Mad Max smashes the patriarchy

Dear Dad,

Have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet? If not, head to the movies RIGHT NOW and watch it.

Did you do it? Hopefully yes, because I am about to talk about what an empowering feminist flick it is. If you haven’t seen it yet, though, I shall attempt to keep this post as spoilers-free as possible.

Let me start by saying that I planned to see this movie from the first time I saw the trailer. It looked awesome. I mean, hello? Car chases, futuristic desert setting, explosions, post-apoc punks, those awesome firework flares? It all looked rad! 

To top it off, a bunch of Men’s Rights Activist-types were enraged by Charlize Theron’s tough character Furiosa in the trailer, and called for a boycott of the film:

Not only REFUSE to see the movie, but spread the word to as many men as possible. … Because if [men] sheepishly attend and Fury Road is a blockbuster, then you, me, and all the other men (and real women) in the world will never be able to see a real action movie ever again that doesn’t contain some damn political lecture or moray about feminism, SJW-ing, and socialism.

As David Futrelle writes over at We Hunted The Mammoth, these men are enraged that an action movie would dare to have a woman in one of the lead roles. So of course, if misogynists want to boycott a film, I have to go see it.

I was expecting action, explosions, a post-apocalyptic world and Charlize Theron. But I got an incredible movie about the power and agency of women.

To start with, there are the wives, the pretty young women wrapped in white cloth in the trailer. The harem of a powerful dictator, they rebel and try to escape, setting up the entire conflict for the movie. And their mantra? 

“We are not things.”

  
These women fight actively against being objectified, and their fight is the central struggle of the film. All of these car chases and explosions happen because a patriarch wants to keep women as property, and they refuse.

There’s also a delightful number of women in this movie, not just the wives and Furiosa, but a matriarchal tribe of biker babes who are badass and good with muskets. And these women are of all ages, with more women over 40 in speaking roles than any other film I can think of off the top of my head. (I will say no more on this matriarchal tribe as I don’t want to spoil anything, except that they’re called the Vulvalini, which is delightfully campy as well as hella feminist.)

And then of course there’s Furiosa, Charlize Theron’s delightful, glorious Furiosa, who gets top billing alongside Tom Hardy’s Max in the opening credits, who drives a war rig and is well respected in her society, who is missing an arm and wears an awesome robotic prosthetic, but can keep up with Max in a fight even without it. Furiosa is fierce, smart, brave, willing to die for what she believes in, and absolutely mesmerizing. She is a complex character, not reduced to eye candy or a love interest, and watching her on-screen made me feel as if I (and women in general) was included in the intended audience of the film, which is HUGE.

In sum, Dad, this is a movie about women’s struggle against an oppressive patriarchy, their fight to be seen as people and not objects, all set to the soundtrack of cars, explosions, and that awesome guitarist hypeman guy. Go see Mad Max.  Go see it again and again! I know I will.

Love, 

Victoria

“The Book of Life” tells stories of strong female characters

Hey Dad,

Have you seen trailers for that new Day of the Dead movie, “The Book of Life”? I’d seen some trailers for it this summer, so when it came time to plan a Halloween activity for the boyfriend’s kids, I recommended a trip to the movies.

The plot seemed simple enough: Two deities make a bet on which of two boys will marry a girl both boys are in love with. Life and death stakes and journeys through fantastical afterlives as a bonus.

I was looking forward to beautiful animation, kid humor and a movie that focused on Mexican cultural heritage. As a bonus, I got a movie that was chock-full of awesome, independent female characters.

The first is Maria. She’s gorgeous and charming, but not content to be a simple love interest or prize. She’s the hero in her own story here, and she’s not afraid to assert herself. When a pig liberation runs amok, her father declares she must become a proper lady. Her response is, “Why?” When others refer to her as one of the male character’s “woman,” she makes it clear she belongs to no one. And when a suitor tells her it’s okay to accept his proposal because her dad already gave his permission, she is anything but happy with her father.

To top it off, she reads books, fences and knows kung-fu. And she rallies the troops when the town is threatened. If she marries anyone, it will be her own choice, and it will be someone who respects her as an equal.
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I mean, the Maria toy comes with a freaking sword.

Then there’s La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, a gorgeous, strong and wise deity. She juggles her duties as ruler of the Land of the Remembered and her tense marriage with the ruler of the Land of the Forgotten. She’s a fabulous matriarch who is always five steps ahead of her rivals.

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And then there’s the twins, Adelita and Nina, I believe. Their roles are fairly small, but they quickly became the boyfriend’s favorite characters (and possibly mine). These rambunctious skeletons fought in the revolution, “and we won,” they tell their cousin.

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I loved that these two women didn’t have love interests, and it didn’t bother them in the least. What they cared about was fighting for their cause, and how good they looked in their boots. They have some of the best comebacks in this film.

I’m pretty sure this film passed the Bechdel test on multiple occasions. And there are plenty of other women and girls I didn’t mention. The men in the film range from emotional to macho, too. Plus, directed and written by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo Del Toro, with many Mexican voice actors, it isn’t a movie about Mexican culture that’s been coopted by white Americans.

It’s also funny, beautiful, memorable, and boasts a great soundtrack. I was really glad we took the boyfriend’s daughter because this was a movie with some great role models.

So if you’re looking for a good Halloween movie (and totally not scary), I recommend “The Book of Life.” As a feminist, it was a joy to watch.

Love,
Victoria