My Reaction to Mad Max: Fury Road and the Utter Perfection that is Imperator Furiosa

Content Warning: Contains some NSFW language. This article was originally posted to my tumblr blog on 5.20.2015.


Okay so. Buckle up, kids. It’s time for Furiosa feels.

Here’s the thing.

I am what’s called a fetal amputee. Fancy way for saying I was born with a missing limb. I’ve written about this on here before, but it’s been a long time and I’ve gained a lot of new followers recently (hai guyz) so it might be news to some of you.

This is me.

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[ Above image: A photo of the author, a woman missing her left hand from just after the elbow down. ]

This is Charlize Theron as Furiosa.

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[ Above image: Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road – the character is missing her left hand from just after the elbow down. ]

I finally wound up going to see this movie Monday night after work, by myself, cause I was too thirsty for it and couldn’t wait for my friends to be available. Everyone was out of town this weekend for various reasons, so I figured I’d just wait for someone to go with, but then Facebook started talking about how amazing it was and I just couldn’t put it off any longer. So that’s how I ended up in a theater last night, completely by myself – not another soul in the room, sobbing my eyes out.

Because you guys. I am turning 30 years old next week. I’ve been a fan of action film my entire life. And I have NEVER seen a physically disabled, kickass, female lead character in a Hollywood movie EVER – not once, until yesterday.

(SEMI-SPOILERS AHEAD)

I am just about the biggest advocate for “representation matters” there is, but as a white woman I never really felt it applied to me all that much. Watching Fury Road, I realized how wrong I was. I’ve been this way my entire life and I’ve never felt “handicapped.” I’m disabled, yes – there’s shit I just can’t do, but an invalid I am not. For the most part I’ve always approached life with a “figure out how to do it and just get it done” attitude; I am loathe to admit I can’t do anything and I never give up without exhausting all the possibilities available to me. Watching Fury Road, I felt like I was watching my own struggle brought to life (albeit in a very fantastical setting), and I don’t think I ever realized how truly profound that could be for me.

Watch Furiosa load a shotgun. Watch Furiosa punch Max in the face, with her nubbins. Watch Furiosa drive a semi tractor trailer. Watch Furiosa fire a long shot, using Max’s shoulder to stabilize the gun barrel, as an alternative to using two hands! Watch Furiosa do anything you can do, but better, and with half the number of fingers.

The effortless manner in which this film has presented a character’s disability is incredible. I literally could not ask for anything more. It’s ubiquitous. No big deal. Her body is never a plot point. It is simply allowed to be. Let’s have some bullet points:

  • The existence of her missing hand is never mentioned in dialogue. Not once. I find this simple fact so powerful.
  • It is not made into something ludicrous for the lulz a la the gun leg inGrindhouse. Her prosthetic is realistic – it looks like something a real amputee would actually wear and use.
  • There’s no reference made to any tragic backstory regarding her limb. We have no idea how she lost it, or if she lost it. It may very well be a birth defect. More on that later, cause that’s totally my interpretation.
  • NO. ONE. EVER. FEELS. SORRY. FOR. HER. BECAUSE. OF. HER. DISABILITY.

Let’s compare this to characters like Ephialtes from 300. Though Leonidas treats him with kindness, it’s made pretty clear that Ephialtes is a cripple. He’s not going to be a soldier. He is ultimately worthless to the cause of the Spartans. Pretty sure if Furiosa had shown up in that story, she would have taken one look at him, shook her head at Leonidas for shame, and set to work building Ephialtes a custom set of armor and a robot hand to hold his shield in proper Spartan formation. There, problem solved, bb. Now get yourself off to war and have a good time.

In addition to being a total badass, the TRULY amazing thing about Furiosa is that she is also KIND, EMOTIONAL, AND COMPASSIONATE. The main plot of the film is her struggle to help these women escape abuse and slavery, to return to her homeland and family, and find peace in a simple life, away from war and suffering. She transcends the female action star stereotype of the unfeeling hard ass. It’s as if she were an actual human being, with real emotions and struggles, not reduced to a caricature of human existence. Buh-whaaaat?

In conclusion. This movie is feminist. It is powerful. It presents ability in a realistic, beautiful way.

Now, I better go. If I don’t cosplay this character immediately I’m pretty sure all my friends will riot.

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15 thoughts on “My Reaction to Mad Max: Fury Road and the Utter Perfection that is Imperator Furiosa

  1. On your way to cosplaying this, you might end up designing a really kick-ass left arm that you might end up keeping. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    But shaving your head?

  2. The film was delightful in nearly every way. Furiosa is one of the most refreshing characters I’ve seen in a good long while. Just splendid. Anyhow, I really, really loved reading your response — as I’m sure I’m going to enjoy reading many, many other bewildered and bedazzled responses from those in awe that this film actually got made in today’s industry!

  3. […] would have never seen it. (Actually, that is 100% true.) Maybe, if I hadn’t read about a girl who was born with half an arm and was so happy to see a badass, never back down, do what it takes, heroine, I wouldn’t have […]

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I’m a huge Mad Max fan and was thrilled to have such an array of strong women at the core of Fury Road. And how damned refreshing to read about a woman who thoroughly identified with an action movie character (we’re allotted so few of them). Furiosa’s awesome, yes, but you’re Furiosa 2.0! You’re wonderful!

    From one female action fan to another, here’s something I wrote about the women of Mad Max, pre-Fury Road:

    https://thisonpurpose.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/the-forgotten-women-of-the-wastelands/

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