“As a number of critics have already noted, Mad Max is a deeply feminist film. Though the title puts Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) front and center, it is Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa who truly defines the film, with Max literally being taken along for the ride. Yet even though the film truly belongs to Furiosa—and honestly bears only the loosest resemblance to the original Mel Gibson trilogy–it is still (white, male) Max who serves as the anchor, receives top billing, and acts as the audience’s entry point into this world of women.
There’s nothing particularly new about the trope of “relatable” (read: white and male) characters serving as a bridge for stories that take audiences into less familiar terrain. Long before Mad Max: Fury Road, The Wire’s Jimmy McNulty was guiding audiences through the streets of predominantly black Baltimore.
Today we occupy an entertainment landscape in which shows like Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, and Jane the Virgin have all found success. It’s been proven, time and again, that shows need not forefront a white male (or even just white) viewpoint in order to be “relatable.” So it’s troubling to see that the creators of shows about women and people of color still seem to believe they need a white male interpreter to keep audiences from getting disoriented.
But perhaps there’s a more optimistic way of looking at the issue. Perhaps we should see the Max Rockatanskys and Steven Universes of film and TV as the last vestiges of a fading era of white male dominance.”