Mad Max: Anarchy, Feminism & Breaking the Law

Here is my abridged response to a great movie: Mad Max with Tom Hardy & Charlize Theron —



Anarchy As A Caricature: I am an anarchist. I have to say, although I enjoyed the movie as a movie, its’ approach to defining the contours and ideas behind anarchy (and in this movie, its seemingly close relationship to fascism). A popular phrase that elicits both caricatures of fascism and anarchy would be: ordered chaos. But, for me, anarchy is too important of an idea to just let the sloppy cartoonification of it go. Anarchy is something that resists system. Yes, its true that systems tend to organize themselves around something or someone, which that in and of itself is a form of fascism. Anarchy attempts to emancipate the individual (corporate or otherwise) from the mediation of some centralized entity. It demands equality across any and all streams. Notice at the end, the anarchic side (as embodied by all of the Boys) is what is left, but they seem to assume, that a ruler must still be in place. In one sense, the movie is a metaphor for the struggle in US politics between the letting go of the patriarchal figurehead (even Obama!) and to move into a new era of a female President (as signaled by the possibility of one coming into power throgh Hilary Clinton).

Feminism in the Mirror: A mirror simply reflects what stands in front of it. The embellishments come from the person who sees what is reflecting back at them.There is the argument that Fury Road is a feminist angled story. I want to believe this, as a feminist, I want to advocate any form of progress, even if its just socialized entertainment. However, in this case, I would not agree with that assessment. Mainly, in the fact, that Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) practically “mirrors” the behaviour of her counter-part, Mad Max (Tom Hardy). He is silent, and so is she. He is tough, so is she. He is warrior, so is she. By the end of the movie, he still has to save her (i.e., blood-transfer), but, and here is where is it positive, he leaves her to lead the people. He vanishes, as implied. A vanishing mediator. For those who don’t know what a vanishing mediator is, here is a simple definition:

A vanishing mediator is a concept that exists to mediate between two opposing ideas, as a transition occurs between them. At the point where one idea has been replaced by the other, and the concept is no longer required, the mediator vanishes.

But, we can see the phenomenon of the mirrored feminism in politics. Sarah Palin comes to mind, where she claims to be a feminist, but is equally brash as a gun-toting conservative, and her aggressive behaviour looks nothing different than male aggression. How is this different or alternative? There is something to be said here about the ownership of behaviour, i.e., who owns certain kinds of aggression, and I don’t think its an easy answer – mostly due to history being so extremely patriarchal. But, for me, I would think Feminism isn’t simple the opposite of patriarchy, that’s too simple, and the very fact that if feminism defines itself through a duality, then it will never not be haunted by patriarchy. It must circumvent patriarchy. I think one way is through dialogue and creativity. To come to a place where there are multiple ways to be feminine that short-circuit the spirit of patriarchy.

Also, its key to note that the Max and Furiosa share a similar role, albeit, the film is more about Furiosa discovering this, going through a sort of spiritual journey (i.e., meeting the ‘prophet’ voice-in-the-wilderness who calls out and beckons the other older women on bikes), the role is of the one who doesn’t simply take what is given to them and accepts their given identity, unlike most of the half-dead followers of the tyrant. She leaves. She meets Max who is already an outsider, he is outside the law, outside the typical given identity, hence why he is attacked in the beginning, if you don’t fit in, you become a possible victim. However, in this case, both share the status of hero. You can never have more than hero to a story, which is, why he leaves at the end. In psychoanalysis, this role is more found in the role of the hysteric, (as re-defined by French Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, find out more here). Quite simply,this is the person who stands and points and proclaims, “That is not it!”, meaning, what you’re promised, or what you desire will not be met by that. It’s like someone who wants to buy some chocolate, and another tries to sale some form of candy that isn’t chocolate but then the hysteric comes in and says, wait, he’s lying, that isn’t chocolate. And in Mad Max, Max and Furiosa play this role. In the end, the movie, although starts out in chaos, proclaims that we still need order. Although they broke the law, in that, they were always haunted by in the form of some bureaucratic symbol, in the end, Furiosa gives in by becoming the new leader, as if to proclaim, that we think we can actually escape the law and find our freedom, but the claim is that our freedom can only be found in the law. I’m not sure, I agree with that.