Why You MUST See Mad Max This Weekend

212061A version of this article originally appeared on Skirt Collective

Much has been made of the call by Aaron Clarey in his piece “Why You Should Not Go See ‘Mad Max: Feminist Road.’” As many articles have discussed Clarey’s ridiculous, hyper-macho douchery, (for example, herehere and here), I will instead offer a counter call: Instead of “mancotting” the film as Clarey begs “real men and real women” to do, I urge you to GO SEE IT! Go now!

Here is part of Clarey’s original call for a boycott of the film:

[D]o yourself and all men across the world a favor. Not only REFUSE to see the movie, but spread the word to as many men as possible. Not all of them have the keen eye we do here at [Return of Kings]. And most will be taken in by fire, tornadoes and explosions. Because if they sheepishly attend and Fury Road is a blockbuster, then you, me, and all the other men (and real women) in the world will never be able to see a real action movie ever again that doesn’t contain some damn political lecture or moray about feminism, SJW-ing and socialism.

In response, here is my counter feminist call to action: Do yourself and others a favor—see Mad Max: Fury Road and tell as many humans as you know to see the film, to discuss it on social media, to decry the Men’s Rights Activists aiming to make the world a hyper-patriarchal dystopia where heterosexual macho types horde all the power with their weapons of choice, namely violence, oppression, rape, enslavement and hatred.

Not all people will recognize the importance of supporting this film, many may go for the special effects and the popcorn, but even if they don’t attend wearing “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” t-shirts, they will still be treated to a great action movie which enacts feminism in both content and form. Those who see the film will help to pave the way for a future where real humans can enjoy movies that reflect the real world, which is made up of women AND men, boys AND girls, where gender is a continuum and NO, romance and baby-making are not the be-all and end-all of life.

See Mad Max: Fury Road. See it as soon as possible.

See it because Charlize Theron is amazing, Tom Hardy is a new and improved Max, and because the action is breathtaking and achieved with very little CGI.

See it because director George Miller happily proclaims: “I can’t help but be a feminist” and believes women are capable as actors and directors and are essential to telling imaginative, important stories—something that is all too rare a belief in Hollywood, where in the last several years, women directed less than 2 percent of top-grossing movies.

See it because it was edited by a woman, Margaret Sixel.

See it because Eve Ensler led workshops about violence against women with the cast and crew.

See it because, as MRA Clarey readily admits (perhaps his one correct point), Hollywood DOES condition us. As Carolyn Cox of The Mary Sue puts it,

By admitting they’re threatened by Charlize Theron … Clarey and his commenters are also agreeing that the media we consume and the stories we tell are hugely important.

See it because while Clarey worries women might be conditioned to want to be more like Imperator Furiosa than Sophia Loren (I know, WTF???), we can use that conditioning instead to feminist purpose. As Melissa Silverstein puts it,

A little girl can dream of being a hero just as much as a little boy can because she sees multiple examples of heroic women.

See it because, as Peter Howell documents, “Hollywood doesn’t often let females star in its big ‘tent-pole’ films” because “Male-dominated movie studios don’t believe female action movies make money.” See it because we need to remind Hollywood and MRAs this is false (as Hunger Games, InsurgentAlien, Terminator and so many other films prove that point).

See it to disprove Neanderthal thinking on the part of Marvel Comics CEO Ike Perlmutter and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton who in a leaked email correspondence “proved” female superhero films don’t make money by naming three such films while ignoring the many female-driven films that have made money and dismissing just how many male-led superhero films have tanked.

See it because Clarey’s assertions are laughable, and contrary to his claim that “feminism has infiltrated and co-opted Hollywood,” we still have a Hollywood machine driven by a privileged male elite who don’t seem to want to give up their own little version of the world, their very own MRA movement—“Men Rule Art.”

See it because there is a culture shift happening in media, a wave that includes GamerGate, calls to stop online harassment (#StoptheTrolls), an evergrowing feminist blogosphere, and a growing call to Hollywood to wake up and smell the feminism.

See it because while some see MRAs as a non-threatening fringe, they DO warrant attention because they consistently and vehemently offer sexism as the answer and their websites and organizations garner thousands of followers. (For some truly horrifying evidence about MRA beliefs, you need look no further than David Futrelle’s piece on We Hunted the Mammoth, which documents some truly horrifying comments running the gamut from espousing beating one’s wife to denouncing one’s daughters if they dare to have college aspirations.)

See it because, as noted by Nicole Sperling in her piece on the film for Entertainment Weekly, it is “one glorious, relentless assault” that may make us “never look at action movies quite the same way again.” As Sperling notes, the film “challenges our perceptions about women and freedom, heroism and extremism.” However, while Sperling claims the film focuses on the “slavery endured by all women,” I would extend this—the film actually details how everyone is enslaved by patriarchy. Yes, the women are the sex slaves whose bodies are raped as well as forced into producing breast milk to feed male troops, but the male minions are also enslaved to the dystopian war machine and turned into heartless warriors and slave-laborers.

See it because Furiosa is not a “degendered…eunech warrior” (as claimed in the Sperling review) but rather a gender-queer, disabled, bad-ass feminist hero who proves that heroism has no one gender, no one body type, no one sexuality

See it because it suggests it will take collective action rather than one lone (male) hero to save the future. In the film, it takes Furiosa, five female “breeders,” a group of badass gun-toting grannies, as well as Mad Max and other males tuned to the feminist cause to bring down the likes of Immorten Joe, the villain at the heart of this iteration whose names speaks to the fact patriarchy is not “immortal” nor is the concept of your average (macho) Joe a thing to espouse.

See it because we are all on this tiny spinning planet together and only together can we find the “Green Place” espoused in the movie where the water will be clean and people will not be oppressed.

See it because if you have ever doubted the acting chops of Charlize Theron, this movie will convince you of her incredible talent. She is absolutely fierce as Furiosa. In a movie with very little dialogue and limited characterization, Theron is able to exude an intensity of will and palpable strength of character that is on par (if not exceeding) other female heroines such as Ripley and Sarah Connor.

See it for the grannies with their mad survival skills, for the fierce “Breeders” who refuse to be sex slaves, see it for its championing of the one-armed sharp shooter Furiosa. See it because how often do we see women portrayed as better survivors, snipers and drivers than men?

See it because it is the best feminist road movie since Thelma and Louise. See it because Furiosa’s story is so much more powerful than Black Widow’s in The Avengers. See it because we need to prove Hollywood big wigs wrong and make Clarey and his MRA minions STFU.

See it to piss off MRAs and show them feminists will not be stopped by their testicle-clutching pleas of superiority. See it for their daughters, and sons, and partners, who can hopefully grow into a world free of their “Immorten Joe” mentality.

Finally, see it because, yes, movies matter, and if we want more feminist-friendly blockbusters, we have to prove there is an audience willing to support such movies.

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About

Natalie Wilson is a literature and women’s studies scholar, blogger, and author. She teaches at Cal State San Marcos and specializes in the areas of gender studies, feminism, feminist theory, girl studies, militarism, body studies, boy culture and masculinity, contemporary literature, and popular culture. She is author of the blogs Professor, what if…? and Seduced by Twilight. She also writes the guest columns Monstrous Musings for the Womanist Musings blog and Pop Goes Feminism at Girl with Pen. She is currently writing a book examining the contemporary vampire craze from a feminist perspective. Dr. Wilson is also part of the collaborative research group that publishes United States Military Violence Against Women and is currently working on an investigative piece on militarized sexual violence perpetuated against civilians. She is a proud feminist parent of two feminist kids and is an admitted pop-culture junkie. Her favorite food is chocolate. Visit her online at NatalieWilsonPhd.