Mad Max: Fury Road Consulted with The Vagina Monologues's Eve Ensler on Gender Issues

Monday, 04 May 2015 - 3:33PM
Mad Max: Fury Road
Monday, 04 May 2015 - 3:33PM
Mad Max: Fury Road Consulted with The Vagina Monologues's Eve Ensler on Gender Issues
When you think of Mad Max: Fury Road, the first adjective you think of probably isn't "politically sensitive," but now there's a lot more evidence that it's trying to be. According to co-star Rosie Huntington Whiteley, George Miller brought in the infamous feminist and Vagina Monologues writer Eve Ensler to consult on storylines that touch on some potentially controversial gender issues.

Mild spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road follow!



In a new interview with Esquire, Whiteley revealed that her character is pregnant through serial rape during a long and traumatic captivity, leading to serious psychological issues, including self-harm. In order to do such sensitive material justice, Miller brought in Ensler as a consultant to talk to the actresses playing the Five Wives, all of whom presumably have similar backstories:

"We were so lucky that George arranged for Eve Ensler, who wrote the Vagina Monologues, to fly in and work with us girls for about a week. We did extensive research with her. Eve herself has had a very intense life. She's spent time in the Congo working with rape victims and women who have had unthinkable things happen to them through the power of men's hands. We were able to pick her brain for a week. She told us the most tragic stories I've ever heard in my life, which gave us so much background to our characters. We really wanted to kind of showcase that. It was a privilege to have her around to make these characters something more then just five beautiful girls."

I find this to be genuinely impressive, as it's difficult for anyone who's not part of a marginalized group to write about the oppression that they experience. Rather than risk misrepresentation, it's a great idea to bring in a consultant who knows the issues inside out.

That being said, Whiteley didn't say anything about Ensler consulting on the writing, only the acting. While her expertise would be useful for the actresses to get into the right mindset, for sensitivity's sake it might be more important that she consult on the script.

This news makes me a little more optimistic about the gender representation in Mad Max, but I'm still somewhat skeptical that the Five Wives plotline won't be gratuitous and/or objectifying. First, all five of the Wives are models, while two (Whiteley and Abbey Lee Kershaw) are primarily well-known for being supermodels rather than for their acting careers. And even while Whiteley insists that they'll be more than "just five beautiful girls," she shares this story about her wardrobe:

"When I signed on for [Mad Max], we didn't know much about our characters. I had made the assumption that I was going to be in bad-ass leathers and jackets and studs and motorcycle boots and all of that. I turned up in the costume department and George said take your pick of all of these bandages and design yourself some kind of outfit, at which my mouth sort of hit the floor and said, '…okay.'"

She then goes on to explain that it was freezing and "most of [the women] were scantily clad." Then, while filming the introduction scene, they had to be "wet down with hoses before each take for two weeks," which caused Riley Keough to get pneumonia. We'll give it the benefit of the doubt, especially considering the news about Ensler, but there may still be objections that should be raised.

Mad Max: Fury Road hits theaters on May 15.
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