I saw the new ‘Mad Max’ film last night and it was wonderful.
I’ve read various references to ‘Fury Road’ being a feminist manifesto and George Miller making a deliberate choice to create a more gender balanced action film, which he did, but sincerely, is it really necessary to have such a furore about a mainstream film having a powerful woman as the central character?
Theron’s role in ‘Monster’ (which was a good film transformed into something special due to the amazing acting) may also have had an influence on the feel of this film, and I’m sure that the casting of her was no accident. However it does make one think that society still has huge issues around gender if a mainstream and very good film can create an outcry due to a strong and angry, female protagonist.
Sad to say women being used as incubators isn’t a futurist, or archaic, or even third world premise (just look at some legislation in the US on the way pregnant women are expected to behave).
Before I saw the film, I pondered on my own experiences of abused women.
My secondary treatment centre, like the first, was women only but this one was less focused on alcohol and drug addictions and more about core issues of abuse, dealing with it and learning to live in mundane reality with coping mechanisms other than chemical crutches.
It was a mad and tragic place.
As we looked at various abusive situations in our lives, our relationships with our bodies changed.
Often when you are in violent situations you disassociate from your body, and when you go back to the situation in memory and exploration, it is as if you don’t fit inside yourself, so you can become very clumsy and lose your sense of spatial perspective. At times we would find ourselves crashing into things, being awkward and ungainly.
At other times we would need to be put on written contracts, where we would pledge not to self harm, or vomit or starve ourselves, if we wanted to continue residing at the centre. We would be need to be accompanied to the toilet and not left alone as the pull to hurt and abuse ourselves became huge and all compelling.
We would go to AA and NA meetings huddled together in groups. Told to avoid men in such adamant terms we were frightened to even talk to them as any possible relationship could start a new addictive and destructive cycle in our lives.
I remember walking home late one night after a meeting, with one woman, Claire, and her saying that she hoped that we were attacked as she would have an excuse to beat and kill someone and dissipate some of the rage that was building in her body.
Others were quiet and passive, turned inwards, covered in burns and cuts and unable to nurture themselves physically.
There was a beautiful bulimic girl with Siamese cat blue eyes and arms that were a mass of scar tissue. She had an unwanted affair with a male prison office whilst she was incarcerated (she was kept mainly in the hospital wing); another woman was held hostage and repeatedly raped by her hospital psychiatrist.
The stories were endless and horrific, and I’d love to believe that at least some of these women found peace and happiness.
When I look back to stories such as these, episodes which occurred in contemporary, affluent Western society, I can see why the representation of a powerful female protagonist who liberates women from life as an abused object, presses a few buttons.