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Mad Max: Perpetuating or combating how women are represented in film?

A scene from
A scene from "Mad Max: Fury Road."
Jasin Boland

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In a recent interview with The Guardian, actress Charlize Theron summed up the average female role in Hollywood: “You’re either a really good mother, or a really good hooker.”

Theron stars in the new action thriller "Mad Max: Fury Road" as Imperator Furiosa, an amputee with little patience and even less hair. She takes guff from exactly no one and ferries sex slaves across the desert while fending off bad guys.

Despite her portrayal as a strong, no-nonsense woman in the film, some are crying foul about her character. One men’s rights activism group took issue with Theron’s character ordering Mad Max around (no one orders Max around, they say), saying that the film is just another example of Hollywood ruining a perfectly good action film by trying to jam a female character into the cast in order to draw in those extra few million women.

Theron sees it the opposite way. “George [Miller] just showed the truth of who we are as women, and that’s even more powerful,” she told The Guardian. “Women thrive in being many things. We can be just as dark and light as men.”

In what ways are women portrayed in action films? Do you think they help perpetuate or combat gender stereotypes about female characters in movies? How are feminist themes represented in film? Who are your favorite female action heroes? What made them memorable to you?


Amy Nicholson, film critic for L.A. Weekly

Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC and Alt Film Guide

Wade Major, film critic for KPCC and host for IGN’s