Why Men’s Rights Activists Are Wrong About Mad Max: Fury Road
Editor’s note: this article contains misinformation regarding the blogger on Return of Kings, the classification of menimism and the calls for a boycott. This information has been sourced from leading publications that have not retracted their statements. We have left the article in its original state for semblance. Cultured Vultures would like to apologise for any offense caused.
Since its release, critics and moviegoers alike have praised George Miller’s newest addition to his series, Mad Max: Fury Road. With outstanding acting, amazing cinematography and vehicular stunts that will make you (or made me, at least) hold your breath, this film is 120 minutes of amyl nitrite-with-a-bit-of-coke fuelled mayhem and unforgiving carnage that any action fan should love.
Except not all of them do.
You see, Men’s Right’s activists, so-called “Meninists”, have been outraged at this balls-to-the-wall master class in action. Why, I hear you ask? Well, it has something to do with the fact that the story for this film is about women.
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Yes, that’s right. Women. Not burly men in BDSM leather suits. Women.
The titular character (played this time round by Tom Hardy) is unwillingly drawn into a plot masterminded by Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron) to save a harem of young women from evil (naturally) ganglord Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, whom some of you may remember as Toecutter from the first Mad Max).
So what’s the issue? Well Aaron Clarey, a blogger on Return of Kings, seems to take umbrage at the fact that Max Rockatansky was barely in the trailers…and that he spoke very little…and had a muzzle. Oh, and The Vagina Monologues’ Eve Ensler’s contribution drew some ire from him as well. This, apparently, in a way I can’t seem to wrap my brain around, makes Mad Max: Fury Road a piece of feminist propaganda.
Yes, the film does deal with issues of the female body, primarily ownership. Now I’m no fancy big-city lawyer or nothin’ but it seems to me that this would be a relevant issue in an age where people protest outside abortion clinics and old white dudes make laws concerning women’s rights to their own body? Is it not appropriate to show women taking a stand and claiming their own bodies and lives as their own?
Shut up, of course it is.
However, some MRA’s have taken offence. Some even feel tricked into going to see it because, and I quote from Clarey’s article:
“…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.”
So, as a man, I am insulted. Like, really insulted. And if you’re a man reading this you should be too. Are flashy special effects and explosions really all it takes to get our interest? And I’m going to totally ignore that last bit about this wholly Australian franchise being a piece of American culture.
But what really gripped my potatoes is that later on in that same article Clarey goes on to explicitly say that this film is a Trojan horse that will be used by feminists and leftists to further the trope that women are equal to men in all things, and that it will ultimately ruin all women for men, and all men for women. This is just after he mentions feminism co-opting Hollywood and ruining every good action film.
Not. Even. Kidding. For a start, if you think feminism has co-opted Hollywood, I double doggy dare you to read out the names in any credit sequence in a Hollywood film. This guy talks as if action films are few and far between! Men have no shortage of movie wonderdom targeted at them. Quit whining and go watch 2 Fast 2 Furious with its masterfully cerebral storyline.
Why can’t women, and women’s issues, be the focus of an action film? Is it so horrible a proposition for us to have our homoerotic, impossibly masculine Hollywood he-men taken away from us for any length of time? And yes, while there are a number of action films with female leads, they are still utterly targeted at men.
In the same way that Godzilla is not about Godzilla, this film is not about Max. Fury Road is Furiosa’s story. She is the hero. Max is a bystander, a helper character haplessly drawn in against his will, a catalyst through whom we see the story unfold. Ah, yes…I can just hear the chorus of high-pitched whinging from MRA’s complaining “Then why call it Mad Max if Max isn’t the heroooo? What’s the pooooint?”
Max is our point of entry, he is us. Through his eyes we see how messed up and crazy the Wasteland is. Everyone else is dealing with it, carrying on with life or giving themselves to the animalistic chaos of a gang. But Max is lost, too crazy to carry on living and too sane to give himself over to the melee. That’s why he’s the perfect catalyst to witness (witness!) Furiosa’s story. She’s not replacing him, this just isn’t his story. Miller is expanding the Wasteland, and any Mad Max fan should be thrilled at that. Max’s story isn’t the only one out there to tell, but for the reasons above he is the best way to view them.
Mad Max: Fury Road is not pushing an agenda. It is not a Trojan Horse of feminism waiting to split at the belly and cover you in “pro-choice” bumper stickers and leaflets on breastfeeding in public. Yes, it has strong female characters, but then so does every other Mad Max film. In the original film, Jessie Rockatansky is a pillar of support for her husband and son, and even squares up against Toecutter himself. In The Road Warrior, Warrior Woman is as tough as anyone else and chooses to stay and fight. In Beyond Thunderdome, we have Aunty Entity, who rules over Bartertown and invented the Thunderdome. And now, adding to that list of kickass women in the Wasteland, we have Imperator Furiosa, the girls she rescues, and a badass gang of women called The Vuvalini.
Yes, it’s a story about women. But more than that, it’s a story about humans. People working together to survive in an increasingly hostile world and redeem themselves. In this film there is no “Chosen One” that will save the day, they are a team and they fight (or die) for the good of the whole. Together. Yes, Furiosa is the hero of the story, but without her friends she would not have gotten far.
The MRA’s are wrong. Don’t listen to the people who are asking you not to see this film; you’d be doing yourself an injustice. I mean, really, the comments section of that article is a cacophony of sexist elitism caused by, oh I don’t know, being rejected once in high school probably.
I implore you to watch it, in the cinema if you can. It’s a spectacular film, a work of art and a genuine rollercoaster. And for the love of all that is shiny, come to your own conclusions.