Like a lot of kids growing up in the 80s and 90s my movie heroes were some of the greatest ever conceived. Harrison Ford has the distinction of portraying two of these as Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Neither of these characters should require any sort of introduction, so I will spare you the formal introductions. Others included Rambo, The Terminator as well as John Connor, James Bond, and a slew of others too numerous to mention.
One that somehow has slipped from our collective memories, until recently, is Mad Max. Mad Max is a dystopian series based on what the world, particularly Australia, would look like after a catastrophic nuclear exchange. Much of this takes place in incredibly inhospitable terrain amongst thugs and highwaymen who will cut one’s throat if you have something they want such as gas or water. What I love about the Mad Max series is that it gives such horrifying examples of human cruelty when law and order break down and we are forced to submit, in many cases, to the strongest amongst us and trust that they are benevolent.
Max isn’t the sort of person to bow to anyone. He’s well armed, well-supplied (mostly…), and can take a hit on the chin as well as the next strong armed anti-hero. Mel Gibson played him so well that I would not want to be in Tom Hardy’s shoes any more than I’d want to be Chris Pratt if the rumors about him playing Indiana Jones in a reboot are true.
I recently came across an article, on a particularly interesting page, explaining why I shouldn’t go see the new Mad Max: Fury Road movie. Apparently the site Return of Kings is also insisting that I not only not see Max’s new movie, but that I should boycott it as well.
Now first and foremost, I’m a free American, so for this nitwit to suggest – from whatever “throne” this would-be-king sits upon – that I should boycott something immediately makes me want to see it all the more. Mad Max, while clearly a survival movie, is also about not bowing to powerful oppressors. The author’s issue with the new Mad Max film is that the character Charlize Theron plays is incredibly feminist to the point that she actually bosses Max around.
Nobody barks orders to Mad Max.
Uh, you might want to give Beyond Thunderdome another look. Aunty ran the shit out of Bartertown, even if Master Blaster did provide her with some muscle and cunning.
The author’s contention is that the new Mad Max film is all about pushing militant feminist propaganda. To be fair, Hollywood has a decidedly liberal slant and they do a heck of a job making any conservative message look paltry and evil. If you need an example, see the last three seasons of HBO’s True Blood. It’s not even good story writing, it’s all leftist anti-christian, anti-gun, anti-whatever we don’t like because feeeeeeeelings.
But for the purposes of storyline: you don’t survive in this environment, especially with a mechanical arm, if you aren’t willing to take a considerable amount of chances and prove to every person you encounter that you are truly an alpha badass. The world on the whole, particularly in the third world, is incredibly dangerous for women and we can surmise that in the post-apocalypse this would be no different. If you aren’t able and willing to kick some ass you are going to be raped and killed, and not necessarily in that order. The world after the fall of polite society is dangerous for anyone, so why does it seem a stretch that people of strength emerge from what you might consider an unlikely place?
To be fair, the author doesn’t contend that women are weak or inferior so this isn’t the issue. He seems to take issue with the fact that he was deceived into thinking it was a Mad Max movie when in fact he understands it to be starring Charlize Theron – who is not playing Max, but another character. He further concludes that this is an effort to push a feminist agenda that shows women being in a superior role to men.
I get some of the concept of what Return of Kings is going for. I checked out their webpage and in their About section the first couple of lines really grabbed me.
Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.
This put me off a bit. Partly because I am put off my the macho, alpha-male attitude. I’m not a masculine guy, but I love fishing, shooting, and hunting. I believe in our constitutional republic, and I believe that men should be allowed equal parental rights as well as not being considered guilty until proven innocent when particular accusations are thrown at them.
ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men. Sadly, yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny. The site intends to be a safe space on the web for those men who don’t agree with the direction that Western culture is headed.
This is the sort of thing I can get behind. Men shouldn’t be culture shamed in order to appease a social agenda. Rand Paul was recently quoted as saying (and I’m paraphrasing here): “The Constitution and the Bill of Rights exists to protect the rights of minorities.”
ROK goes on to advise that feminists and homosexuals are strongly advised not to comment on the forums. This isn’t because the men who post on there can’t answer the questions or comments that might be posed, but because it’s not the “safe place” that person might be looking for. In all reality, the same standard would probably apply on a feminist or gay rights blog.
I’m not a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think she’s a cool character, but I just couldn’t get into the storyline. I sort of liked Supernatural, but it’s a genre I have a hard time getting invested in. It’s good writing, but it’s just not my thing. I will say this about Joss Whedon, I really liked what he had to say when he was asked why he wrote strong female characters.
Because you keep asking me that.
Granted that’s about as loaded a question as when the little girl asked George W. Bush how she could best help the county in an era when he was under incredible scrutiny and criticism. It’s a fluff question, but the answer is appropriate on both accounts.
There is definitely an appeal to the Susie Homemaker character who tends the fire while then man-types go out and do whatever needs to be done to bring the story to a successful conclusion. That’s only inspiring to a certain extent though and people want to identify with a character who pushes a storyline through feats and actions. Making bread, cooking, and maintaining the household or camp are incredibly important, but people don’t write westerns showing cowboys fixing fences, feeding chickens, or planting crops on their homestead. It’s gunfights, stampedes, and indian attacks. Sci-Fi has the same problems because most people want space operas like Star Wars, Dune, and Star Trek. They don’t want the intergalactic C-SPAN or Weather Channel.
I write strong female characters for this reason. It’s also because I’ve had a lot of strong females in my life from my wife, to my mom, my aunts, and my grandmothers. When I need a strong female character I also think about Kate from Lost, Uhura from Star Trek, and Leia from Star Wars. The world needs Annie Oakley as much as Rooster Cogburn, but if you present it in a grandstanding fashion I think you lose some credibility. Much like celebrities openly supporting charities I get the sense that you’re doing it because you want someone to say, “Oh look how wonderful so-and-so is.” Any credibility you had for writing something is lost because you did it to push a commonly accepted and easy to regurgitate premise. It’s like being a college liberal, there’s not a lot of critical thinking involved because your professor is more interested in you adopting the “accepted” view of the world. Try being Ben Shapiro or Julie Borowski in college. Take my word for it, it sucks being the only opposer to Marxist ideology, but it is so rewarding.
I do write to push an agenda, but seeing as writing and art are often the domain of progressivism, what I write isn’t always received well. There is a market for it, so I do make some money on the side, but in my mind I’m helping to keep afloat the concept of self-determination and perseverance, much like what Max has survived on in the post-apocalypse. I haven’t seen the new Mad Max yet, but when I do, I hope to find that the story is written to honor the original premise. I hope that I find that the author of ROK’s article is actually right, but only in the sense that they betrayed Max’s legacy by giving a story his name when it isn’t about him. In this sense I agree with the author in saying don’t slap a Mad Max label on something that isn’t about Max. The story about a strong woman in the post-apocalypse should be able to stand on it’s own because THAT character is inspiring based on her own merits.