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Mad Max: Fury Road is DISTURBING.

July 27, 2015

I just finally watched Mad Max: Fury Road. I dare say, it’s an awesome movie but by the end of it, I was super disturbed. Spoilers ahead.

When I was still in grade school, almost heading toward middle school, I remember one day, they showed videos/pictures of scenes from Bosnia. I can’t remember what for. I was in the library club and well, Bosnia’s been in the news for years y’know? Anyway, at that age, I’ve seen my fair share of movies with horrible or grotesque or monstrous imagery. I’ve seen movie violence. But when I saw uncensored scenes of Bosnia, well, I stayed and watched out of childish machismo, but damn was I disturbed. I mean, people reduced to charred corpses, people laying dead and naked… the real stuff is disturbing on a primal level. Games and movies really don’t desensitize you to the real thing.

Anyway, Fury Road started normal enough and then we had awesome stuff like that music truck.

But y’know… toward the second half/third quarter… it’s sort of undeniable that you’re watching a movie with the bad guys winning and destined to win.

Like, seriously, the Warlords were not only completely innocent but by the end of it, you realize they’re the only ones keeping a functional society intact and that at the end, you are witness to humanity going right down the shitter.

Okay, I’m gonna further spoil by explaining things now…

First, the main plot is that Imperator Furiosa stole away a bunch of “breeding stock” from the main bad guy, Immorten Joe. So now Joe’s chasing her down with his entire army. Okay, now let’s look at the “bad guys”.

It all started with a boy named Nux. There he was, being given Mad Max’s blood. What a creepy guy right? And then his Lancer, the guy who normally attacks while Nux drives, tries to steal Nux’s steering wheel so he could drive the car himself. It’s a dog eat dog world where everyone’s a selfish prick… right?

Not precisely, first of all, Nux was not allowed to participate in chasing down our “heroes” because he was dying, hence the need for Max’s blood. His PHYSICIAN refused to let him go on grounds of his safety. Hell, it was apparently Warlord policy that if you’re unable to participate due to health reasons, you need to stay at the fucking hospital. But Nux insisted and a compromise was made that he’d bring his “blood bag”, Max with him. And his “traitorous” Lancer was fine with it.

As the film progresses, we see camaraderie between the Warlord cannon fodder. For instance, when Joe looked at Nux, he totally geeked out and his Lancer was like “He wasn’t looking at you, he was scanning the horizon!” It was a total “bro” moment. Or like, when the troops DECEIVED by Furiosa begin to question her, Nux caught up to them and took out his gun to… NOT shoot Furiosa because the deceived troops were in the way. He repeatedly yelled for them to “get out of the way”. If this were the 80s, the “bad guys” would totally just shoot their fellow cannon fodder in the back to get a clear shot at the “heroes”, but here, we don’t see that.

Hell, later on, when Max subdued Furiosa, Nux was so grateful that they caught Furiosa alive, that he happily released Max. And he just assumed Max would continue to keep Furiosa at gunpoint while they wait for Joe to catch up and reward them with their hearts’ desires. Nux plans to ask to drive a big rig truck.

It was at this time that we realize that the “breeders” were not only a bunch of super models, but that they lived pampered and sheltered lives thanks to Joe. They wasted water, they were petulant and bitchy, but perhaps worst of all, it was obvious that they were… educated. Joe fucking let them have an education. And not just book smarts, but practical knowledge as well. They don’t have a mark on them. All he asks of them is to put out some nookie so that he could produce a non-mutant heir.

So, without recapping the entire movie, suffice it to say, an objective observer would see that the “bad guys” literally did nothing the fuck wrong in the entire movie. Even the non-affiliated bad guys, a buncha buffalo bikers, didn’t do nada wrong. The last thing their leader/last surviving member said before being horribly murdered was “we had a deal!”. The only bad “bad guys” were possibly the guys in spikey cars.

Anywho, toward the end of the movie, it really felt like watching a movie where the villains were winning and destined to win. But NOT in a cool way. NOT in a way where it’s satisfying in a anti-establishment/contrarian kind of way. It was just plain uncomfortable, despite all the awesome action going on, because it felt… “wrong”. Like innocent people being killed and abused because they were the wrong religion and everyone else is supposed to cheer for that injustice.

It’s made all the worst when it’s revealed that the “good guys” had this old lady on their side, and she’s been trying to grow plants using a buncha seeds she’s kept for god knows how many years, but none of the seeds were taking hold because the soil was too corrupted. Meanwhile, at the base of the Warlords, it turns out that over the years, Joe had managed to develop a system for drilling out plenty of water from under the ground. This is the water he RATIONS in order to “control” a population or USELESS MOOCHERS. Joe FEEDS them. Not with roaches like in Snowpiercer. But with actual VEGETATION that he grows through HYDROPONICS. Thereby eliminating the dependency on an unusable soil. Joe’s been using SCIENCE and good management of resources to provide for what appears to be a nigh useless population whose only contribution is to make short lived babies (kids are implied to die by their 20s due to all the radiation) who, to be fair, are only there to be laborers. HOWEVER, these laborers are not only provided for, they have fucking medical benefits!

Really, from the looks of it, the only problems are that Joe let his wives get too many antiquated ideas into their heads, such as personal freedom (without consequences), his saying that he “owns” his children (bear in mind that Joe has 2 sons, one’s implied to be a retard while the other’s deformed, and they’re both taken care of) and his wanting to create a non-mutant/deformed male heir who doesn’t have an inherently short life span. To do this, he uses basically a eugenics program. The “bad” thing is he wants to use his own genes/seed to make this work, which… well, he just wants a frickin’ heir. can’t blame an old guy for that.

This heir would have been well taken care of and grown up to inherit a kingdom.

You know who else fucked things up for everyone by not letting the “bad guy” have an heir? Susan Strong, from Adventure Time… err, okay, that’s a bit random, but if you watch Adventure Time, you’d know what I mean. *ahem*

So yeah, the last minutes of the movie we see society go right down the shitter as Furiosa and co. squander the bounty that Joe built up.

Oh, and you know why everybody seems to just call this movie Fury Road? Because Mad Max is barely in it. He does ONE exceptionally badass thing… and this is done off camera. Other than that, he’s just a tertiary character, behind Furiosa and Nux and even behind some of the wives.

Fury Road’s an awesome movie. But you really have to be thickheaded in order to enjoy it. As in, you have to stop your mind from questioning the plot. Because if you don’t focus on the awesomeness of this movie and force yourself to be UN-objective, then you’ll end up like me where I like the awesomeness of Fury Road but feel completely uncomfortable with how disturbingly WRONG the story is. In a way it’s realistic in that no one’s actually “evil”. Joe’s been implied to have done bad things but his contributions to society have been so significant, you kinda want to give him a pass. Hell… Furiosa, who was kidnapped when she was a kid (presumably by Joe), even grew up to be a highly well respected nobility of their society. Which meant that his was a society based on fucking merit.

Anyways, I’d best end this. Yeah, if you’ve read this, then you probably already saw Fury Road, since I DID say this was gonna have spoilers. And I think you’d agreed with me that it’s an awesome movie. Just… abandon any sense of justice as you watch this movie.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Nathan permalink
    July 27, 2015 8:01 PM

    Ah, so I imagined Joe kidnapping people to steal their blood and kidnapping children to turn into soldiers and brainwashing those kids into fanatic killers who worship him as a god and encouraging said literally-named-Warboys to kill themselves after spraypainting their teeth (which is not good dental practice) and sacrificing dozens of his own men to get his unwilling harem back just to put TOOTHED CHASTITY BELTS on them and having an antagonistic relationship with all his neighbors and having a water-sharing plan even shittier than California’s right now and utilizing slave labor and those were PEOPLE, not moochers, who were presumably fed as well as they were watered and also presumably the People Eater EATS PEOPLE.

    You’ve convinced me. Immortan Joe was secretly the good guy.

    • July 27, 2015 8:18 PM

      He’s not necessarily a nice guy but he also wasn’t necessarily evil either.

      He may have had his personal flaws but we’re talking about his contributions on the whole with the consideration that the world they’re living in is a radioactive wasteland where might makes right.

      You gotta take the setting into consideration. If this were a pre-apocalyptic world, then Joe’s activities would be akin to that of Jim Jones, i.e. despicable. But in a post-apocalyptic setting, it’s a necessary evil. And his contributions are enormous when you take the setting into account.

      But hey, if you were able to enjoy the film without poking holes in the logic, then more power to ya. It’s an awesome movie.

      • Nathan permalink
        July 28, 2015 3:00 PM

        I can see the point you’re arguing for, but I think you’re greatly overestimating Immortan Joe’s contributions. He’s not any better than your average wasteland bandit tribe, just more powerful. To see that, we don’t have to consider the post-apocalyptic setting in general; there are in-universe examples, chief among them Bartertown. Aunty Entity is a ruthless leader who is bad by our standards. Nevertheless, she is holding a civilization together and offering a stable and improved life to her subjects. In contrast, the only thing Immortan Joe has over the typical wasteland bandit tribe is that he can “support” (read: starve and parch) more people with his aquifer well. The only people seen getting medical treatment and that seem to have enough water and food are his warriors. The rest are effectively slaves.

        Immortan Joe did create the aquifer well, and whatever his intentions that’s a good thing, but it’s not enough of a contribution to outweigh his faults. In his hands that tribe was going nowhere. Look at it this way: what will the quality of life be in each group, assuming no major disasters, after a few decades? Bartertown’s QoL will probably improve. Your average wasteland bandits will probably remain the same. Immortan Joe’s tribe will also remain the same (or even get worse, if his children become fanatics like his warriors). There’s only one way for Joe’s tribe to improve – he and his line had to be overthrown

        And hey, that happened. His tribe was taken over by Furiosa and his wives, whose stated goal is to bring back the “green place”. What will the tribe’s quality of life be in a few decades if they succeed?

        • July 28, 2015 11:40 PM

          You really can’t ignore the setting in this case. Bartertown and Fury Road’s situation are as far as we can observe, quite different.

          Barter Town’s a center of commerce. So yes, it has the potential to grow and prosper since it has an import/export economy. It’s the equivalent of Singapore. It has one primary resource, pig powered electricity, and this resource is renewable so long as people come in to trade, and people will come in to trade as long as there is electricity. Master Blaster’s embargoes disrupted that flow.

          As far as we can tell from Fury Road’s setting, the land’s even more barren than in Barter Town. The Green Place has gone sour and Max & Co. are pretty certain there’s not much to be found even after half a year of traveling (or until there’s a sequel).

          In this kind of situation, rationing is a reasonable course of action. The situation we’ve got is a ruling class who live lives of relative plenty while the majority are left to eek by. The majority are controlled by the scraps the ruling class toss them. Assuming nothing changes, they could stretch this way of living for… oh, let’s just arbitrarily say it’ll last them a hundred years. After that, who knows? Perhaps Joe’s descendants will have to hole up in the mountain while the savages beat on their door. It all depends on how much water is there. Is it a finite amount or is there an ocean that can sustain a static population for a thousand years? In which case, it’ll be the “food cap” that’s the main issue.

          Now that Furiosa’s in charged and just giving everything away willy nilly, how long’s the limited resources gonna last? Few decades? Furiosa’s group haven’t demonstrated the know-how to create a sustainable agricultural system. They apparently had a land of plenty but weren’t able to save it due to lack of knowledge. All we’ve seen is them planting seeds in the ground and hoping for the best.

          One mountain can only produce so much food. Again, it’s the “food cap”. Only so much can be taken out of the system. If everyone’s eating their fill, the mountain won’t be able to produce enough to offset the expense.

          In an ideal world, Joe would have spread the knowledge and given out packets of resources for the purpose of increasing food production. But having set up his empire, he didn’t suddenly become idealistic. Choosing to hoard whatever he could. He’s not a “nice” guy. He’s not even a “good” guy. But was he really a “bad” guy?

          Let’s say Furiosa got Joe’s son to teach them the secrets of hydroponics. And let’s say there is enough water to sustain a growing population and to turn the entire region into a hydroponic paradise indefinitely.

          Furiosa’s still gonna have to eventually start rationing the existing food supply until she consolidates her power. She’s going to have to create an army to take control of Gas Town and Bullet Town and to protect themselves from outside aggressors. And to control a population now angry with her for suddenly cutting off their food supply, she’ll need some way to either control or appease them. Which means, she’ll need to cut off their water unless they agree to her demands. She can’t cut off their food because she can’t “reward” them with extra food when they behave.

          In other words, Furiosa’s gonna have to become Joe. And once she finally consolidates her power, THEN, she’ll be at the crossroads. Would she continue to hoard power and resources or would she remember that her goal is to spread the knowledge and of hydroponics and give out the water necessary to enable it?

          It ain’t about arguing with ya on whether someone is “evil” or not. It’s not a matter of whether Joe’s just a regular bandit despot or not. The good thing about Fury Road is that if one thinks about it, no one’s really out and out evil. Maybe the leader of Bullet Town was kind of a dick though.

          I don’t dislike the movie, which is a point I keep making. But let’s face it, the “bad guys” didn’t really do anything wrong in the situation they’re in. We the audience, merely assume. We suspend our disbelief and enjoy the awesomeness. But the little details don’t add up once we start analyzing it. We see far more camaraderie on the bad guy side than the good guy side. We see more honor among the fodder than the good guys. To be fair, the good guys weren’t being “bad” either. They behaved as they did because they were desperate.

          You mentioned in your first comment that Joe sacrificed his men to retrieve his brides… did he though? He sent his men to retrieve his brides, and his men were killed in action. He didn’t “sacrifice” his men, he “lost” them. Had he told a bunch of his fanatics to lie on the road so he could run over their corpses in order to climb over a hill, then that would be sacrifice.

          All I’m saying in the original post is, the “bad guys” got screwed over and that’s kinda uncomfortable to me. Or rather, I just felt uncomfortable that we’re supposed to root for the “good guys” because I just couldn’t help seeing that the majority of the “bad guys” were behaving less despicably than your standard movie baddie.

  2. preytorsanime permalink
    July 28, 2015 5:35 AM

    I thought that Mad Max was freaking amazing and I loved that movie but I have to agree that the “good guys” were far from good and Joe even though he had some quirks,was a really good guy that saved tons of people and managed to create a functional society in a post apocalyptic world.But to be honest I didn’t really care about it.You can call me a thickhead but I don’t care whether the heroes of a movie are good or not even if it is presented in a non cool way.I am just like that.I don’t care about the ethics of a film/series as long as it is fun.

    • July 28, 2015 6:52 AM

      Cool. Again, I’m not hating on the movie, I think it’s great. I just happened to not have been able to ignore that aspect. But it didn’t make me not like the movie.

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