the exception of Max’s wife in the first movie, this has always been the case in the Mad Max franchise and I’m glad they felt no pressure to change it!
- Demonstrate that genres traditionally marketed to men (though also watched by women don’t ya know), can succeed with a majority female cast or at the least without treating women as objects and plot devices for the benefit of the male characters
- Show many different types of women without them becoming tropes – the strong but occasionally vulnerable Furiosa, the pregnant but brave Angharad, even the milk mothers stand out at the end of the movie as being these oppressed women who are the first to turn that damn water back on!!
- And let’s be clear, men aren’t the bad guys in this movie – this isn’t some kind of promotion of female supremacy (as some people assume feminism to be). All the characters are well drawn and have depth – in fact you can almost sympathise with the reasoning behind Immortan Joe’s desire to breed healthy children, even if not his methods. One scene that really touched me was actually Immortan’s son Rictus announcing that his would-be baby brother would have been “perfect”. His pride in this demonstrated how well drawn even the male characters were without sacrificing the female characters.
Yes, I long for the day when Fury Road isn’t a “feminist movie”, but an example of one of the first movies of a new norm where women are automatically treated like actual people.