MAD MAX: A FEMWOC Movie Review

Five women stand in a staggered line in the foreground and middleground of the photo in an empty desert. The women are of varying ethnicities. All women are thin and dressed in a linen cloth like material

Five women stand in a staggered line in the foreground and middleground of the photo in an empty desert. The women are of varying ethnicities. All women are thin and dressed in a linen cloth like material.

I saw Mad Max this weekend. I wasn’t going to see it because it definitely looked like it could cause sensory overload*, but all the positive reviews and raves about the feminist attributes convinced me to give it a try in theater.

This movie is filled to the brim with action, and I have to say the design, makeup, vibrant colors, and costumes are a thing of beauty. I enjoyed the synchronized movements between characters and some of the manipulation of speed and pace. I’m already willing to guess that Mad Max will probably be nominated for an Oscar in costume design or makeup and sound mixing/editing.

As far as casting, it does seem as if this movie makes some efforts towards inclusivity. There were women of different ethnicities, ages, shapes, and sizes throughout the movie. Granted, the movie for all of its so called feministy qualities still oversexualizes women, but only the shiney chromey type (read: thin with minorities with features that conform to the white ideal). The typically accepted forms of female beauty were sexualized, while no sort of sex appeal was attributed to the other women. This is problematic. Fortunately, others have already spent time discussing the role of sex and feminism in Mad Max, so I’m not going to do that here. I also don’t want to be accused of not acknowledging how far we’ve come and only negatively looking at how far we still have left to go, so I will say that despite some of these problematic areas, I still appreciate many of the other steps towards the inclusion of women that this movie takes.
Mad Max is entertaining and in its own way beautiful to watch (can you hear the ‘but?’ it’s coming), BUT I couldn’t ignore what it lacked. When the movie ended, I turned to the black guy next to me and asked, “Did you notice that there weren’t any black men in the movie?” Where are all the black men?

This movie is not my brand of feminism and should not be anyone’s. My brand of feminism includes everyone and if we have to exclude black men  to include minority women, that’s not the type of feminism I want to claim. I want men and women of all races and ethnicities to be portrayed equally in the movies that I see. I want to know that for every Zoe Kravitz a Jessie Williams won’t be left off screen or *gasp* someone with a slightly darker complexion like Gaius Charles. I want equality and progress to stop being a zero sum game for minorities. I will not be pacified by standing in the place of my black brother. We should not have to occupy the same space. Is there not room enough for all?

*For people with visual and/or auditory sensory sensitivities, this movie may be overwhelming. During the beginning of the movie, the quick pace, loud noises, intense soundtrack, vivid colors, and sudden flashbacks made me very nauseous and somewhat anxious. It took a lot of focus to be able to endure the beginning of the movie. There are a few other areas in the movie where this was also a problem. If you are concerned about sensory issues, I’d suggest waiting until a theater near you is holding a sensory sensitivity screening or wait until it comes out on DVD.

3 responses to “MAD MAX: A FEMWOC Movie Review

  1. I haven’t seen it yet and was wondering how it measured up. I’m sorry it didn’t. :-/

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  2. I have to admit, though I am becoming more attuned to representation on the screen, I hadn’t seen that right away, but others who are much more attuned than I brought up a related and astute point, given the Australian setting: where were the Indigenous Australians, male or female?

    A couple of the actresses who played the Wives are Maori from New Zealand, I’ve learned. And there’s Zoe Kravitz. But not one Australian Aboriginal person, that anyone I’ve seen discussing this can tell.

    Agreed that the representation of beauty still hews to a white standard of body shape/facial structure/hair. In other takes on this I’ve read, I’ve seen people say–and agree–that doesn’t even make sense, because thinness is a sign of wealth in a plentiful world. These women should have been fat (like the well-fed women who were being milked) because fatness equals status in times of scarcity. But would so many flock to the theaters to see five fat women be rescued from sexual slavery? I have little faith in my fellow Americans, at least.

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  3. Thank you for your comment! Admittedly, I focused on black men because I was sure that they were missing. I was not as sure about the inclusion of other minorities and would have had a harder time proving that point, especially since I knew that they included minority females as mothers.

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