Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Fury Road Report

[personal profile] the_vulture thoughtfully funded our trip to see Mad Max: Fury Road, and there was enough left over for ice cream afterwards. Many thanks!  :D We really enjoyed the movie. Some of my thoughts ...

Here there be spoilers!

* Disability and representation. Although I have vague recollections of having seen something similar, this is the only movie I can say for SURE has people with disabilities in the majority. This makes sense because when you poison the world have basically no health care, everyone gets sick and body parts fall off. While it's heavily implied that the wives are the best specimens of womanhood to be found, the only person explicitly stated to be "perfect in every way" was born dead. Both the hero and the hera have handicaps, along with all the major villains, across quite a wide variety of complaints. It's more than background parity; it's the norm.

As a scholar, I rule that this invalidates other peoples' charge that this movie uses disability to symbolize evil. That claim only stands when the villain(s) alone has a disability, while the hero(s) is physically perfect. When people on both sides share the same trait, it has no moral vector.

* Disability and function. So everybody's disabled, so what? Doesn't stop them from having a war. You want to be a hero? Go kick some ass. You want to be a villain? Go blow shit up. Don't let the fact that you can barely stand up stop you. I love the fact the only time this even comes up is in a few brief exchanges that amount to "You can't go, you're fucked up." "So? I'm going." And then they go.

On the other hoof, these are also the realest disabilities that I've seen outside of pityflix. They are specific and they matter. Furiosa is missing an arm, which limits her ability to handle things. Max has PTSD out the wazoo and his hallucinations cost him actions. It's just a terrific example if you ever want to roleplay a disability by means of action loss, this is what it looks like. Bad guys catch up to him while he's jumping at shadows. Also you can see his leg brace in a few scenes. Most of the villains seem to have some kind of cancer -- there are tumors everywhere -- along with breathing problems and congenital deformities. The disabilities affect what characters can do, but don't stop them. If Lucy dragged everyone's agency down the street by the short hairs, these characters are mining it out of fucking bedrock.

* The bard. There's a guy in a scarlet suit with a guitar that shoots flame, strapped to the front of a rig like a mermaid on the prow of a pirate ship. Who says bards are no use in combat? He's there to get everyone's testosterone flowing, and it works. I think he's the best evil bard I can recall seeing. Also if the quick closeup of his face was right, he didn't have any eyes.

* Feminist angle. Confirmed. The movie does a terrific job of showing how women cope in a raving patriarchy, along various strategies. Sometimes you can get away. Sometimes all you can do is make sure the other guy loses. Out of everything that happened, I think that Splendid causes Immorten Joe the most grievous pain. Also noteworthy, as other viewers have pointed out, is how little discussion there is about sexual slavery. The women are too busy lighting things on fire and fixing trucks to talk about their feelings. Yet they still come across as women, not as men in skirts.

* Car changes. I love the road warrior vehicles, I really do. A few decades ago when the original movies were made, this would have made sense. Now? They would have had to use scrap metal to build almost from scratch using decades-old plans to get vehicles that would do that. Sure, there are vehicles 40 or 70 years old that are still running and look like that. But today's models are built of fiberglass and kleenex and most of the iron is in the skate, maybe the roll cage if you're lucky. They don't have the frame to do those things anymore, and they can't even be repaired feasibly. You scratch the paint and they stop working. So even though I'm no mechanic, it was nice to see truly BAMF vehicles again, made of iron and grit.

* Grim future.  This is what the world looks like when you fuck it up.  Mostly dry, barren, and poisoned.  California has about one year of water left.  (Oh, watch them backpedal from that.  But they absolutely are living far beyond their water budget and the snowcap has hit zero.)  Let's not keep going there.  I was really glad to come home to green-growing-things and fields that still smelled of last night's heavy rain.
Tags: entertainment, gender studies, review, science fiction
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