The Furiosa Test developed from female presence in Mad Max: Fury Road
Have you ever heard of the Bechdel test? It’s a simple test that many people use when watching movies. Do two named women have a conversation about something other than a male character? This doesn’t mean that the movie is feminist, or women-friendly, or even good — it sets the bar extremely low. But some movies still fail to pass it. The most recent Avengers movie, “Age of Ultron,” doesn’t pass. There are only three conversations between female characters — one is about a man, one is unheard in the background, and one is between Black Widow and an unnamed character.
On the other hand, there’s also the “Sexy Lamp Test,” which it does pass. The test asks whether or not the female character can be replaced with a sexy lamp and have the plot remain relatively unchanged. Avengers passes — but a recent Adam Sandler movie, “Pixels,” does not. There’s a female videogame character that one of the main males is obsessed with — she falls for the male for some reason, and doesn’t say a single word. Replacing her with a sexy lamp would make no difference at all.
The recent 2013 film, “Pacific Rim,” is one that manages to pass the Sexy Lamp test, but it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. Despite that, it has an amazingly strong female character, Mako Mori; fans have, therefore, created another test. The Mako Mori test. If the movie has a female character who has her own narrative arc that is not about supporting the man’s story, it’s a pass. “Pacific Rim,” clearly, passes!
And “Mad Max: Fury Road,” is a movie that passes all three of these. At one point in the movie, there are 12 different female characters onscreen, and none of them are talking about a man. Absolutely none. This is something that is absolutely phenomenal — this doesn’t happen in movies, not usually. It doesn’t have one character that passes the Sexy Lamp test, or the Mako Mori test — it has at least seven. Seven strong, great female characters that stand on their own and are not defined by men.
In fact, given how progressive it is, the fans of “Fury Road” have even coined their own test based off of the movie. The Furiosa test. It’s a rather simple one, really: do people on the internet get mad about it being feminist? (I hate to say it, guys, but it’s usually guys getting mad over that aspect.) It was the massive fits about how women-centric and women-empowering Fury Road was that made me want to watch the show in the first place. Seeing grown men rant about how something being feminist was terrible over Twitter? To be honest, it was kind of great. When a show or movie passes this, it means I really want to see it. It’s gotta be good.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is one of the only two shows/movies I know of that passes all four of these tests – the brand new show “Supergirl” is the other one. It’s a compelling story with a great plot line and massive amounts of female characters. If you go watch it tonight, think about this stuff. (If you aren’t planning on going tonight, maybe reconsider!) Is it strange, to see all these main female characters together, not talking about a man? To see them grow and change independently? To see them matter?
It’s a nice change, I think. I hope we get to see it more.