E33 -

Kat Murti & Lester Romero join the show to discuss the cultural significance of Mad Max: Fury Road.

Hosts
Landry Ayres
Senior Producer
Guests

Kat Murti is co‐​founder and executive director of Feminists for Liberty. She is also senior digital outreach manager for the Cato Institute and communications director/D.C. chapter leader for the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA). Murti also serves on the boards of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the White Coat Waste Project and previously worked at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She grew up between North Texas and South India, got a political science degree at the University of California at Berkeley, and now lives and works in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @KatMurti or get in touch at kat@ fem​i​nists​for​lib​er​ty​.com.

Lester Romero is the Senior Video Editor at the Cato Institute.

Summary:

In a post‐​apocalyptic wasteland, Furiosa rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search for her lost homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max. This movie has been hailed as the ultimate feminist action movie, but does it deserve that accreditation? Kat Murti & Lester Romero help us unpack all of the action we witnessed on the Fury Road.

Transcript

[music]

0:00:03.3 Natalie Dowzicky: Welcome to Pop & Locke. I’m Natalie Dowzicky.

0:00:05.8 Landry Ayre: And I’m Landry Ayres.

0:00:07.7 Natalie Dowzicky: For 30 years, George Miller thought he had done everything he could to Mad Max, but boy are we glad that he didn’t throw in the towel. In 2015, Mad Max Fury Road shattered expectations for action filmmaking. Practically every frame left me asking, “How in the heck did they do that and how did no one die while filming this?” Here to discuss Furiosa and her badass journey on the Fury Road is the executive director of Feminists for Liberty Kat Murti.

0:00:33.3 Kat Murti: Hey, thanks for having me.

0:00:34.9 Natalie Dowzicky: And the Cato Institute’s own Senior Video Editor Lester Romero.

0:00:38.7 Lester Romero: Hello, thank you for having me.

0:00:40.6 Landry Ayre: Lester, Kat, Natalie, when Fury Road was released, everyone was kind of up in arms asking and talking about like, is this movie feminist? Is it the feminist action movie that we’ve been waiting for, and we’ve run into similar issues on this show when we’ve sort of pondered is this movie libertarian? And we’ve kind of realized that while a lot of them have themes that lend themselves to either libertarianism or feminism or anything like that, movies that come out entirely ideologically pure, aren’t really as interesting. They just become kind of propaganda at that moment, which isn’t really as fun to consume or interesting. So I guess a better question to start this conversation about Mad Max Fury Road would be, where does the movie succeed in its use of feminist themes? And where does it fall short?

0:01:40.9 Kat Murti: Yeah, so I think the first part of this… All movies, I think if you’re trying to think of them as feminist or not, it’s worthwhile to look at the Bechdel Miller test. So that basically says that in order for a movie to be a feminist movie, and this isn’t all it comprising, this is sort of just like that first step, you need to have at least two female characters, which we saw, they have to all have names, which again, we saw although they don’t really use the names that much, but they do have names, and they have to talk to each other about something that was not a man. And so surprisingly, despite the lack of dialogue in this film, it does pass the Bechdel Miller test, and then of course… So it’s got that ground level in there. Then you know, I went into this movie, I’d heard all of the stuff about how it’s a super feminist movie, we had all the MRAs that were boycotting it because it was too feminist or feminist propaganda or whatever. So I go into this and then the first time that you see this introduction of the wives, you see this… Or who are really the wives, the breeders, whatever you wanna call them, it’s this really film‐​tropey scene where they’re essentially lingerie models.

0:02:58.0 Kat Murti: In fact, a couple of them actually are lingerie models, and they’re wearing this flimsy white muslin that doesn’t make any sense to be wearing in the desert and they’re being watered down with a hose, which is not feminist imagery. I basically rolled my eyes at that. And then I started thinking, this actually subverts the cliche because these are sex slaves, they didn’t choose those clothes for themselves, they didn’t wanna wear that stuff, and this is actually their first moment of freedom. They’ve never got a chance to do any of these stuff before. It’s not surprising, they look like lingerie models because they were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by Immortan Joe, probably for that reason. And so their first… They used their first moment of freedom for water, to get water, which is this precious resource and to cut off their chastity belts. And sort of as you go through the movie, they start to put on more clothing and things like that, and you see the free women in the movie, or even women like Furiosa who’s not really free, but sort of free, freer in a different sense, she’s dressed differently, so I think that really flipped it on its head for me.

0:04:06.1 Landry Ayre: Yeah, it’s interesting for me that they cut off their chastity belts that aren’t just like chastity belts, but they’re to me highly stylized, to look as if they’re bondage gear.

0:04:16.0 Kat Murti: If anything is just another visual symbolism that you see throughout the film. There’s very little dialogue, it’s all visual symbolism.

0:04:24.0 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, and I also thought that scene was kind of powerful to juxtapose against when they met the older women from Furiosa’s original tribe, and it was interesting because by the time, later in the movie, we had gotten more of the different personalities of the original wives and their relationships with each other, and then we got to kind of see them interact with women who… I’m assuming they had been free their whole lives or relatively, and them interacting with the older women was kind of like this… Like a full circle effect. You could see how some of the wives could be… Could be some of those older women have they had the freedom and opportunities to fight for themselves as these… Basically, what I see as old‐​biker chicks, [chuckle] which is one of the themes they were going for.

0:05:25.4 Natalie Dowzicky: But you had brought up Furiosa, Kat, and I think you had put some interesting notes about her character in preparing for this, and I kinda wanted to talk about her more, ’cause as I was watching, I was incredibly curious why we didn’t get a background, as much background of her as we got of Mad Max, and I think it’s interesting because to me, Furiosa is, I believe has the most dialogue in the film, and she’s the most interesting character but there’s also this mystery around her because you’re not entirely sure of her background or how she came to be in this position, or how she even came to think like, “Oh, I have to free the sex slaves.” So what do we think of her backstory and what, how do we place her in this story to begin with?

0:06:21.1 Kat Murti: Yeah, so the Citadel is this very clearly regimented gender stereotyped society. And the women… The women who are not the peasant women, who you see sort of begging for water and food from the Citadel, all the rest of those women, they are breeders. They are… I guess you would call them milkmaids. I’m not even sure what they’re called. The men are all soldiers or sons, who are basically also soldiers, and Furiosa is the one difference here. Not only is she one of the War Boys, she’s one of their commanders. And so, I was so curious about how this happened, because the movie doesn’t explain it at all. Basically, all we’ve got is that we know that she was kidnapped about 19 years ago, and that’s how she came here, and we know that she’s on a quest for redemption, and that she did all of this because Splendid, one of the wives, had plotted this and reached out to her for help. And so I went digging and I found a Charlize Theron, who is the actress who plays Furiosa, reveals in an interview that she had tried to figure this out herself and discussed it with Miller, the director, and he explained Furiosa’s character in a way that I think makes a lot of sense.

0:07:48.0 Kat Murti: It’s not on screen, but it just fills in all of those blanks for you. He saw Furiosa as a young girl who was kidnapped in order to be one of Immortan Joe’s wives, but then when it turned out that she was infertile and wasn’t able to bear children, she was sort of abandoned, and she kind of snuck in with all of these young boy War Pigs, grew up alongside of them, and then proved herself to be a very capable soldier, and that’s how she sort of rises in the ranks as the only female that we see in that kind of role, which is fascinating because you also have to realize that this whole movie only… The only reason that she was able to get there, the only reason that she’s in that role is because she was infertile, which is sort of… To go back to our earlier conversation, is sort of one of the less‐​feminist points or maybe it’s a feminist point. I don’t know. That’s one of those things where you’re not quite sure whether or not it’s feminist. Kind of like Landry was saying, it’s not clearly ideological. It’s more realistic.

0:08:54.1 Natalie Dowzicky: And I also thought it was interesting with her… When you were reading, did you find anything about her arm?

0:09:00.0 Kat Murti: So, I didn’t see that, but I thought it was actually interesting, because you see her towards… This is gonna be a spoiler. Hopefully everyone’s watched the movie, [chuckle] but…

0:09:10.4 Natalie Dowzicky: I think everyone’s watched it at this point. [laughter]

0:09:12.9 Kat Murti: They’ve had a little time. So Furiosa’s the one who murders Immortan Joe, who’s basically the slave Lord who’s enslaved most of the characters we see on screen, and she does it by ripping off his mask. That’s this metallic breathing mask that is attached to his face, and she does it with her arm hooking to it, and then, releasing her prosthetic arm, goes out the window, rips off his mask and with it takes his face, which I think is just like… This is a whole different trope in there, but it sort of… It does tie back because you see this idea at the beginning of the movie that there’s this dichotomy between this patriarchal Citadel, and then there is this matriarchy that they’re trying to escape to, the Green Place where everything’s perfect, nothing’s bad. And then, over the course of the film, they realize that that also doesn’t actually exist. It’s sort of this utopian idea, and they actually do need to rely upon a lot of the same technology, a lot of the things like guzzoline, their War Rig that they’re using to get away in that’s powered with Mother’s Milk, guzzoline, and water, just like the Citadel is. It’s more about how those things are controlled. And so I sort of saw that more as just the difference between the technology being used by Immortan Joe versus how the technology was used by Furiosa.

[music]

0:10:44.6 Landry Ayre: Another thing that this movie was really acclaimed for was effects and the editing that went into this. The fact that there is almost no dialogue. It is a heavily, heavily visual film. Even for a medium that is visual in nature, it takes full use of that and issues dialogue in order to tell the story via world‐​building and an environment. Even the dialogue that is there is very buried in the mix. Like, I got way more out of watching it this time when I watched it with subtitles and caught all these words and names for things that I never would have got when I saw it in the theater.

0:11:27.8 Lester Romero: I did the same thing a couple of nights ago. I watched it with the subtitles on, and I’m like, “Oh, I could actually hear what they’re saying. I actually know what their names are.” Because, sometimes, I didn’t know what some of their names were, ’cause the sound mixing with the background music, and the action, and the clanging, and the hitting, and it all kind of blurred together. So having my big, large subtitles on my screen, it was helpful.

0:12:00.6 Kat Murti: No, I was gonna say: I’m definitely a “Quippy dialogue” kind of film person. I tend to tune out whenever people stop talking, but this was one of the few movies where, for the most part, I was just glued to the screen because of all these really cool visual effects throughout and just the fun stuff that they’re doing with film speed and all sorts of cool things. And if you’re not watching, you don’t know what happens, because it’s literally all just in… It’s a “Show, not‐​tell movie.”

0:12:29.4 Lester Romero: And nothing is explained, either. Things just happen, and you just absorb the world as it’s shown to you. The Green Place that they travel to as this safe haven, ideal place to finally rest, you find out it was… The soil, everything was destroyed by these crow‐​like creatures that you only see for a few seconds as you’re driving through the night, and you find out, “Oh, those things that we saw are what destroyed the soil, so they couldn’t plant anything.” And it just kind of ruined and just crashed Furiosa’s world for a bit.

0:13:08.8 Kat Murti: So, at the beginning of this movie, you sort of get plunged into the patriarchy of the Citadel run by Immortan Joe, and there’s these very rigid gender stereotypes between… There’s the women who are the breeders, or literally the Mother’s Milk sources, and then there’s the men, there’s the War Boys, and there’s this big hero worship of Immortan Joe as this alpha male warlord. So you kind of get this split here, so Splendid, who’s the wife that we find out actually thought up and engineered this whole escape, she had both written on the walls of the vault where the wives were locked up as sex slaves, “Who killed the world?” And she says it to Nux, who’s the War Boy who ends up allying himself with them throughout the course of the movie, as she’s throwing him off the War Rig. So there’s this idea that this is all the fault of the men. And then, to contrast with that, there’s this imagined matriarchy of this perfect Green Place where there’s a stereotype of women who are these sort of peaceful, fertile mother‐​goddess types.

0:14:16.2 Kat Murti: And then we find out that that’s not true. First off, the Green Place doesn’t actually exist. It hasn’t existed for who knows how long. It’s all dead now, and these stereotypes themselves don’t exist. The War Rig that they’re escaping on, it runs on guzzoline, Mother’s Milk. And they use bullets, just the same as the War Boys do. They realize that they have to actually turn around and go back to the Citadel and just manage it better to build this better world. They can’t actually just go to this imagined better world. And there’s just this great scene here, too, where the Dag, who’s one of the wives, says to the seed keeper, who’s one of the women from Furiosa’s tribe, the Vuvalini of Many Mothers, which itself is sort of this matriarchal trope… But she’s talking to her, and the seed keeper is the woman, older woman, she’s got a bagful of seedlings and seeds that she’s keeping for whenever they can eventually plant again, and she’s telling the Dag about her kill count and how great of a shot she is, and the Dag looks at her and says, “Somehow, I thought you girls were all above that,” because she really saw it as the women were different from the men, and in fact, what we find out is that the women and the men, they’re all just people.

0:15:36.8 Kat Murti: And so, I think that was just this really interesting shift in the movie. And that’s sort of also when we turn around and go back to the Citadel and all of that. And it’s just there’s this theme of female strength throughout the movie. So Furiosa, the Vuvalini of Many Mothers, they’re not fighting on brute strength. They don’t have the same brute strength as some of the male warriors, or even Max, but they’re just as capable. Furiosa’s actually a better shot than Max. Or Splendid, she’s using her heavily‐​pregnant body as the human shield, so that they can get away. We see just so many depictions of this where it’s like, “Actually, they have the same kinds of strength, it’s just different.”

0:16:22.9 Kat Murti: So I thought that was really interesting. Charlize Theron, who’s, again, the Furiosa actress, she talked about one of her frustrations when she was doing interviews about the movie was that she kept hearing from people, “Oh, what strong women,” and she said, “No, we’re actually just women. We just had a filmmaker who understood that the truth is that women are powerful enough, and that we don’t want to be made supernaturally strong and capable of doing things we’re not capable of doing.” And that’s sort of the theme: Everyone here is just a human, it’s just, they’re a human acting within the confines of the world that they’ve been forced into.

0:17:00.4 Lester Romero: To touch upon something Kat mentioned about the Green Place and the stereotypes, it’s funny how… Interesting how that was tied into the… It wasn’t talked about brief… It was mentioned briefly about hope, and, basically, when Max says like, “Unless you go back and fix what’s wrong, you’ll go mad.” And the thing about Mad Max is that he, himself, is damaged beyond belief. We see a lot of flashbacks of things that traumatized him through the movie from the very beginning of the movie, and yet those weren’t in any of the prior movies. So we’re basically seeing… We know Max, how he operates. He just drifts from place to place, adventure to adventure, some that we’ve never seen, and the trauma of things that we’ve never seen before still haunt him.

0:17:56.3 Lester Romero: And towards the end, he mentions… I guess he ties it back together with a prior conversation with Furiosa about finding redemption. That’s basically when they both decide… Well, after another brief moment of a flashback trauma he has with this little girl that constantly keeps flashing into his mind… That’s when he basically… I guess it’s guilt, because apparently he failed to save someone before, a group of people or a family or whoever, and chose this moment as this chance to redeem himself, but also to help Furiosa find her redemption, which is what she was looking for. ‘Cause who knows what she’s done over the many years working for Joe as a slave, basically, but still doing things against her will constantly, that she needs to find redemption for herself.

0:18:50.0 Kat Murti: Right. I thought the redemption point was really interesting because when she first says to Max that she’s looking for redemption. Just watching the film, I was like, “Why? What does she need redemption for?” And then it sort of fills in, especially when you find out that she was kidnapped from the Vuvalini 19 years ago or so, probably more, that her mother was also kidnapped and died three years into it, and that… And then you start thinking about the fact that she’s a War Boy, she’s very much part of… She’s part of this whole structure of enslavement, of murder, of kidnapping, all these awful things, and it’s something that she’s had to do to survive. And so that’s what she’s getting redemption for. And so I just… I found that fascinating, that even though it’s all this trauma and it’s all this stuff that she never wanted to do, that she probably wouldn’t have done in other circumstances in a different world, she still feels that need for redemption, and she gets it through helping these other women who were probably also equally kidnapped and try… And were more forced into sex slavery, that she was at first and didn’t end up working out. It was so poignant, particularly once I started to reflect on it more.

0:20:08.9 Natalie Dowzicky: At some point, I’m pretty sure Max says… Doesn’t he say like, “Hope is a mistake?” And it’s one of his very few lines, obviously, as we’ve been saying. And I think that whole discussion about redemption and how short it was actually made it more poignant, if that makes sense. Because of the so few words in… Throughout… In the dialogue throughout the movie, I felt like every dialogue or conversation that was included was even that much more powerful and that much more important for you to pay attention to. [chuckle] I believe at one point he did say, “Hope is a mistake,” and that’s kind of why… I guess that’s just kind of his outlook on life, ’cause he tried to escape, at least once that we saw, and kind of got a glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel and then never actually made it out and never escaped. But his whole character is very interesting to me, so I’m thinking we’ll probably talk more about him too.

0:21:05.2 Kat Murti: Yeah, I think that that hope is a mistake thing, it’s actually interesting that he says that. Because in the very first… Maybe it’s not the very first. One of the very first lines of the movie is him also talking about how it’s all… He lives for survival, and he can’t be tied to any other people and stuff like that. And then he sort of begrudgingly gets tied to the War Rig and Furiosa and the wives, because they’re the only way that he can get off this metal mask on his face, get off these chains, all of that. And then throughout their sort of adventure, if you can call it that, their escape, their fight, whatever you wanna call it, I think he actually does start to see more hope. And I think that… The central message there is that that hope is necessary for their survival. Without that hope, they would have stopped at so many times, there has to be some hope that there is a possibility to survive to get past that. And that sort of… This redemption arc that you see for both Max, and honestly even Nux, the War Boy who ends up getting tied up with him, they both kind of learn about this hope, and they get that hope from their interactions with this revolutionary war party or whatever you wanna call them.

0:22:23.9 Landry Ayre: They also learn to sort of accept different parts of themselves, ones that are more about healing or helping others and aren’t simply about pursuing war. Like originally Nux’s desires are all about riding into Valhalla with glory, shiny and chrome and being witnessed. And I caught this for the first time, it’s Max from the very beginning, you see him, he’s peeing outside in the first shots, you see him from behind using the restroom. And then the lizard crawls up behind him, and he stomps it with his boot and eats it, and then is immediately being chased in what is literally in the text of the Mad Max universe is called a Hunt, where a bunch of people are hunting down another vehicle, and they’re trying to capture him. And then he is put and used like livestock. He is… He becomes a blood bag, and they harvest him, and they almost… Like how they use women as a resource, and they milk them, and they treat them like cows, literally, they do the same thing for Mad Max with his blood. And they put that mask on him, and they strap him to the front of the car, and they put the chain around his neck.

0:23:37.7 Landry Ayre: And he’s not only filling Nux with blood, there’s that awesome, very creative sort of confusing fight scene when they’ve just gone through the storm where he’s still chained up to Nux, and it’s like he’s on a leash. And so he’s trying to get Furiosa, and Nux is trying to help him, because he knows they need to keep him alive and everything. You have Max, and when he realizes that he has to trust these women and what their goal is, they finally give him the chisel so that he can remove his mask. And when he finally breaks the back piece of it, there is this beat in the music of when his… This muzzle comes off of him. And he suddenly… That, I think, creates a very big turning point in the movie where he suddenly starts speaking to them a lot more. I think up until that point, he maybe says three words to them, he just says like… Yeah, he says, “Water,” and, “Move,” or, “Her,” or something, it’s still sparse dialogue. But he does start actually speaking to them and offering insights, as nihilistic as they are, with, “Hope is a mistake,” etcetera. It is that abandonment of his bestial nature that is the sort of starting point of his redemption.

0:25:01.0 Kat Murti: I think you’re hitting on something that I thought was just really fascinating about the film too, it’s the sort of… This film is all about duality and different sides of the same thing. And I think one of the things that was really interesting to me is how they depict basically all of the main characters that we see are using the symbols of their oppression. They reclaim them at some point in the film. And so in Max’s case, at the beginning of the movie, he’s a blood bag, and so his big thing at the beginning, he’s escaping from being a blood bag, and then his big redemption thing is when he uses the fact that he’s a universal donor, which is something that was literally tattooed on his back against his will to save Furiosa.

0:25:41.8 Kat Murti: You see Furiosa who is getting redemption from the fact that she was a rejected sex slave who then grows up as a War Boy, and through that is able to get to freedom. Her redemption is then helping these sex slaves escape using the tools of being that. You see Nux, who goes into the movie, at the beginning of the movie, is brought into this Valhalla and is going to essentially suicide bomb in the protection of Immortan Joe. He chooses to do it after he’s kind of moved past this idea of Valhalla in order to save these people, this mission that he’s sort of chosen for himself. You see Splendid who uses Immortan Joe’s baby, who’s really her rapist’s baby that she’s carrying, in order to help promote this revolution that she’s spearheaded, she’s the brains behind, in order to help that escape happen.

0:26:38.9 Kat Murti: It’s just throughout the movie, you see this sort of over and over and over again. Even at the end of the movie, you see the women who you saw at the beginning who were being milked on these milking machines, they break free of it and they open the water for the peasants who are underneath, which I think is also sort of the symbolic duality that you see. That was, I think, one of the most interesting, deepest moments for me. All of these things they have I guess you could say awful uses, awful purposes, etcetera, and then they also have this very like… When the characters are able to own that for themselves, when they’re able to make those decisions on their own for their own reasons, it’s a very redemptive and hopeful theme as well, even though it’s the same thing we’re looking at.

0:27:25.3 Lester Romero: If there’s one thing I’d like to mention about Splendid very briefly is, even though she was the brains of the operation, to actually do it, it took a lot of physical violence basically, and yet she’s a bit of a pacifist, ’cause there are a couple of scenes where Furiosa was about to stab Nux in the throat with her blade that she had, that gear stick, and then Splendid was like, “No, don’t kill him. He’s just a pup. A kid.” So she saved his life there. There was another moment where during one of the attack sequences where they’re all being attacked, where Furiosa asked her to reload her weapon for her, and she couldn’t do it. It’s as if she didn’t want to. It’s as if it was against her core belief to harm anybody, even if indirectly, which is… And at that point, the other bride was the one who re‐​armed her shotgun, so I find that very interesting.

0:28:21.1 Kat Murti: And she’s not afraid of violence. I think that’s what’s clear too. She chooses not to engage in it, but she puts her body out there. She’s also when Max is there, when he first comes up with the gun and they don’t know that it doesn’t work, she’s the one who goes forward towards him. She gets shot in the leg a little bit later and she sort of sucks it up, so that’s actually a really interesting point too. It’s not that she’s frightened of violence. She believes in a world without it.

[music]

0:28:53.1 Landry Ayre: We have talked a lot about the ways in which we think that the feminism is portrayed, I think in a way that sort of subverts tropes and is rather hopeful, and we keep going back to that sort of the turning of hope itself, but I think there is a sad irony in the movie, in the fact that they have to return back from where they came. Obviously, that turn, when they realize that the green place, this matriarchal, utopian ideal that they’ve been striving for, that we’ve been hoping to get to the entire time, is a lost cause, it does not exist. And then you have to return from where you came and hopefully try to make it better. It’s very much a sort of mono‐​mythic return to home after defeating trials, etcetera scenario in that way, albeit much more streamlined. There’s also the idea that the tools that you have, even if you’re trying to subvert them, can they actually be used to correct the system that has created the problems that you’ve encountered? Will the violence that you have enacted and been a part of and had to use to survive like Furiosa has, will that be enough to allow them to have the society that they want without Immortan Joe be reborn?

0:30:22.6 Landry Ayre: And you don’t see that nearly as clearly when they get back. Like one of the main problems with The Citadel was Immortan Joe’s authoritarianism, but it was also the fact that he centrally controlled all the resources: Bullets from Bullet Farm, gas from Gas Town, the Citadel’s water supply. These are not separate outposts that are trading with each other. He holds a grip on them, and with this gang of thugs of the People Eater and everyone, he just sort of pools these resources and a small group of people just sort of dips into the coffers and uses them whenever they wish. So there’s no trade. The only other institution that we get from this movie is this hinted at cult of V8 and this pseudo church or at least set of religious beliefs that is heavily influenced by Norse myths of Valhalla and this idea of like a warrior heaven, but we don’t get other institutions. There is no social structure tying these people together because they are fighting for their basic survival and their base needs. I wonder if Furiosa is aware in the sad irony that by returning back and giving away all the water, are they going to be able to fix anything or are they just going to be able to make that survival slightly easier?

0:31:56.6 Kat Murti: Yeah, I don’t know, that’s actually… That was one of the things I was wondering, because the movie doesn’t really conclude. We see them going up, we don’t even know what’s gonna happen once they go up, there’s all of those War Boys. Yes, granted, these are still more children than the children that we see fight in the film. The War Boys we see fighting are probably in their teens and early 20s, for the most part. The War Boys that they left at home are the child soldiers, they’re like seven, nine, in that age range. So they’re maybe a little bit more malleable, but we don’t know what’s gonna happen, we don’t know if Furiosa even will be in control. And then once she is, as… Landry, as you point out, you still had the exact same problems with centrally‐​controlled resources. At the beginning, we see Immortan Joe release the water kind of as this populist way of controlling the people below, that he’s willing to give them this little bit of water, but in the worst possible resource management way, they’re just wasting it essentially.

0:33:01.8 Kat Murti: But then what’s the first thing that they do upon returning to the Citadel? They’re wasting the water in the exact same way. The central cause of the fact they were even able to get back to the Citadel was you see the fallacy of this control‐​and‐​command economy where essentially, everyone’s a soldier. They sent all the soldiers out, and all they had to do is trap them out, and they were able to take control of the city. But then what? Right? So you get this central idea of hope, I think it’s one of the themes of the movie, but we don’t know what’s gonna happen. Where the only thing we get is that there’s this hint, because the end of the movie ends on the sort of… Honestly, a very opaque quote from the first history man, that’s who it’s attributed to. And that implies there’s a future, if there’s a first history man, then presumably there’s a second history man, and there’s someone writing the history. But we know it’s a man. Is that man Max? What happens, we don’t know. [chuckle]

0:34:04.8 Landry Ayre: Well, it’s interesting that you say that, Kat. Because I was looking up some of this, and this also clarifies, I think, a little bit about Furiousa’s backstory as well, is I did not know that there is a comic book series that fills in some of the backstory to this portion of the Mad Max universe, and it was eventually released in a trade paperback. So it actually explains that the history men are… I believe many of them are… At least how they’re portrayed, are former War Boys or people that lived to see these, like Fury Road War, as they call it, end, and Furiosa return. And much akin to Max, they literally will tattoo words onto their bodies in order to preserve and tell the stories of what occurred, because people thought that the forgetting of what happened and those involved was what allowed them to slide into the society that they created with Immortan Joe in the first place. And that by tattooing the words onto their bodies, very similar to how Max has, “Universal donor,” on his, that it was their way of preserving what had gone on for future generations.

0:35:21.6 Natalie Dowzicky: In terms of developing how the War Boys came to be and that kinda stuff, there is definitely a lot to be desired or a lot that was left unsaid in the movie. So to me, that’s… What struck out is like when they’re chrome spraying their mouths, when… That seemed to be like an action they were about to do before they were going to commit suicide or die for the cause or dying in combat, it was a little confusing, other than that just being like some kind of just graphic action film type move. It was confusing to someone who hadn’t seen the previous movies and hadn’t done a lot of background research before watching, that they could have said a lot more about this pseudo‐​cult or the V8 pseudo‐​religion thing [chuckle] before. ‘Cause then I was like, “Well, are they talking about reincarnation?” Landry mentioned this earlier, but when they were injecting themselves with Mad Max’s blood, and then I was like, “Is this some kind of weird cult thing?” So I got that vibe, but it wasn’t clearly explained in the movie. And once I did some research, I saw that there was background knowledge on it. But it was just so very odd. [chuckle]

0:36:31.2 Lester Romero: Yeah. It’s one of those things where it’s very Mad Max‐​like in that movie where things happen so fast, and there just really is no time to fully develop the world that you’re seeing, you’re basically watching it in real time. ‘Cause it’s basically the several long car chases, [chuckle] and it’s hard to absorb all these things. And I wanna go back to a point I made earlier about the Green Place and how these weird, crow‐​like people, these crow‐​like things, you only see them at night briefly as they’re driving through, and they’re the ones who destroy… You find out that they destroy Furiosa’s homeland. That’s a pretty big deal, I would say, but you see them briefly. And the War Boys, they’re just there, and they have this weird thing about wanting to be witnessed, “Witness me, witness me.” I mean, it’s a very adolescent, teenage boy thing to say, “Look at me.”

[chuckle]

0:37:27.1 Landry Ayre: It’s very true, I hadn’t thought about it that way. There’s… I mean, obviously, there’s the idea that martyrdom, you have to be witnessed in order to… If you’re dying for your cause, in order for it to count. But it also is a very stereotypical, masculine thing to be like, “Check this out, I’m gonna jump off the roof and land on some stupid thing.” And if I did it by myself, I would be dumb, but if I do it in front of my friends, it’ll be either hilarious or awesome. [chuckle] So yeah, I hadn’t thought about that before, that’s very true.

0:37:58.9 Lester Romero: And there’s always that one dude who’s always unimpressed.

0:38:02.9 Kat Murti: Yeah.

0:38:03.6 Lester Romero: Even the first kid who died, “That was mediocre.” There’s always that one dude who’s unimpressed. So it’s a very stereotypical, boy’s male behavior, it’s hilarious to me. We could glorify the dumbest thing and make it seem hugely important, but when you step back and look at it, it’s silly though.

[chuckle]

0:38:25.4 Landry Ayre: Well, it’s interesting to me that you talk about things getting glorified, that are really silly, when you look at them in hindsight or something, but I never caught so much of the language and the world that they built. I mean, very much is talking about what gets preserved in the nuclear fallout that sets up the world of Immortan Joe and the Citadel, and this post‐​apocalyptic wasteland. You have water that gets called Aqua Cola, which makes me think that maybe the only thing that survived was not anything about what water was, but just cans of it or something, they talk about McFeasting at one point, as if it’s this heavenly thing, and I didn’t catch it until this time, and I was like, “Wait, McFeasting? Are they using the McDonald’s prefix to talk about that?” And it was just so, so funny to me, to catch all of those things in there, where they’re obviously trying to very subtly build in critiques of mostly consumerist or what not.

0:39:29.8 Kat Murti: Manifest destiny.

0:39:30.5 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah.

0:39:31.1 Kat Murti: They use manifest destiny to mean basically, you die for this cause of Immortan Joe, the very fact that his title is Immortan Joe, they don’t say immortal at any point, they usually say Immorta, there’s no L at the end, and I see that as he’s seen that he’s the great leader because he’s the one who hasn’t died. [chuckle]

[music]

0:39:55.6 Landry Ayre: And now for the time in the show, where we get to share all of the other things that we’ve been enjoying with our time at home. This is Locked In. Kat, Lester, what else have you been enjoying since you have been locked in at home? Movies, TV, music, anything?

0:40:10.8 Kat Murti: So this is nothing new for me, but since March, last March, almost a year ago at this point, I have watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’m now on my third way through, and so…

0:40:22.8 Landry Ayre: You’re a Buffy buff.

0:40:23.0 Kat Murti: I’m a Buffy buff, I love Buffy, I love Buffy, and sort of even kind of ties to Mad Max Fury Road. It’s also sort of turning the tropes on its head with Buffy is the blond teenage cheerleader who dies in all of the horror movies, and in this, the horror serial, she’s the slayer, she’s the only one who can save them from all of it.

0:40:47.1 Landry Ayre: Lester, what about you? You’ve been enjoying any movies or TV shows, games in particular, anything?

0:40:52.4 Lester Romero: I buy a lot of movies, I’m a big physical media guy, so I… And I’m a big cult movie guy, so I buy a lot of things, I watch a lot of stuff, and it’s just… We live in a beautiful age where so many of these old movies are getting restored and put out in these premium formats, and even some of the old classic ones. Last week, I got the 4K of the Kirk Douglas’ Spartacus. It’s gorgeous. Besides that, TV wise, I’m still beaming over the series finale of Ultraman Z, and they aired it on YouTube simultaneously, so you can watch it every Friday night.

0:41:31.2 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, good.

0:41:31.7 Lester Romero: And it’s subtitled, so I was able to actually watch it and it’s just glorious, heroic super hero stuff, and it made me buy some more merchandise, which I gotta do what I gotta do. So I’m just enjoying stuff here, I don’t… I have a Playstation 5 that I barely touch ’cause I’m just not [chuckle] that into games like I used to be, ’cause I just don’t have the time, but it’s a nice system.

0:41:54.8 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah. For me, I have just started the… It’s a new Netflix show called Fate, and then it’s the Winx Saga. So it’s kind of a rip, rip off on like Harry Potter. There’s a bunch of people, students that go to this magical school, and there are different types of fairies, even though they have wizard powers, but you know what, we’re not gonna get into the details of that. It’s so far, it’s good. It was the number one show on Netflix for a few weeks in a row, so I was like, “Yeah, why not?” I just started reading another book, oh gosh, I’m gonna… Oh, oh, it’s called The Secrets We Kept. So I’m a really big World War II historical fiction book junkie. I really like books from… That are written in that time period, and this one is about… It’s actually… It’s more Cold War‐​ish, but this one is about the women who were typewriters at the… In the first CIA office and the kind of information they were privy to, so hence The Secrets We Kept title.

0:43:04.5 Landry Ayre: I have just started watching a show that I have heard a lot about, but hadn’t actually watched on my own, Derry Girls, which is on Netflix, which is a very funny comedy series. There are two seasons of on Netflix right now, that takes place during the 90s, during the troubles. And so, it is a group of mostly teenage girls at their Catholic school, and just kind of living their lives and being normal teenagers at this very, very tumultuous time, and it’s… But it’s a very quick kind of bleak comedy. So you’ve got them in the background, living through bomb threats and bridge closings and check points when they’re going on the bus to school, but they’re also trying to navigate their entirely normal teenage lives. It is very, very funny. If you like Bridgerton, Penelope from Bridgerton is in this show, but she plays a very, very different character. So I think you’ll get a kick out of it, and there’s only 12 episodes and they’re a half hour long. I highly recommend Derry Girls.

[music]

0:44:19.5 Landry Ayre: Thanks for listening. If you wanna know the movies we talk about before the episode comes out, so you can watch along with us, make sure to follow us on Twitter @popnlockepod, that’s pop, the letter N, locke with an E, like the philosopher, pod. Make sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, so you get them as soon as they come out. We look forward to unravelling your favorite TV show or movie, next time. Pop & Locke is produced by me, Landry Ayres, as a project of lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org. To learn more, visit us on the web at www​.lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org.