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Mad Max and Feminism

 Illustration by Chris B. Murray | newyorker.com

Illustration by Chris B. Murray | newyorker.com

I keep hearing about how the new Mad Max movie set a new standard for feminist films, and men everywhere feel duped and wronged because the leading female, Imperator Furiosa, took charge throughout the movie, and was Max's equal in killing and looking tough.

The movie was 120 minutes of pulse-pounding trepidation synchronized methodically with heavy explosions and V8 engines. It was nothing short of a cinematic marvel with the plot matching the visuals in drama and scale. There were so many things to like about this movie, not least of which were the female characters and their role.

It was apparent Miller put a lot of thought into Fury Road's story and characters, but other than having a female lead who has a shaved head and no love interest in the main character, the movie stuck with many of the normal action-movie tropes. The post-apocalyptic society was male-dominated, scantily clad female sex-slaves needed rescue, and in the end it was Max's plan that was followed and ended up working. The list could go on.

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the movie. There isn't much I would change about it, and it certainly deserves all the press and awards it has been receiving. This just recognizes the fact that, despite this movie, there are still several steps that need to be made before women have the same representation in the cinema as men. It's not as if the plot was driven by a group of female soldiers vying for an escape from a psychotic regime.

So although it was phenomenal, just because Mad Max: Fury Road had several strong female characters in it does not mean it was a particularly feminist movie. I'm not sure why every book/film with important female characters (Game of Thrones, Hunger Games etc.) needs to be deemed "feminist" in the first place. Everyone should be feminist. Actually we should get rid of that word and start labeling the "non-feminists" who are, at best, a misguided sexists. Their thought process has no place in our world as we move forward, though I suppose I do enjoy laughing when they feel wrongly emasculated.

Go see Mad Max: Fury Road, and read this article from the Chicago Tribune. I think it's one of the best articles I've read so far about the movie.