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Feminist Criticism on Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road has been on the spot of critics over the argument whether it can be perceived as a feminist masterpiece or not since the first trailer of it only showing the men, cars, guns, some guy playing the hard metal song in the guitar got released. At first glance, it looks like an another patriarchal movie that shows us only the struggle of a lone man who is not one of the alpha pack. However, the movie is nothing like the trailer; there’s a strong woman portrayal of a warrior named Imperator Furiosa who finds a way to sneak out the women under the control of Immortan Joe and tries to escape with them. The titular brooding hero we see on the trailer turns out to be given no opportunities to appear heroic or badass unless he’s working as a team with women. The movie delivers a much more bigger message than just giving us a fight going on with the perspectives of the each side: it actually shows us how women can be equals with men in the battlefield.The most visible fact between Furiosa’s team and the men chasing them is that even though the women have an abusive past and are expected to be weaker, they seem less broken than the men. This is where the idea ‘the patriarchy hurts men too’ kicks in because Immortan Joe does not only subjugates women into giving him an heir and consuming milk from them continuously for the elite of society but also degrades the men under his control by treating them as some sort of mechanic soldiers who are willing to do anything for the false promise of Walhalla aka the supposed paradise that War Boys who serve Immortan Joe enter upon death. They’re interchangeable and desperate for approval.

Max, who becomes a source of blood for Nux after failing to slip away from the hands of the War Boys, unwillingly joins Furiosa’s team for the sake of being free again. He doesn’t bow down to her but accepts the fact that they’re equals; neither one of them is below one another because they both need help in this road. While in the Night Bog, we see Max failing to hit the Bullet Farmer and then after becoming a prop to steady Furiosa’s shot. Then he goes on a solo mission to kill one of the scary guys but it doesn’t even make merit screen time, instead, we watch the girls cooling down the engine. When they reach Furiosa’s native land ‘Green Place’ of Many Mothers, Max lets Furiosa to make the decision and respects her decision even though he disagrees with her at that moment. When they reunite for the final chase scene, Max is undeniably extraordinary, he fights many war boys, jumps over trucks, beats men with flamethrower guitar and all those are to reach Furiosa after he’s heard that she’s hurt after getting redemption by killing the villain of the story: Immortan Joe. The biggest heroic act Max had ever done in the movie is not a cool action sequence or anything but selflessly saving a life without taking a moment to think about it. His humanity and affection is finally put on display by his struggle to save Furiosa by giving her his blood without asking for nothing in return. This scene proves that the rules of being a man is not predicated on norms like being violent, possessive or tough but on how willing he is to help, love and protect others.

Even though there are many plot holes about the leading protagonist Furiosa’s past, her reasons to run away or even how she became a part of Immortan Joe’s army when there’s no other female warrior in sight on Joe’s side, it is obvious that the women are marginalized by either Immortan Joe or his cult. Immortan Joe seems to have a great affection for his wives because when Splendid uses her pregnant body as a shield to protect themselves from getting shot, he realizes he can’t take the shot and kill her. Of course this affection is not towards the wives but to the potential heir that they can provide. The objectification of the wives is visible when before they run away with Furiosa, they leave a message for Immortan Joe saying ‘We are not things.’ Furiosa takes them with her to ‘Green Place’ as she promised but when she learns that her native lands soil has been polluted and is in no use, she finally has a breakdown because the only thing she trusted before taking this road is gone and there are still men coming for them. This scene allows us to see the human in Furiosa since the only Furiosa we know until her outburst is a female warrior who doesn’t give away her true feelings easily. The remaining members of the broken matriarchal system, the Many Mothers, join Furiosa’s team to help her on the road and free the people of the Citadel. Some of these powerful women sacrifice their lives to save the others but the ones who make it to the city, become one of the founders of a new egelitarian system, overthrowing the force of few men that is still alive. 

Mad Max: Fury Road is definitely not the first female led action movie to be made , but it is one of very few that completely ignores the use of women in films as a sidekick or a love interest. With the partnership of Max and Furiosa, we get to see a vision of a society where everyone can be treated as human beings and not ruled by threat or force. There will be many other critiques upon this movie but it is certain that it is beautifully shot, fast-paced, enjoyable and yes, feminist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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