wandering in search of our better selves


I really, really loved Mad Max, and I really love hearing Mikey’s thoughts on films. So lucky me: he did a Movies with Mikey on Fury Road. 

“It’s almost comical at this point that the bad guy in this film is a repugnant liar toting the virtues of subjugating females into archaic gender roles and sending the war boys after anyone that doesn’t agree.”

I think that I’m going to memorize this and any time someone says “Oh, Mad Max was a feminist movie?” 

“The second we don’t allow our art to challenge us and our beliefs is when we cease to be human”

This, to me, is really critical. Obviously when it comes to sexism, there’s a right side of history to be on. It can be exhausting, disgusting, and even damaging to engage in any way with “the other side.” But we must still allow our beliefs to be challenged; it would not threaten them, but strengthen them. And if it doesn’t, the beliefs were not as sound as we had believed.

“Unlike practically every film ever made, instead of putting [the quote] at the front, he chose to put his quote at the end. Punctuating all that came before it. Where must we go, we who wander the wasteland in search of our better selves. Which better selves do you think to which he is referring?”

And most importantly: 

Maybe that one thing this film is about is being a good ally. Because sometimes it isn’t our fight and sometimes we need to give too much of ourselves for no other reason than to stand up with those that need us to. And that’s way harder when it’s a losing fight you know you’re going into…

… and yet you fight. You fight because there’s a better world on the other side of it.

What Mad Max: Fury Road Means to Me: Validation

It’s no big secret that I really like Mad Max: Fury Road. I mean, I own it. And what’s not to love? Explosions, chase scenes, cool cars, kickass female characters!, great message. It’s tons of fun! And while I could talk about lots of things that I love about the movie, I’m gonna focus on the one I think means the most to me.

Or rauther, she’s a women (because We Are Not Things). A minor character, but you know her: Miss Giddy.

This is her. She’s the Wives’ teacher and basically their mother figure. We first see her in the Vault when Immortan Joe is looking for them; she’s the one with the shotgun who was like “She didn’t take them, they begged her to go!” and it was epic.

You may notice something about Miss Giddy. She’s tattooed. Pretty heavily, in fact. With words. (She even wears what I can only imagine is a tattoo pen in her hair.) This is because she is a “History Man,” or in this case, a History Woman. Well, she’s a precursor to the History Men and Women. Their appearance and role is pretty self-explanatory. They tattoo themselves as means of remembering the past (becoming “wordburgers”). They are historians.

“When the world fell they burned the books, leaving nothing but a random collection of Wordburgers. We History Men and Women preserve these stories.” 

– History Man

Yeah, neat piece of worldbuilding, cool way to integrate the idea of learning into this heathanistic world, whatever. Well no. See, I want to become a historian. I love history and can easily see myself dedicating my life to it. But the amount of times I’ve had a crisis about my place in the world if I do become a historian… often times I feel nothing I could say would be valued.

See, I unabashedly love police procedural shows, and action movies, and the like. Often they have a nerdy character or two, and I tend to identify with them. Problem is, these characters are almost always science/math types. I am not a science or math type, so I kinda saw myself as not being useful in these cool crime-fighting, ass-kicking settings. No, seriously! For a time I doubted trying to become a historian because, well, what purpose can they have if no one ever talks about them? (I was so foolish.)

But Miss Giddy helped changed that. She’s a historian in a world with cool cars and action sequences, and she has a place. She is important to the society. And she’s a historian. We all know the importance of representation in media, and here we have a historian being represented and I’m being told “I can have a place in the world. The world needs me and will always need me.” If someone asks me if I can name any cool historians in media, I can say “Yeah! Miss Giddy!” and they’ll say “Who?” But that doesn’t matter. Cos she’s there and she’s important and she’s a historian and I am validated. 

So (not that anyone will ever see this) I want to extend my deepest thanks to George Miller and his creative team for History People, and Jennifer Hagan for bringing her so wonderfully to life. You probably thought it was a kinda benign piece of world-building and a good framing device for stories (and I can’t argue that), but you really helped validate my love. And you did that in a kick-ass, most Oscars of 2015, with amazing female characters, action movie. Seriously, you all rock harder than Coma-Doof Warrior.

“Where must we go… we who wander this wasteland in search of our better selves?”

– The First History Man