Usually, I just let cultural phenomena pass me by, avoiding popular culture by default rather than act of will. It takes an act of will to get me into a movie theater for a first-run movie. Often my lacking will is enhanced by the will of another (family member) or by the situation (wonderful movie theater, appropriate babysitting (not important any more but for many years a driver), vacation.

So I was on vacation in San Francisco and decided that because of the showtimes and distance and amenities, I’d walk to the Sundance Kabuki with my husband and watch Mad Max: Fury Road. I was also inspired by the sexist blogtalk about the women in the movie having speaking roles and ruining everything for sexist men. I had to know what was going on.

One other thing about my history: I’ve never seen any of the Mad Max movies all the way through. I don’t remember who I went with, but whoever it was, they had to see it again later, since I walked out in the first five minutes. This is not at all a common thing for me, but I made the mistake of covering and uncovering my eyes in such a way that an early act of violence seemed worse than it was, and I was grossed out so I voted with my feet.

This isn’t a movie review, it’s more of a serious question: Why, other than for marketing reasons, is the secondary character’s name in the title? This isn’t a movie about Max, it’s a movie about Furiosa. Furiosa is the one with a character arc, a mission, a backstory, and a great deal of both narrative and physical power. Max is a guy who shows up to help out.

It makes me sad that someone — a whole host of someones — saw that an action movie which fully developed the slightly underdone central plot (what was the Old World for Furiosa? how did she come up with her plan? what happened to make her the only woman Imperator among inbred men?) wouldn’t sell without a recognizable name character in the title.

As a non-fanatic (about this or any other narrative franchise), I’m sure I’m missing something. As a woman expecting something offensive to sexist men, I was a little surprised that the scantily clad mothers weren’t more of a sop. Or the fact that in a cast of thousands, there are only a handful of women characters who speak, much less who are developed — though they all kick ass to one degree or another. Except perhaps the nursing mothers.

The thing is, I had no expectations of this movie, no real context other than idiot rants. Though I find I have seen Tom Hardy, the guy who played Max, in many TV shows, I don’t recall him at all. I suppose I’m supposed to see Inception, but since I heard very little anti-feminist backlash, I can only assume it supports the patriarchal sexist Hollywood paradigm much better than Fury Road. Or I can see it, but since it’s neither showing at the Cinerama nor available on Netflix, I suppose I’ll have to wait until someone gives me a good reason.