With four years of Donald Trump the President of the United States on the horizon, we are all going to have to find some ways to cope. My way is certainly just about the least productive possible. I will be searching for movies that provide some sort of catharsis for myself. It’s self-indulgent to the last degree, but we all need a little something.
Re-watching Fury Road recently for the first time since I saw it in the theater was a fascinating experience. Everything I enjoyed about my first experience seemed even better on a second viewing. Beyond its quality, this film will easily go down as one of the most notable pictures of the 21st century when it’s all said and done. Everything about it was so bold that you can just tell right away that it will stand the test of time.
The politics of the film were of coursed noted far and wide at the time of its release and subsequent analyses of it. The story was clearly about patriarchal societies treating women like objects (“We are not things”). The dangers of a dictator-based society were obviously hammered down over and over again throughout.
These elements are such reliable storytelling devices for films because they provide a crystal clear dynamic of good vs. evil. That’s important when you have to tell your story in such a tight time frame compared to something like a television series or novel.
For years though, telling those clear good vs. evil stories seemed cheap a lot of the the time. Sure, the world has seen its fascist and totalitarianism regimes oppress people time and time again. America itself commits acts of evil against others on a regular basis of course and was built on ethnic cleansing and racially-based enslavement.
Watching a classic story portray a totalitarian regime in the Age of Trump hit a little bit too close at home at times despite the depth of the absurdity of this film. *OBVIOUSLY*, I am not saying Donald Trump is Immortan Joe. However, Fury Road is telling the story of the end days of a totalitarian regime, and America could clearly be in the early days of one if we’re not careful. We may have started on such a path.
That path is daunting. It’s sorely tempting to think it’s too late and just get out of the way. It would be so much easier to start anew someplace else. While considering that and watching this film, I found the following line/moment to be the most profound.
“You know, hope is a mistake….if you can’t fix what’s broken….you’ll go insane.”
That message of course does not merely apply to making decisions about to resist tyranny. (For Max in that film, he is haunted by those whom he could not save.) For anyone facing great odds though and looking into the face of evil, you cannot run away. It will do for a spell, but it will not be lasting change. It will not heal what is broken. It will not save those who need help. You need to do more. You need to stand your ground and fight back.