What a lovely week for self-identified alpha male types. They’ve been informed that the most dominant athlete in the world is a female MMA fighter. They’ve discovered that there are sometimes consequences involved with yelling “FHRITP” at female journalists and/or laughing and mansplaining the joke to them afterward. And now they’re beginning to suspect that feminism has officially destroyed action films and the world thanks to Mad Max: Fury Road.
The fury over Fury Road spewed its way onto the Internet earlier this week when a writer and “misanthropic, hedonist, nihilistic, cynical type” named Aaron Clary published a piece called “Why You Should Not Go See ‘Mad Max: Feminist Road’” on Return of Kings, a popular site for the lonely chauvinists known as PUAs (pickup artists).
Clary, armed with little more than a Time Magazine article, which states that the author of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler, consulted on the film trailer in which co-star Charlize Theron talks too much for his liking and “barks orders” to Tom Hardy’s Mad Max, comes to the obvious conclusion: “Fury Road was not going to be a movie for men. It was going to be a feminist piece of propaganda posing as a guy flick.”
Convinced that the flick’s flashy cinematography, explosions, and highly-lauded live action stuntwork is all just a ruse to force egalitarian ideology upon men who just really want to see things go boom within the context of clearly defined traditional gender roles, Clary warns that “This is the vehicle by which [Hollywood] are guaranteed to force a lecture on feminism down your throat. This is the Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things, including physique, strength, and logic. And this is the subterfuge they will use to blur the lines between masculinity and femininity, further ruining women for men, and men for women.”
Unfortunately, the writer – and his supporters in the story’s 500+ strong comment section – fail to employ much of this ostensibly superior masculine logic in his tirade. The idea that the Mad Max franchise has been co-opted by the sneaky liberals and feminists of Hollywood and that Fury Road is basically The Triumph of the Will for misandry denies any agency whatsoever to George Miller, reducing the man who created the entire franchise, who wrote, directed, and produced Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Beyond The Thunderdome, and Fury Road, to little more than a hapless pawn in the liberal media’s nefarious scheme.
Clary and co. never once considers the possibility that Miller created and executed Fury Road, a movie in which Mad Max teams up with a female rebel named Furiosa (Theron) to help a group of imprisoned women escape their abuser, because he thought it was a cool story. Happy Feet aside, Miller’s career is filled with strange and left-of-center projects. He even took the beloved pig Babe in some unexpected and bizarre places in 1998’s Babe: Pig in the City. So it’s not hard to imagine that he wanted his triumphant return to the Mad Max universe to be an antidote to the guy-saves-then-bangs-the-girl narrative that still fuels at least 85 per cent of blockbuster action movies. Nor is it unbelievable that capable women would be a part of that universe. Miller himself established the precedent for that back in 1985 with Aunt Entity (Tina Turner) in Beyond the Thunderdome.
Clary’s fear that Fury Road is attempting to brainwash people into believing that women are exactly the same as men seems similarly divorced from reality. The whole reason that Eve Ensler was brought in as a consultant (which, if this film really were controlled by Social Justice Warriors, would never have happened because she’s awfully problematic, in the parlance of our times) was because someone involved in the film realized that women might respond to trauma and violence – particularly gendered violence – differently than men would and wanted guidance from someone with insight into the subject. And the entire plot, which features damsels both in and out of distress, hinges on the acknowledgement that women are equal but different to men and might have their own sets of skills and challenges in a post-apocalyptic hellhole.
Clary, of course, thinks it’s preposterous that women would exist in any meaningful role in such a world, but his MRA fantasy of a dystopian future/MRA utopia in which women would collapse into mute and submissive property the minute they faced a moment of hardship is a far more ridiculous fiction than anything going on in Fury Road.
In the real world, women have been fighting for the survival of themselves and each other with or without the help of men for centuries, and the proof of this is the continued existence of women. There are examples of women’s strength, tenacity, and intelligence in almost every walk of personal and public life, from the sports world, where UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey consistently dominates with physical superiority, killer instinct, and almost flawless skill, to global politics, where Malala Yousafzai survived being shot in the face for pursuing an education and went on to become a Nobel Prize winner for her unflinching work as an activist. If anything, Furiosa is somewhat tame compared to many of her real-life counterparts.
If you really want an escape from the idea that women are human beings, though, you can always find solace in almost any other movie in wide release right now, where women account for only 12 per cent of leads and 30 per cent of speaking roles despite making up half of the population. PUAs and MRAs might be decrying Fury Road is some sort of feminist nightmare in which women are unduly pumped up, overvalued and made into something they could never be in real life, but male characters get that treatment in almost every big budget movie ever made. Fury Road, which is still written, directed, and largely populated by men, is simply a brief respite from that. And, if we’re really lucky, its critical success and commercial success will pave the way for a few more films like it.
If the guys don’t like that, they can always cry into their all-male Avengers playsets.