I’m Not Scared of Girls – Why I’ll See the New Mad Max Movie

Son, we need to talk. We need to talk about Mad Max.

And I’m kinda disgusted I have to have this conversation at all.

Actually, we need to talk about the women in the new Mad Max movie. Seriously. There is actual outrage because the woman are strong in Fury Road’s post-apocalyptic dystopia where food, fuel and water are scarce and civilization has devolved into leather-dressed, awfully tanned men with face tattoos and scantily-clad woman doing deadly car chases in mutant death-machines across the Australian desert. Okay, it might be about more than that but the original Mad Max came out in 1979 (along with Superman: The Movie and Alien) and featured Mel Gibson before anybody knew who he was. I was 6. My memory is fuzzy. The only other thing I remember is the Tina Turner video for Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and Tina with that snatch-back hairline.

Regardless of what I remember, there can’t be a whole lot listed in the above synopsis for outrage, can there? Really? But there is and the issues are coming from men having a problem with women in action movies.

See, here’s what happened:

I peruse a movies site called Screenrant because…well…because—don’t judge me. They have stuff I like. Today, I came across an article about the new Mad Max movie. The article talks about how George Miller, the creator of Mad Max and the writer/director of all the movies, consulted with Eve Ensler (writer of the Vagina Monologues) to make sure he created female characters that were more nuanced and well-developed than the stereotypical tropes of abuse victims we generally see. Better characters generally equal a better story. George Miller was trying to create a better story. Ensler called the resulting film (which has a 98% Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com) a “feminist action flick.” That went over incredibly well. Here’s a smattering of the comments that received:

ScreenRant Mad MaxAnd that’s only a few comments.

There’s more. ScreenCrush and WeHuntedTheMammoth  are also tracking this outrage from men needing to boycott the movie because Charlize Theron “barks orders at Mad Max” and she’s in front of him on the poster. For real.

Mad Max Poster

This is a real thing.

I thought about dismantling these arguments, about refuting the inherent ignorance in the idea of boycotting a movie because the women play a stronger role than what you expected on the poster. I thought about attacking the ridiculous notion that women can’t be leads in action movies or that some incredible injustice has been done to everyone with a penis because Charlize Theron is a badass. I thought about—dude, it’s Mad Max, not Citizen Kane. This isn’t a cinematic jewel, man, it’s Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and sand and death. I thought about saying all kinds of things but it really isn’t worth my time and talent.

These are arguments without merit, foolish exhalations into ether. They are the cowardly diatribes of the fearful. You and I know there can be no bad end to treating everyone as equals. There can be no adverse affect to my daughter growing up to believe she is as worthy as any of her male counterparts. I cannot see the how encouraging my child to believe the she change the world or save it is a bad thing.

But these trolls do.

And they are trolls, certainly, but they’re trolls with platforms. See, that’s the problem: they’ve found a platform. Someone is listening to the commentary, feeding the trolls, perpetuating the nonsense. I read these arguments and assertions on Huffington Post and Yahoo News and ScreenRant and ScreenCrush. Law & Order did an episode highlighting the whole GamerGate thing where female gamers, game designers, and critics are being targeted with violence, death threats, privacy invasions, and threats of rape.

This is real. These are grown men—someone’s son or brother or uncle. This is someone’s father. A friend. A co-worker. A roommate. While this particular issue is about a movie, it’s part of a larger culture that makes boys threaten my 12-year-old on a schoolbus or call her all kinds of names in the classroom. It’s part of a larger problem that turns Usher’s I Don’t Mind into a top ten hit and makes boys believe it’s okay to execute a gang rape on a drunk girl on a public beach in broad daylight AND RECORD IT.

These aren’t men. These are boys. Boys scared of the dark and their shadows and girls. Scared of the very thing they berate. Remember in second grade and you’d hit the girl you liked and then run away? This is that, but much older, much more sinister, much more pervasive. These are boys desperately in need of ass whippings. These are boys in need of men to show them how to be men.

We gotta do better, you and I. Us and them. We gotta do better. We gotta be better.

Good talk.

3 thoughts on “I’m Not Scared of Girls – Why I’ll See the New Mad Max Movie

  1. I admit it took a while for me to realise how bad sexism is in society today. I can thank my sister who’s studying gender equality at university for showing me the examples in our culture where women are still being treated as second-class citizens or objects. It really opened my eyes. Up until that point, my mentality wasn’t as bad as some of the others (thinking men are superior) but I wasn’t seeing just how hurtful it was for women being treated like an object of lust. I used to look at a music video or movie or even a female walking down the street & view them as nothing but pieces of meat. Don’t get me wrong, I still have lustful thoughts like any human being, but nowerdays I’m starting to be more empathetic towards women.

    I let you in on something, I’m a recovering alcoholic & I’ve been dry for the past 9 1/2 months now. About 3 months ago my sponsor gave me a book called ” A Man’s Way Through The 12 Steps”. It gose through each step & examines the negative masculine characteristics that have shaped men into who they are, including dealing with issues like difficulty admiting how we are powerless against alcohol, letting go of negative emotions such as anger & overcoming barriers to intimacy & relationships. Basically it’s a guide to becoming a healthy human being both physically & mentally & has helped me see that as men, we don’t have to be the strong silent type shut off from emotions or the agressive jock who can’t be seen as soft or the big shot asshole who’s all about the babes & the bucks. It’s shown me it’s ok to show emotions or ask for help when I need it. But most of all it’s helped me see women as equals. Even through I’ve not read all yet, it’s already made me realise just how privileged I am in this society where men are the dominant force, but has also helped me to be more humble towards women & how much they have to put up with.

    I hope the whole “boycott the new Mad Max movie” movement gets bitten on the ass. As I’ve noticed before, the more you tell people not to do something, the more likely they’re gonna do it anyway.

    I’m sorry to hear your daughter has to put up with misogynistic comments & threats, but from what I’ve read so far, at least she has a great father role model to support her.

    • So first things first, congratulations on your sobriety. It takes a big person to admit that it’s an issue and a bigger one to do something about it. You have my respect, sir.

      I didn’t really pay attention to misogyny as an idea or even a system I was contributing to until I was in college, and even then it was cursory. I was a Sociology major, which meant I HAD to look at those systems, but I was focused too closely on race to respect the impact of gender.

      Then I had a daughter.

      You look at the world differently when you think someone or something is trying to hurt your baby girl. And you change your perspective when you realize she’s looking at you to see how you react, how she should react, and if you think all of it is ok. That idea kinda drives me these days to call out things that I wouldn’t have in the past. How does it look to her? How does it sound to her? What happens when she reads these comments or if someone says something to her, what should she say?

      I saw Mad Max the other night. Fantastic movie. It was an amazing action movie, regardless of what its overt or covert agenda was. The movie has a strong story, strong characters, and was a Mad Max movie, complete with the radioactive mutant guitar player–and his guitar shot flames. Flames. How could you hate this movie?

      I appreciate the kind words as well.

      • Thank you for your kind words as well. Maybe one day I might have kids when I feel ready, it’ll be one of the best reasons to be sober & help me learn more about myself & be more aware of the world around me.

        Wow this movie sounds epic, FREAKING FLAMETHROWER GUITAR? I’m definatly seeing it now.

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