My two oldest children and I were in line to see Mad Max:Fury Road on the day it premiered.
I’ve been waiting to see it for a long time. (Meaning, for almost a year I obsessively watched the totally dope Comic Con trailer that utilizes engine revs and gun sound effects as a theme. :::Shivers with Delight:::)
If you didn’t see it in the theater, I hate to tell you this, but…you missed out.
However, watching it on DVD or Amazon Instant Video–which is now possible, and which you can kick me a few bucks by doing through the above links–is better than not seeing it at all. And you do need to watch it. In fact, I seldom recommend buying movies, but when I do, you can be sure it’s because I really, really mean it.
It’s always a risk, being an optimistic person, and this truth is never more painfully clear than when it is focused on hopes for movies. (Except for maybe when it’s about romantic relationships. Or expectations about new pizza restaurants. But…this is a post about a movie.)
This is one time I wasn’t disappointed.
If you are sensitive to explosions and fighting and guns, this is not your flick. (As a favor to those who can’t deal with such things, I’ll just tell you that there are no scenes of women being abused. It’s vaguely referenced, but there is nothing explicit.)
If you love simple, brutal truths, and stories that don’t explain as much as they show, then this is your movie.
I was surprised, after seeing this, to learn that some hard core Mad Max fans were upset about this reboot. (I was not surprised, however, that there was somewhat of a fracas that popped up about it being a feminist manifesto.)
Yes, Max wasn’t the only lead role. But the partnership of Furiosa and Max is one of the most wonderful things I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. And the change in Max from hard-hearted lone wolf to ally and even caring friend is EXACTLY what I always thought the whole point of the Mad Max franchise was…we are all in this together, whether you like it or not. You can’t simply choose to look out for Number One, only, if you’re a human being.
I don’t know how men think about post-apocalyptic situations, but I know that for some women, there’s one nagging, underlying thought, that tugs at the back of our minds when we’re joking about the poles flipping, or whatever End of Days scenario you choose, that would result in a breakdown of society.
Everyone would be worrying about fueling cars, yes. And everyone would be scurrying for food, and toilet paper.
But women would have the additional worry, of “How do I keep from becoming a form of currency?”
Laws can require society to pay women the same amount as men for doing the same job. (Although statistics tell us that gender equality in pay still has a long way to go). They can punish men for victimizing women. (But we all get that it’s a continual struggle to keep that victimization from happening in the first place–our “civilized” world is still one where we have to educate young men explicitly about consent and invent things like nail polish that can detect date rape drugs).)
So, what would happen if our world suddenly ceased to have these laws that keep what we do have in place?
I think we all know.
Fury Road is a good picture of a dystopian future, and a way to explore in our imaginations what we think we would do, or be like, in that sort of mess, but it’s also an allegory about life now, in my opinion. The lessons it holds are ones that I’m glad to show my kids–male and female–and if you’re interested in hearing what I believe they are, I’ll tell you.
Real Men Empower Women
My good friend Jennifer, the President/CEO of She-Jitsu, a women’s jiu jitsu apparel company, has made a t-shirt that expresses this sentiment, which perfectly sums up my thoughts about women’s “rights” and the proper male response.
There’s a scene (don’t worry, I’m not including explicit spoilers) where Max acquiesces to Furiosa’s skill as a good shot when there’s only one bullet left. It’s a great snapshot of letting a woman excel at something she’s obviously good at, without involving ego. Something I’d love for my sons to be secure enough to do.
My Beautiful Sister Billie likes to say that a man should know when to stand behind a woman, when to stand beside her, and when to stand in front of her. That kind of discernment takes skill, humility, and a willingness to let a women be both strong and weak.
Real Women Empower Women
Surprise…She-Jitsu also makes a shirt with this message, which I consider another key component of this movie. (They also have a Real Women Empower Men shirt, which isn’t exactly a feature of Mad Max: Fury Road, but is a fantastic thought to promote.)
Furiosa’s mission in the movie involves helping women leave victimhood and live a free life. The strong should not only protect the weak, they should help them get strong, as well. Always a message worth repeating. Women have a bad reputation for being jealous of other women, and competing with each other for status, for men…that isn’t how it should be. We should be lifting each other up, helping each other. So let’s do it.
Men and Women Can…and Should Be…Friends
The relationship between Furiosa and Max disappointed one of my romantically minded girls, because as she said, “They should have gotten together!” (Okay, I guess that’s a spoiler. No action between Max and Furiosa. Get over it).
I’m glad they didn’t hook up.
Not because I don’t love a good romance–I do–but because I want to highlight to my girls (and my guys, too) that first and foremost, any person you’re even thinking about in a romantic sense should be, first, foremost, and finally, your friend.
If a relationship can’t start and stand on respect, I’m not interested. If we can’t fight beside each other and appreciate each other as people, it won’t work on a romantic level.
I liked that the main point of the relationship between Max and Furiosa was partnering in a mutual endeavor, and it ended, ultimately, in mutual respect. I like that they left it that way, because it reinforces the thought that sex isn’t everything.
When One Dream Dies…Get Another Dream
I won’t include a spoiler about the aspect of the story that I think promotes this idea, but it was powerful to watch.
In fact, one of the reasons I’m glad we watched this movie in a theater is that at this point in the story, my 13 year old daughter saw a grown man sitting near us cry. That’s meaningful to me. That a little girl can see a man moved to tears over an image of a woman losing a dream that’s kept her going.
And then you get to see her rebound, regroup, and listen to the advice of a friend on how to reform the dream.
And make it happen.
You may not come away from your viewing of Mad Max: Fury Road with the same feelings that I did. But I’m willing to bet that it will surprise you, and that you’ll find out that it’s not tearing men down to show them letting women be strong and helping them win against bad guys.
In fact, it’s a good representation of true manliness. The kind that co-exists with true womanliness.
And car chases, and explosions. And painted men bungee jumping with electric guitars.
Hey, I never said it wasn’t weird, in addition to being emotionally poignant…
(Edited to add: after seeing this movie, my 13 year old came home and immediately repurposed one of her old Barbies as a tribute to the fantastic character of Furiosa. Still on the lookout for a mechanical arm, though. I’ve never tried to impose my distaste for Barbie on my girls, I’ve always allowed her presence…but I won’t lie; it made me smile years ago when this same daughter renamed one of her Barbies Evelyn Salt, and it reassured me even more when she did this. The message is clear; beauty is okay, but badassery is important, too. Carry on. )