Max Max: Fury Road is a spectacle set in a dystopian world. It has explosions, fast cars and bikes, 3D effects worthy of the medium, and gory deaths that were shocking, surprising, and rewarding. This movie seemingly has everything a Summer movie goer could want, except a cast that reflects and represents the demographic buying the tickets. If the target demographic of Mad Max: Fury Road is Aryan with one token Black person out of all the viewers, then Mad Max is representative of it’s audience. Something tells me the filmmakers expects a much larger crowd. Having already seen the movie and reviewed it with my fellow Black Geek, Big Baba Rob, I can say that Mad Max: Fury Road is what you should expect from a big-budget post-apocalyptic Summer movie. There’s action in spades, little plot or at least a plot that makes you care about anyone involved, and at the end of the day, you could mute all the dialog or put it in a language you don’t understand and still get the gist of the movie and enjoy or not enjoy it just as much.
However, at a certain point in the movie you might realize something is a little off about the world of Mad Max: Fury Road. For some, you notice it in the first 5 minutes, for others much later, but unless you’re blind, at some point in the film, you may find yourself shocked at the glaring omission of minorities in…the…entire…movie. Yes, there was ONE cast member that was Black, the lovely Zoë Kravitz, and to be perfectly honest, it took me 30 minutes to realize that her character was not White and that it was Zoë Kravitz, but that could just be me. Either way, she’s the only one in this film who is not Caucasian. The entire cast whether main character or extra is White. It became so comical to me in a “I can’t believe this BS” way, that I yelled out in the theater “I guess all the minorities are extinct” and most of the audience laughed out loud. I guess they were thinking the same thing.
Some may read this “critique” of the film and feel that it doesn’t matter the ethnic make-up of the cast and to you dear reader I say unto you, that YOU are part of the problem. As a minority, I’m fine tuned to the historical omission of minorities in film and in this day and age it’s just despicable that it still exists. I for one am getting tired of counting minorities, or wondering why the minority is the villain, shady character, or comic relief to a majority White cast or wondering if the minority will make it to the end of the movie without dying. I sucks knowing that when it comes to film, Television, and novels that at the end of the day, more often than not, if your a minority your worth is summed up in how good of a plot device you make or your existence is barely if noticed at all.
Part of the immersion process of any story regardless of the medium is the ability for the reader, viewer, etc. to see themselves in a similar situation, setting, or narrative. An author/storyteller usually wants their audience to care about the characters, the plot, and immerse themselves in the tale that is being told. Many stories fall flat to audiences when they become too unbelievable or relatable. So in this all-White, end of the world, narrative what are the filmmakers suggesting to their minority audience when they fail to include them in any significant way?
To many including myself, the glaring omission of minorities in this movie as well as others in the recent memory where Hollywood decided to retell Biblical stories with a predominantly all-White cast a la 1950 for instance, is like a slap in the face. We’re nearly half-way through 2015 and if you’re a minority family with the next generation of geeks in tow, after you’ve spent $12 dollars each for your tickets (nearly $20 for 3-D), exorbitant amounts on popcorn, drinks, etc. and then sit down to watch the film, it feels like Hollywood is giving you the middle finger.
What this film like it’s predecessors suggest, is that minorities don’t have what it takes to survive the apocalypse except that one exceptional magic minority who somehow made it against all odds. It seems as if films like Mad Max: Fury Road represent a fantasy of White filmmakers, imagining a utopia of sorts, a world that is devoid of people of color. One has to wonder if during casting anyone noticed the obvious. Were the casting choices deliberate or has Hollywood really run out of fu*ks to give?
Mad Max: Fury Road in my opinion had too many flaws in my opinion to rate it high on my best of 2015 list so far. Those honors go to Ex-Machina, Kingsman, and Avengers Age of Ultron in my book. Not that Mad Max: Fury Road sucked. It did not. I enjoyed most of it and feel that you’d be cheating yourself if you didn’t see it in 3-D. The lack of minority inclusion in the movie was just a smack in the damn face as a minority viewer and I long for the day when Hollywood realizes that it is numerically impossible for the over representation of White people in the post-apocalyptic and Sci-fi genres. If these movies had even a hint of demographic realism, the cast would be majority people of color and depending on how far in the future the setting, most would look alike ethnically considering the prevalence of interracial relationships today. White people are only the majority population in the West and barely. The rest of the world, like the largest continents and places on Earth with the highest concentrations of people are non-White.
One has to wonder the subtext of an all-White future in film. Are White people better equipped to for the future or more likely to survive a mass extinction level event in the eyes of writers, and filmmakers? Seems that no matter how much things change, some things stay the same… Well, at least we have a Black President right?