Continuing the discussion from Mad Max: Fury Road [Review]:
I assume she’s internet-famous enough that someone should have mentioned them? In any case, I think she’s oddly conflating feminism with pacifism. She says “Fury Road is different from many action films in that it lets some women participate as equal partners in a cinematic orgy of male violence” as if there exists a separate realm of “female violence” or, even more inaccurately, as if “male violence” is just a redundant synonym for “violence.” She also says “Feminism doesn’t simply mean women getting to partake in typical badass “guy stuff”. Feminism is about redefining our social value system.” To which I’d respond that action movies usually don’t don the mantle of social engineering, but an action movie that straight-facedly and without fanfare presents women (even objectified and scantily-clad sex slaves) as clever and competent and fearless victors over heavily armed and armored and muscled male oppressors with barely any male assistance… well, it’s not hard to see why a great many halfway-educated people like me might mistake that for a feminist message. Traditional action movies present “damsels in distress” as being generally helpless and in need of rescue by a masculine hero, whereas Fury Road’s brides pretty much engineer their own escape with the help of Furiosa, and may well have gotten clean away with it if Max hadn’t slowed them down by attempting to hijack their war rig. They might have taken Tina Turner literally and sung their own refrain of “We Don’t Need Another Hero.”
Finally, when she said “Sometimes violence may be necessary for liberation from oppression, but it’s always tragic. Fury Road frames it as totally fun and awesome.” None of the violence in Fury Road looked fun and awesome for our lead characters (though the War Boys were conditioned to get off on it). And there was acknowledgement of much of the tragedy, such as that involving the fates of Splendid and her child, as well as all the flashbacks to Max’s loved ones that he’d been unable to save over the years. Was the violence fun and awesome for the audience? That right there might be debatable. Certainly I myself got off on all the vehicular destruction, but the personal human violence didn’t thrill me any more than it ever does. I view movie violence through a horror movie lens, occasionally cathartic depending on who’s gettin’ the violence visited upon them, but never fun or awesome. But I know lots of audience members aren’t like me.
Well, enough with the mansplaining. It could very well be that there isn’t room in real feminism for war movies or movies with an excessive and unacknowledged body count, no matter the gender of the perpetrator(s). Seems contrary enough to the feminine mystique to make our strongest hero Furiosa, but what do I know?
I do know that I’d like to hear more about it from our feminist readership here. Am I totally off-base in my reading of these tweets?