Having Women in It Does Not Make a Film Feminist

I don’t even know how to write this...

Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself- I am a feminist. When I watch movies and television, I watch with a critical eye. I pay attention to the female characters, I pay attention to the casting choices, I pay attention to the way marginalized characters are represented. I remember I saw Blade Runner for the first time with an ex-boyfriend and he asked if I liked it, and I said something to the effect of, “Well, I didn’t like the rape scene.” He scoffed and said, “Can’t you just enjoy anything?” I’ll give you a second to roll your eyes and groan aloud. Yes, I can enjoy things. I do enjoy many things. I even enjoy things that have problems (Joss Whedon, I’m looking at you). What I CAN’T do is ignore the problems that I see. Mad Max: Fury Road has a lot of problems.

So, I saw it after something like thirty people asked me what I thought of it, after I heard the cry of the internet championing it as a feminist masterpiece, after all of my friends who saw it loved it.

And… WHAT? Y’all are punking me, right? Ashton Kutcher is standing outside my bedroom door to tell me that none of you actually thought Mad Max: Fury Road was A Great Feminist Film, right? Right????

Now, I’m not a monster. Of course I loved Furiosa. Of course I wanted her to succeed. Of course I wanted her to help those women escape. So, Furiosa was there in her war truck trying to save these women, and she had this huge elaborate plan and obviously was more than capable of executing it. Then Max came along and helped her, and long story short, Furiosa and her friends took The Citadel.

This film was supposed to be stealthily feminist or something, right? We weren’t supposed to know that it was about liberating these women? That’s why the MRAs are so mad, because they felt like they were tricked into seeing a feminist film? So, my first problem (on a long list of problems that I don’t even have enough time in my life to address so I’ll just stick to a couple of the problems) is that George Miller brought in Eve Ensler as a consult to help him with feminism and with teaching the actresses about the experiences of other women who have had horrible things happen to them. A lot of women have issues with Ensler, who feel that she is not qualified to speak on behalf of other women about things she hasn’t experienced herself, and I have a lot of issues with people who take the liberty to speak INSTEAD OF others, so I have a problem with Ensler and her style of feminism too. Regardless, George Miller obviously brought her in because he trusted her feminist judgement and it is unbelievable to me that people ate that up. It says a lot about where we are with feminism today, that people will champion anything just because somebody tells you it’s feminist. It is unbelievable to me that people saw this and thought it was a feminist film.

If it was supposed to be a feminist film, Max did not need to be in the movie after his first fight scene with Furiosa. Furiosa should have killed Max and that warboy (that’s what they’re called, right?) in that fight. The rest of it should have been Furiosa and the women she helped escape and the old biker ladies from the Green Place fighting the shit out of those war parties. That’s what I thought was going to happen in that fight scene. I kept waiting for Furiosa to kill Max and that other dude… and then she didn’t. I’m just supposed to believe that a woman who devised an escape plan for herself and all of these women from an entire army would have just fallen back and let some random dudes help her? No. If it was supposed to be a feminist film, Furiosa wouldn’t have needed the help of these men. If it was supposed to be a feminist film, Furiosa (who obviously had a relationship with these women) would’ve taught all of them how to work on the truck, how to shoot guns and how to fight. If it was supposed to be a feminist film, a woman wouldn’t have given up the reigns to a man the first opportunity she got. If all of those things had happened, THAT would have been a feminist film. If George Miller wanted to make a feminist action film, that should have been what he did with this film.

A lot of people are talking about how Furiosa was a complex and “realistic” female character, and how cool and important that was. No. Do you know what that is? That is the bare minimum. Having one realistic female character in an action movie is the absolute bare minimum. And I’m supposed to praise that? I’m supposed to worship Furiosa? Well, I do not accept that. I want more. I expect more. I demand more. I’ve seen movies and television with more.