Mad Max as Feminist Ally

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Title: Mad Max as Feminist Ally
Creator: Tansy Rayner Roberts
Date(s): May 26, 2015
Medium: online
Fandom: Mad Max: Fury Road
External Links: Mad Max as Feminist Ally
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Posted very soon after the film's release, Mad Max as Feminist Ally is an essay by Tansy Rayner Roberts about Mad Max: Fury Road's male protagonist Max Rockatansky.


He is also a badass feminist ally. He doesn’t mean to be, at first. He is completely out for himself. He starts out entirely selfish and only gradually becomes invested in the survival of the women who have – with Furiosa’s help – already rescued themselves. He doesn’t bother to stop and view them as sexual objects because he has more important things to worry about. He is never a sexual threat to these women, and I was never for one second afraid that he might be, despite their early vulnerability and the fact that it took them a long time to accept that about him.
It’s fascinating to watch the use of male strength in the film, mostly as a violent threat performed by vicious, testosterone-fuelled revheads (many of whom are very young men) and their vile overlords who sit in positions of power and rule by fear. Compare this to Max, who is male strength and power personified, and begins the story barely able to function as a human himself but, once he makes a connection with the women he is on the run with, never thinks of them as anything other than human and important.
Max is not the protagonist. He’s the helper. He’s Obi-Wan and Gandalf and the (good) Terminator. He’s in this story to assist Furiosa on the way to her destiny. She’s the one with the verbalised backstory, the one with a dream they are heading for, the one who is bowed but unbroken before the mighty final act. Max is Santa Claus, handing out practical gifts of swords and healing cordial to the Pevensie children just before shit gets real. He’s not the hero – he doesn’t even want to be the hero. But he recognises something in Furiosa and her quest to find a good life and safety for the wives, and he decides to help her attain it before he goes back to his grizzled angry life as a barely-hanging on survivor who doesn’t care about anything but his occasional angsty flashbacks.
This is a ghetto-blasting, adrenalin-pumping, violent angry action movie in which the good guys are often silent while listening to women talk. What the everloving fuck.