Teaching my daughter about female empowerment trumped my concern about violence.
When I first started seeing the previews for Mad Max: Fury Road, I was excited. I'm old enough to remember the original movies (even though I was only 11 when the first Mad Max came out), and think of them quite fondly (even though Mel Gibson's movie canon has been retroactively destroyed by his general assh*le-ness. I miss loving you, Braveheart).
The first time my daughter saw the preview, she also got excited and asked if she could see the movie. I told her no; it was rated R, and while I'm a pretty liberal mom, I wasn't quite sure she was ready for an R-rated movie.
But after seeing it with my husband, I changed my mind. I realized that seeing the movie was a great idea for a nine-year-old girl — and not just to spit in the eyes of the Men's Right Activists who are whining about it being a movie "with too many girls that weren’t there for f*cking."
I wanted her to see it because it kicks ass, and that ass-kicking is done by a huge variety of women, plus these six other reasons:
Disclaimer: Major spoilers below.
1. A woman works to save other women.
Charlize Theron's character of Imperator Furiosa is one of the most amazing women I've seen on screen, ever. There are a precious few women like her in movies: strong, powerful, smart, and defender of those that need defending.
The small handful of movies featuring women like Furiosa aren't currently available on the big screen. Furiosa is also rescuing women; she is determined to take these women from the horror of sexual slavery and offer them freedom.
2. Gratuitous sexual violence is completely absent.
Instead of stirring our hearts with a scene showing Immortan Joe raping one of his wives, the movie implies, rather than overtly displays, violence and subjugation of women. It was implied off-screen and obtusely enough that my daughter and I were able to discuss it in a way that didn’t frighten or overwhelm her.
Brutality against girls and women is a real thing that happens every day and she needs to be aware of it. After all, it doesn't just happen in the movies.
3. Older women have roles as action stars.
If my daughter were to base her ideas of being an older woman on Hollywood movies she'd pretty much need to use her imagination or plan to be a only a grandmother or one of those weirdly sexually inappropriate old ladies who writers stick in comedies.
For the first time, my daughter was able to see women her grandmother's age and older being vital and alive, and shooting down the bad guys (while on motorcycles, no less). It was a powerful statement that I know will stay in her mind.
4. A male character is an ally, not a romantic interest.
Mad Max's character evolves from prisoner of Immortal Joe, to a threat to Furiosa and the other women, to eventually becoming a supporter. Interestingly, my daughter began making a heart with her hands over Max and Furiosa's scenes.
Even at her young age she's been trained to believe all men and women who work together toward a common goal eventually fall in love. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is that in this movie, they do not.
5. Men don't do the rescuing.
Max isn't interested in helping the women initially, but when he does become their ally, he's there to help, not take over. He defers to Furiosa when it's best.
There's a small moment in the movie where he turns the big gun with the last bullet over to Furiosa because she's a better shot. Frankly, it's stunning. I've never once seen that in a movie.
6. There is real action with minimal special effects.
My daughter has a passion for effects and movie making, and she's only seen movies that are jampacked with CGI. We talked in advance extensively about the fact that very little in Fury Road is CGI, and that many of the actors did their own stunts — including the older women.
Throughout the movie, she quizzed me about the explosions and stunts, and it was great fun trying to pick out the CGI from the real action.
I'm so happy I took her. There were a few moments I told her she should look away (the c-section scene in particular, and a few others), but she was fine with the movie overall.
I'm not saying all girls her age should see the movie; some kids might be too sensitive. But for an R-rated movie there, is no nudity, no swearing, and little blood (surprisingly). There are, however, a ton of explosions, people in danger, and flying bodies.
In my opinion, the violence is actually on quite on par with movies like The Avengers.
I'll also toss in a pitch for sending your boys to see this movie: Boys need to see women doing all that cool stuff, too.
So, go if you think your child can handle it, even though it's rated R. And spring for the 3-D version, too. It's worth it.