Sometime between 13:25 and 16:32 on March 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Male Power Fantasy (and why Mad Max and Captain Kirk don’t fit): This relates to a theory I have, which is that the archetypal Western Male Hero is James Bond, to the degree that people (Mainly straight white men) start to see every Western Male Hero as James Bond. Which is to say an aggressively masculine, quip-spitting, hyper violent womanizer. The ultimate Male Power Fantasy. A new supermodel love interest (or two) every film, a gun in his hand, and no consequences for his actions.
  • So many biological genders: If anyone tells you that there are 2-3 sexes in the world I want you to just go ahead and slap them.
  • Fight Club and toxic masculinity (with a side of Mad Max: Fury Road): Hold up – you mean there are people who watch Fight Club and don’t realise that Tyler Durden is meant to be full of shit?
  • Geisha FAQ: Please do not spread misconceptions about these hard-working women artists. They deserve respect and have persevered for centuries with women at the forefront of these professions.
  • Earth is dangerous: I really want a science fiction story where aliens come to invade earth and effortlessly wipe out humanity, only to be fought off by the wildlife.
  • Of privilege and nostalgia: The reality is, there was never a time when everyone could just enjoy things. To be able to say you had that time is to admit the privilege you had at not having to think about problematic behavior because it didn’t negatively affect your life.
  • To everyone else in the galaxy, all humans are basically Doc Brown.: Random Headcanon: That Federation vessels in Star Trek seem to experience bizarre malfunctions with such overwhelming frequency isn’t just an artefact of the television serial format. Rather, it’s because the Federation as a culture are a bunch of deranged hyper-neophiles, tooling around in ships packed full of beyond-cutting-edge tech they don’t really understand.
  • Snarky but amusing and thorough Romeo and Juliet analysis: SUMMARY: Romeo and Juliet is a stunningly rich play that is mostly about how feuds fuck people over badly and how if you have to wait until YOUR KIDS OFF THEMSELVES to figure that out you deserve to lose your children. Romeo and Juliet are victims of the feud and its mindless death-lust, not perpetrators of death on others. They’re not supposed to be figures of ridicule OR representatives of True Love: they’re supposed to make the audience go “oh BABIES, no, you’re going to end so badly” and then be sad when they do.
  • The singular “they”: Next time someone complains about singular “they” I’ll point them to this 17th century rant against singular “you”.

Prairie and I spent three nights last week watching the entire Mad Max trilogy: Mad Max, The Road Warrior, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

The first two, I have to admit, we kept alternating between laughing at and being fairly horrified by. Sure, they’re considered classics of sci-fi/action/post-apocalyptic movies…but wow. Two things kept striking us over and over:

  1. No woman goes unpunished. Almost without fail, every woman who appears on screen is either raped, dead, or abused into catatonia by the end of the films. In Mad Max, the only female character who escapes such a fate is the 60-something lady who owns the house that Max and his wife stay at…so apparently the only way to survive as a woman in this world is to be too old to be concerned with.

    Women fare a little bit better in The Road Warrior, though that may only be because there are more women in the film as background characters in the refinery compound. There’s really only three women that are given any memorable screen time: one who is raped and killed in the distance as Max watches through a telescope; one older woman in the compound who rants, raves, and is generally little more than a Voice of Doom; and one younger woman who serves as little more than a vapid but pretty face for the minicopter pilot to hit on — though at least those two do survive the movie.

  2. The homoerotic imagery, especially when coupled with the fate of the various characters. From the butch leather man costuming of the police force in Mad Max (especially Chief ‘Fifi’, who parades around in naught but tight leather pants and scarf while watering plants) to the range of stereotypes represented by the various bad guys (pastels, prancing, eyeshadow, androgynous appearances, BDSM gear, etc.)…all we could think was that the movies had been made by someone who was extremely unhappy with their homosexuality.

    Max himself as the hero (or, more accurately, anti-hero) is the sole obviously heterosexual “man’s man”, out on a mission to wipe clean the light-in-the-loafers renegade bikers (even when the bikers attack a young couple, when found later by Max and his partner, it’s only the guy that has lost his pants — the girl, while catatonic, is still dressed). The “homosexuality is bad and evil and should get you killed” subtext is so blatant that it hardly even counts as subtext anymore. I kept remarking that I’d be surprised if entire treatises hadn’t been written exploring this, and from the looks of a quick Google search for ‘“Mad Max” homoerotic‘, it looks like I was right.

Thankfully, Beyond Thunderdome was a far better movie than either of the first two. The costuming was an obvious evolution of the post-apocalyptic fashions of the first two (managing to carry the visual theme while decreasing, if not quite completely removing, the homoerotic overtones), the world was no longer divided into “straight = good, gay = bad” camps, and there were not just one, but two decent female characters — and they even managed to find a plot that was more engrossing than simply “drive around and kill things.”

By the time we’d sat through the first two films, both Prairie and I were approaching the third with no small degree of trepidation…but as the credits rolled, we were both rather pleasantly surprised to find that we’d both actually liked the last film. Not only was the story far more interesting (actually two separate but overlapping stories: the battle between Auntie and Master Blaster for control of Bartertown; and the lost tribe of children waiting for Captain Walker), but the characters were developed beyond the one-dimensional portraits they’d been in the first two films (Max himself gains some humanity, and Master goes from bad guy in the first half of the film to good guy and fellow escapee in the latter half).

I found the second half of Thunderdome to be more interesting than the first — the battle for control of Bartertown was fun and all, but the lost tribe of children were far more interesting to me, especially linguistically. The writers had come up with a very believable pigdin English for the children to use, and the two storytelling sequences that bookend the last half of the film were beautifully done.

So when all’s said and done, I’m not a big fan of Mad Max as a trilogy — but you can definitely count me as a fan of Beyond Thunderdome.

iTunesProfessional Widow (Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin’)” by Amos, Tori from the album Professional Widow (1996, 8:06).