Monday, September 12, 2011

My Made-up Role Models

I have been lucky to have a large number of amazing, smart, powerful, and loving women in my family, all of whom have helped me to become the woman that I am today.  But my journey to womanhood was also influenced by another group of amazing women: fictional characters.  These ladies may not have been real, but they loomed large in my imagination and influenced the way I saw the world.

Today's made-up role model: Aunty Entity from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (played by the wonderful Tina Turner, a real-live role model!).

Let me first say that there will be no discussion here of a certain co-star who is doing his damnedest to ruin his entire movie history.  I finally got my dad to give me his Road Warrior t shirt and now I can't wear it because it has a giant picture of you know who on it.  But I will not let him taint my love for Aunty Entity!

Aunty Entity is tough, devious, and fierce (that's fierce in both the warrior sense and the Ru Paul sense).  She is someone who truly knows how to turn lemons into lemonade, as she seized the opportunity of a worldwide disaster to turn herself from a "nobody" into the leader of a cutthroat society based on bartering where energy is provided by manure.  Hmmm.  Maybe instead of "lemons into lemonade" I should have said that Aunty Entity knows how to make pig poop into power.

Her cunning kicks into gear when that power is threatened, and she hires Mad Max to help her kill a rival.  When the deal goes south, Aunty unsentimentally banishes Max to the desert because she can't have him hanging around and making trouble for her.  And in the end, when Max has all but destroyed her society, causing explosions and helping the escape of the one man who knows how to make the fertilizer into power, when he lies vulnerable and bleeding on the ground in front of her, she only laughs.  "Ain't we a pair," she says,  "raggedy man."

I spent years analyzing that.  Why does she leave him there?  Why not kill him?  Why does she laugh?  Lesser women might have allowed their anger to rule in that moment, but Aunty Entity is a survivor.  She can't afford to get angry and expend needless energy.  What's done is done.  Now she has to get back to Bartertown and rebuild from the damage that Max caused.  Besides, she's going back to a town filled with people who look to her to make decisions and rule.  Max is in the desert, completely alone, with no friends and no supplies.

But on a less practical level, I like to think that Aunty Entity leaves Max alive because she likes him.  She recognizes herself in them; they are both survivors above anything else.  She leaves him in an impossible situation, but she knows that he's probably going to find a way to scrape by, just like she would have.

Of course, there is more to Aunty than her smarts; she rocks possibly the best outfit ever seen on a female movie character.

Note the chain-mail dress cut to the hip, the head-high metal shoulder constructions, the huge hoop earrings, the lion mane wig.  If I ever become the leader of a band of post-apocalypse renegades, I know what I'm going to wear.

Finally, Aunty Entity is played by Tina Turner, which means we get an awesome single for the movie soundtrack.  Have I mentioned that I love songs that utilize children's choirs?

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