The Mad Max Furiosa comic, created entirely by men, is terrible about women


#1

[Read the post]


#2

In case anyone wonders, yes, George Miller co-wrote this. I am disappoint.


#3

VERY angry seems quite appropriate. One is usually MORE angry when not hysterical. Watch out for the quiet ones.


#4

Well, that was a fun glimpse of the world that could be while it lasted.


#5

I’m guessing whoever saw Fury Road and decided that it should be expanded into a comic made entirely by men:

  1. Actually didn’t see the movie, or saw a completely different movie than everyone else while looking at the same screen.
  2. Has never read a comic book, or has, but has somehow remained completely oblivious to the sexism infesting them, despite it being discussed and criticized more than ever before.

#6

[quote=“boingboing, post:1, topic:60429”]Sexton later doubled down this tone-deafness, deeming a female critic’s extensive deconstruction of the book’s problems with women as “fascinating” but also “incredibly subjective, very angry.” Really? There aren’t better words you could have used there than ones that sound like synonyms for “unobjective” and “hysterical”?[/quote]So, just to be clear: we should avoid not only using certain words, but also using words that sound like synonyms for other words?


#7

Also, Jesus Christ, there is a HUUUUUGE gulf between “rape” and “relative luxury” that other kinds of abuse can live in. Saying that those two extremes are the only possible places to take the story is baffling.


#8

That would be the films director, one of the writers and a story board artist.

So with that in mind, how much of this was already in their heads when making the film?


#9

So, #2 then? Or were the film’s feminist components purely accidental?


#10

Being kept in a cage and chastity belt is totally fine!
Stop your whining!
Yes there’s a lock on the door but thats for your safety! Its dangerous out there!
Geez, you’re so ungrateful!


#11

Perhaps.

I haven’t read the book yet (it’s in my queue) but can their not be a change of character between what happens in the book to what we see on screen? Can Furiosa not realize she has made a major mistake and sees the opportunity to change for the better? It was clear from the film it wasn’t just a quick decision to help the wives escape. She had to set up the fuel barter in the canyon, plan out the timing with the fuel run, etc.

While I agree that what we are seeing on the surface in the books story is highly questionable and circumspect, I just don’t see it being so out of left field from the story we got.


#12

I should start by saying two things:

One, I have not read the comic (and probably won’t), so I am arguing from a bit of a disadvantage here. But this post points out a lot of things that are supposedly unsupported by the events of the movie, when my recollection of the movie would support them just fine.

And two, I agree that rape scenes can be an overused (or poorly-used) device in films and comics and stories looking to generate tension/revenge motivation etc.

With that out of the way, on to the meat:

BB author Laura Hudson:

as a reader or viewer, you do not actually need to watch their abuse in order to understand that it happened

While it is certainly true that a monologue delivered effectively can be quite dramatic, film and comics are visual arts, and the cardinal rule there is “show don’t tell”. We frequently say “Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered, yadda yadda, we all know the story” and move on, and that is often fine; but there will in fact be times when the smart dramatic choice, is once again to show us the horror of a small boy watching his parents gunned down in front of him, because the viewer/reader needs to feel that visceral horror firsthand.

Comic co-creator Mark Sexton:

the use of institutionalised rape by Immortan Joe is not only **central** to the **story**

BB author Laura Hudson:

Nor is their abuse "**central**" to **who they are**

Hudson is “quoting”, yet misrepresenting, what Sexton said. He appears to be specifically talking about plot/drama, not character.

(NOTE: I did not read the io9 Whitbrook piece, I am relying on Hudson’s synopsis here.):

BB Author Laura Hudson, summarizing io9’s Whitbrook:

In this iteration of the story, not only do the brides not save themselves—Furiosa saves them instead—but it undermines the friendship between the women

I will only address the “Furiosa saves them” bit here, and will get to the “friendship” bit in a minute.

In the movie, it is quite clear that Furiosa is the motivating force here - in fact, if not for name/franchise recognition, you could drop Max from this movie entirely, because Furiosa runs the show. It is she who smuggles the brides out. It is she who brokers the deal to get passage through the mountains. It is she who fights, then negotiates an alliance with Max that allows their escape. It is she who teaches Max how to drive the rig. And it is she who returns victorious to the Citadel, presumably to succeed Joe and hopefully begin to institute a more just society.

The TL; DR of this is that from a dramatic POV, Furiosa is in every sense the protagonist of the movie; Max is at best co-lead, and the other characters have even less agency than him. Furiosa IS the savior.

io9’s Whitbrook:

Not only do the brides not stand up for each other in the instances of
abused displayed in the comic—they frequently blame each other for their
respective sufferings)—the relationship between the Brides and Furiosa
becomes entirely predicated on each side hating each other for being
women.

The movie presented a LOT of subtle evidence that the women in some sense saw each other as “rivals”, as much as “friends”. This is not particularly surprising in a patriarchal hierarchical hereditary kingdom such as Joe has set up - playing the wives against each other is a time-honored polygamist’s way to keep them at each others’ throats rather than your own, and these women had been chosen by Joe on basis of beauty, not pre-existing or likely camaraderie with one another.

At one point, the short-dark-haired wife (sorry, not sure of her name) says to Max, “Of all the wives you had to damage, that was Joe’s favorite” (referring to Splendid, the visibly pregnant one), her voice dripping with condescension, letting viewers know that this wasn’t the first time there had been some tension amongst the brides over who was currently “favorite”.

At another point, Furiosa asks the brides to reload the weapons, and one cannot; so another snatches the gun and bullets from her, visibly frustrated at the first’s sheltered incompetence, and loads it quickly herself.

Later, one of the wives tries to break ranks with the rest, and go BACK to Joe.

Bottom line: tension and conflict between the wives is perfectly-explicable to me on the basis of character personality/history differences, plus the situation they found themselves in. It does not indicate any essential sexist view of any of the characters themselves.

io9’s Whitbrook again:

The Brides are untrustworthy of Furiosa not just as a protector
assigned to them by Joe, but as a woman (at several times Furiosa’s gender is called into question by the Brides, and even at one point they go as far as to use gendered insults at one point, mocking Furiosa for her lack of balls).

In Road Warrior, Lord Humungus set up a society which was very homoerotic (Wez, and the “Gayboy Bezerkers” and “Smegma Warriors” under his command).

Joe, in contrast, has set up what amounts to a bit of a fertility cult - he is a “god” controlling and dispensing such “feminine” (symbolic) blessings such as water, and greenery, and fecundity (the overweight women producing “Mother’s Milk”, and babies). Mass hetero reproduction (at least for Joe and his cronies) is the order of the day.

Accordingly, it appears to be a bit of a homophobic society - the brides, more than once, call “faggot!” as an insult towards their pursuers, and one of them dismisses the idea that Max will rape them, because he is probably gay (I can’t remember the actual idiom she uses, but the implication and intended insult to Max is clear).

Point is, if Lord Humungus’ society was more “Greek”, Joe’s was obviously not accepting of homosexuality or non-traditional gender roles at all - and the brides, having been brought up there, would be expected to reflect that.

Sorry this got so TL; DR, and as I said, I have not read the comic, but the post seemed to have missed so many character beats in the movie that it seemed to be describing completely different cultural and character dynamics than the ones I saw.


#13

merely as a bunch of young spoilt girls whining about being kept in
relative luxury by an older man who’s concerned with their safety.

Seriously?


#14

“whining” - seriously. :confused:


#15

Just to be clear: we should try to avoid criticizing people by invoking cheap stereotypes. Sexton seems to have tried to find a more polite way to say that his critic is too emotional to judge rationally. That is a pretty shitty way to engage this sort of discussion, assuming you’re trying to do so in good faith.


#16

Comic co-creator Mark Sexton:

"the use of institutionalised rape by Immortan Joe is not only central to the story "

BB author Laura Hudson:

"Nor is their abuse " central " to who they are "

Fury Road was driven by what the characters did, the brutal nature of the world and what was done to them was made very clear by showing, not telling. They’re called breeders and they left, indicating it was against their will. There you are, they were being raped, their babies, a prize for Immortan Joe’s glory. If you still need to show rape its not because its central to the story, (Hell, its already built in to it!) but central to the experience you want the reader to have of the story.

Maybe there are some people unable to put 2 and 2 together but that was one of the most awesome things about the movie, it asked you to keep up, and it worked.

Again, its subtext, not the thing that drives the story forward, that they are not reduced to rivals but rather that they are allowed to be individuals who don’t agree with the collective but are still able to react, each in their own fashion is what sells them as people.

This was awesome because it told us there’s a backstory to each person, they probably had a life before being Imortan Joe’s slaves. It told us more about the world than what was apparent, this is what’s meant by “show, not tell”.

Right, BUT,

Its not that each of them isn’t their own person, its that the story being told is the same one we’ve seen over and over again, get the women together and they’re going to turn on each other. Which simply does not happen in the movie, so why are we supposed to believe it happens before they escape. It would actually make me wonder how they actually managed to escape if they weren’t supportive of each other.

Sexton:

Best answer is that the use of institutionalised rape by Immortan Joe is not only central to the story but without it, the story could be viewed merely as a bunch of young spoilt girls whining about being kept in relative luxury by an older man who’s concerned with their safety. Not really much room for dramatic tension there!

That is obviously so not true in the movie that it cannot be possibly true of the comic.


#17

I should also have stated, the movie was hella awesome.

I am not necessarily going to hit your points one by one (though thanks for being so thoughtful and courteous), but I do want to address something that I think is an unstated assumption by many (and I fell into it a bit myself, when I stated that they share the “show, don’t tell” ethos) - that film and comics are roughly-equivalent communication platforms, since they share some characteristics.

But the truth is, they are not the same. What works on the page will often not work on the screen, and vice versa. Strictly from a technical POV, film has thousands (tens, hundreds, millions of thousands) of “panels” (frames) to impart its information - and that says nothing of the infinite and layered micro-expressions by which human actors’ faces can impart complex information (plus motion, plus sound…).

Comics are, for better and worse, much more limited in their available avenues of imparting information. Which is not a knock on comics, which I do read and enjoy and which have their own strengths.

So while I agree the movie was incredibly strong in playing to film’s strengths and not “overselling” information and letting subtext carry the day, it is a bit of a false argument to say “well, we know this approach would have worked fine in the comic, because it worked fine in the movie”.

In the movie, Max’s eyes widening as he sees a chastity belt hit the ground tells us volumes. The comic creators may have felt that they needed to make the horror more explicit, to make it obvious to all.

The comic creator is not saying that the brides ARE spoilt ungrateful children; he appears to be saying he was worried that if the rape subtext was not made text, readers who did not see the movie (or were sort of dim) might miss the subtext, at which point the motivations of the characters makes less sense, and the dramatic stakes are lowered.

Again, having not read the comic, I am not prepared to say how right he was in his worry, and how successfully he managed to avoid that pitfall without stepping into other problems. He might have been wrong to worry, or right to worry but still totally failed in his clumsy execution trying to correct for it.

But it’s not an inherently-invalid position: that the demands of the artform might demand a different approach to preserve the story’s essence. Look at the slavish Watchmen movie, which managed to faithfully-reproduce the comic, and yet lose its essence.


#18

I wonder how much of the exposition of the comics came from Miller and how much of the story was elaboration on the work he did in creating the extensive back stories of all of the characters in the film?

You got an inside line on the contributions to the script of the comic he made?

I’ve not read the comic but the whole angle of not trusting Furiosa sounds like it has little to do with the way the characters interact in the film…

Perhaps the writers who took Miller’s back stories elaborated by creating a (melo-)dramatic distance between them that could be ‘overcome’ through their travails?

Hopefully Miller will chime in at some point to clarify.

At any rate, it feels like a betrayal.


#19

Yeah, they did a great job of reproducing the plot in the comic without Alan Moore’s original intent of making fun of the superhero genre.
They played it straight. When Alan Moore said that Watchmen couldn’t be filmed, I get the feeling it was because he built the story into the medium itself, its an exploration of comics as much as it is of superheroes.

Anyway, maybe Sexton and Miller are just better at telling stories in movie format, or maybe the movie was a fluke. I do believe that the movie sets the tone for the world of the comic, being that its created after the fact and as a result of interest generated by the movie, and that it seems the tone in the comic is different. YMMV


#20

Miller has a story credit because they’re based on the backstory work produced for Fury Road. He isn’t actually involved in the writing of the comic in any other way.