“The best slave is the one who thinks he is free.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The feminist debates surrounding George Miller’s Max Max: Fury Road are a red herring designed to dodge mention of relevant and deeper meaning in the film: Most obviously, its anti-imperialist and pro-revolutionary stances.
As we have seen with the legacy of Martin Luther King being co-opted by the establishment as one of only civil rights (ignoring completely his work to help end the Vietnam War), similar focus is stripped from the mainstream media’s conversation about this radically unique action blockbuster. It is a bold Trojan horse of a film—an arrow through the heart of the empire—and one for which director Miller should be applauded worldwide.
Like civil rights with King, social topics like feminism are approved subject matter for the mainstream and pseudo-alternative medias because they don’t threaten anyone’s bottom line—well, except perhaps that of some employers who may have to end up paying a bit more in salary to female employees. But that’s a small price to pay for keeping forbidden “cash cow” topics out of the conversation such as (in this case) the human costs of war, climate change, disparity of wealth, slavery, rendition, genetically modified organisms, non-violence, brainwashing, revolution—and even possibly the treatment of animals due to factory farming.
How often do messages even close to resembling these end up in blockbuster films? Hell, even independent film hardly touches on the lies right in front of us. They are subjects to be ignored, even when covering history, political campaigns or illegal wars based on lies.
One wonders, if not for the feminist angle to focus on, how the media would choose to spin this movie. Because if they were to ignore it completely, the blackout would be glaringly obvious and that’s something they seem to know better than to do.
If they were to attack it, they might lose viewers as the film is obviously very popular among critics and audiences alike (Rotten Tomato’s “Tomatometer” score for the film is 98%, and the Audience Score there is 92%).
Not since The Matrix, and before that, Oliver Stone’s JFK, has an anti-establishment movie of this magnitude made it into the national conversation—and Stone himself has intimated that the world will never again see another honest Hollywood film on the subject of Kennedy’s assassination.
No one knows this better than author David Talbot, founder of Salon.com, whose attempt at getting a mini-series version of his best-seller Brothers—about RFK’s mission to become president to solve and expose the mystery of his brother’s assassination by the very security state they fought together to keep under control—was left stillborn despite being optioned by Lionsgate:
There was buzz, there was excitement, there was love in the room. And then nothing. Chris Albrecht — the programming wizard who had made HBO not just television (“The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” etc.) and then resurfaced at Starz — talked about making “Brothers” the centerpiece of his first season at his new network home. Albrecht was all Roy Cohn, hooded-eye intensity, and fuck-’em-let’s-do-this swagger. And then, he had a sudden change of heart. The fearless TV mogul didn’t want to compete with the Joel Surnow miniseries, or at least that was the explanation. In Hollywood there are always murky back stories.
Yes, I know — “It’s Chinatown, Jake” — get over it. There are a million sad stories in Naked Hollywood. But something seemed rigged here, as one network after the next turned down “Brothers” — something political under the surface. Oliver Stone, whom I met somewhere along the way, told me in a matter-of-fact tone, “‘Brothers’ will never get made in this town.”
The Huffington Post went so far as to write: “And while there might not have been a particular social slant to the storyline, fans are hailing Theron’s character as a feminist powerhouse.”
The Huffington Post is lying through its teeth about there being no “social slant” to this storyline. Here are some bullet-points of obvious and relevant “social slants” in the film that the media is pretending don’t exist (stop reading here if you haven’t seen the film and plan to):
- Rendition: Max’s character is kidnapped, forced to wear a hood depriving him of sight (a known post-9/11 CIA tactic) and taken to the Citadel even before the opening credits.
- Slavery: Before The Five Wives of The Citadel’s tyrannical leader Immortan Joe are rescued by Furiosa, they were used for breeding (and referred to by Joe as “his property.”) This implies they are not willing participants. There are other women who are “milked,” which, like the dairy industry, means they must be kept pregnant (also implying rape). And after being designated a “universal donor,” Max is used as a “blood bag” for the sick War Boy Nux. As the War Boys set out in pursuit of Furiosa, Max is strapped to Nux’s car like a human hood ornament, connected to Nux via a blood-filled IV tube.
- Disparity of Wealth / Withholding of Resources: Resources are withheld from the Citadel’s wretched poor. Once in a while Joe opens giant spigots of water for them to fill buckets and bathe in momentarily, but not without a warning to avoid the “addiction” to water. There is also a giant garden that only Joe has access to.
- Climate Change: The “green place,” where Furiosa promises to take the Five Wives so they can raise their children in peace and tranquility, has become an uninhabitable swamp in the years since she was a child and kidnapped from there with her mother (another reference to rendition).
- Human Costs of War: The War Boys are sick with disease from nuclear devastation, similar to what has happened as a result of the US’s use of Agent Orange in Vietnam, nuclear-tipped missiles in Iraq and of course our nuking of Japan in WWII.
- Saving Seeds / GMOs: One of the elderly women from Furiosa’s clan saves seeds (she is actually named Keeper of the Seeds). This seems to be an obvious reference to Vandana Shiva and her mission to teach the farmers of the world how to save seeds and resist the laws requiring them to use GMO seeds.
- Non-violence: The Five Wives and Furiosa make a commitment before they embark on their journey that, despite their slavery and torture, there will be “no unnecessary kills.” These women represent peace and non-violence, a la CODEPINK. Considering the way they have been treated, it is an extraordinary statement for a blockbuster action film. The genre normally would portray such women as seeking revenge, but Furiosa seeks “redemption.” Perhaps for her participation in war…
- Revolution: The Citadel is overthrown and the people rejoice, tearing apart Immortan Joe’s dead body as it is dumped into the crowd by Furiosa from the hood of Joe’s Gigahorse vehicle upon their return. This reminds me of what happened to Gaddafi in Libya (not a real revolution of course, but regime change brought about by the West, masterminded by then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton). Libya is now a failed state. Revolution doesn’t usually end well for the people, as we can see by its results in countries like Cuba (Castro’s supporters were not fighting for communism and many felt betrayed in the end), Egypt (their Arab Spring ultimately brought them a military dictatorship) and Iran, whose revolution in the late 1970s was not a religious one despite the extremist government that took power as a result. The moment of the film’s end is one of rejoicing, but it is likely only fleeting as the next steps are most important and so easily co-opted by the same types of forces they are replacing.
- Brainwashing: The War Boys, covered with tumors, are dying of cancer caused by nuclear devastation, yet are desperate to live a life of meaning and fight for the chance to serve and even sacrifice themselves for Immortan Joe. If there’s one thing the American Empire does well, it’s brainwashing the oppressed to sacrifice for the common good of their oppressors.
Oh, but there’s no “social slant” to this movie according to Huffingon Post. This should be proof enough that HuffPo is no more alternative than CNN, Fox or MSNBC.
Maybe word will get out eventually about how badass of a film this really is. It’s worthy of the attention it’s getting, but really, it deserves more (as do the topics outlined above). Hats off to George Miller and the cast & crew of Fury Road for pulling it off. It’s a masterpiece, more relevant than anything else of this magnitude we’ll see in this decade, I’m pretty sure of that.
I personally think it’s fun to watch the media dance around the hot-button topics it is forced to avoid. Imagine having a career where your only job is to lie your ass off like that. I don’t envy them at all. I’m sure somewhere, someone is extremely “furious” at both the popularity and mere existence of Fury Road. I wonder if show hosts, copy writers, reviewers and editors received talking points from “upper management” about how to frame discussion of the film. Something tells me they probably did.
Art with relevant meaning is the only art worth making, and those who make it should be commended. Lets support this film and give the great American Empire, along with all of its associated corrupt industries of death, a massive collective middle finger.