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Strong Character Matters

Strong Character Matters

We are living in a golden age for entertainment.  There is currently an embarrassment of riches, in regards to artist talent, and overall quality.  This goes for books, movies and television.   The passion of fans also seems to be at an all time high.    The downside of this is that some fans are converting that passion into anger that is directed at artists, who don’t give them exactly what they want.   Even taking it so far, that some of them are making threats of violence towards these artists.  I love all the passion we have for our entertainment, but it’s getting a little out of hand, these days.

It seems that both sexes are angry about how they are being portrayed, and this summer in particular has given us two very good examples of how carried away fans are getting.  First it was the outrage over how Joss Whedon portrayed Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Utron.  Then it was the outrage, and even a boycott WEEKS BEFORE the film ever came out, over Mad Max: Fury Road.  Both sexes took exception to what they perceived as a slight to characters they liked.  Like I said, I love the passion fans are showing but some of this anger is misdirected and clearly over the top, in my opinion.

Strong Character Matters

A lot of women took exception to Black Widow being relegated to the “lullaby” for The Hulk, so he could revert to being Bruce Banner again, once a battle was over.  Some looked at it as her having to play “Mommy” to the Green Goliath.  I guess that many of them don’t quite understand what a feat of courage and strength that really is.  The Hulk is more like a force of nature than he is a superhero.  Anything that can control him should be looked at with reverence, in my humble opinion.  When you also consider the growth of her character, going from being horrified and trembling when the Hulk gets loose aboard the hellicarrier in the first Avengers movie, this feat of strength and courage becomes all the more remarkable.  She has faced a fear head on, and conquered it with a grace that is downright commendable.

I can understand some of the anger about the scene with Bruce, where she reveals she was sterilized as part of the Black Widow program.  It does kind of play on the old stereotype that a woman who doesn’t have children is somehow not as complete in her womanhood.  That being said, in this context it seemed more about the ongoing theme of the entire movie that ALL the Avengers were monsters to some extent.   Not to say that her being sterile made her a monster, but certainly her character seemed to think it helped push her down that path.  It was also just her way of trying to relate to Bruce about why she felt he was worthy of her love, when he was doubting that he deserved it.

I liked their awkward love story in this film, and thought it wouldn’t have been as touching without this scene, personally.  I am sure Joss Whedon probably felt the same way, and that’s why he wrote it.  Given his body of work, and how his writing is filled with strong female characters, I wish that people would have cut him some more slack.  He is very much on your side ladies, and he did not deserve the anger that he got for all of this.

Strong Character Matters

As for Mad Max: Fury Road, a lot of men took exception to Furiosa being a greater focus of the story than Max.  They didn’t like how he was relegated to what they felt was secondary status, for his character.  The problem with this take is two-fold.  First, Max has ALWAYS been a champion for the downtrodden and, in every movie except the first in the franchise, he struggles with being selfish while always ultimately doing things that are totally selfless and for the good of others.  This movie is no different, and admirably continues that narrative.   Second, strong women are present in EVERY movie of the franchise, and George Miller taking it to this level should not really come as a surprise if you are a fan of it.  From Max’s wife & the shotgun wielding Aunt May, in Mad Max, the utterly fearless Warrior Woman who rides on top of the tanker, in Road Warrior, all the way to Aunty Entity who runs Bartertown, in Mad Max 3, there is no shortage of strong female characters in this franchise.

I thought it was great that George took it to this next level and created Furiosa.  Initially, I thought this would be a film that didn’t appeal to women, despite the boycott and complaining from men that preceded it’s release.  So much so, that I initially saw the movie with friends, because I thought my wife and daughter would probably not be into it at all.  After seeing it though, I couldn’t wait to go back a second time with my wife and daughter.  They ended up loving it just as much as I did, and it became an unexpected hit within my household that we are all still talking about.

The take that Max was somehow degraded and made weak by this story, is a little off base in my opinion.  He was still as amazingly tough as he’s always been, and there are multiple times in the movie where he shows respect to Furiosa and the other woman in the movie with nothing more than simple glances at them, a real sign of his character’s strength.  My favorite of these being at the end of the movie, when he looks up at Furiosa as she is being hoisted into the air on the metal platform to assume Immortan Joe’s position as leader of The Citadel.  It’s a look that seems to say both “We did it” and “This is your moment, you go girl.”, before he walks away.  This is a sign of a truly strong man.  He can put aside his own ego and let a woman have her moment in the sun, even after helping her get there.  It’s downright admirable, in my opinion.

Strong character matters to both sexes, but we shouldn’t make them one dimensional to appease people’s views of unfairness in the world.  Woman can be strong while still being sensitive and nurturing, and the same goes for men.  We are complex people as a whole, and our heroes should reflect that.  Telling people that characters should be a certain way, to appease our own personal narratives, is far more damaging to young boys and girls than simply allowing our characters to show a few tender moments.  It gives them unrealistic expectations about how life really works.  No one is strong one hundred percent of the time, and trying to be will only lead to disappointment.

In conclusion I have one piece of advice for all the complainers out there.  Don’t like how a character is written, write your own stories.  The more people that create the better.  It increases our chances of making masterpieces, and it will also teach you that ultimately people gravitate towards characters that are flawed and human, just like us.


This article is solely the opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the other contributors to this page, or the page as a whole.







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