Charlize Theron's Gory Action Flick Shares a Mission with Tina Fey's Beloved Comedy
On the surface, the sci-fi action flick Mad Max: Fury Road and the quirky Netflix comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt appear to have little in common. The former, set in a postapocalyptic desert, is a car-chase movie led by a jaded truck driver; the latter is an Internet sitcom starring a comically naive nanny attempting to make ends meet in modern-day New York.
But at their core, both Mad Max: Fury Road and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are more than just vehicles for incredibly determined female characters—they’re also stories about survivors of sexual assault. That parallel is nowhere more apparent than in a new YouTube mash-up that combines footage from the movie and the show to illustrate how their respective characters are “strong as hell,” as the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song goes.
The Netflix comedy, created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, is about a woman who escapes from a religious cult in Indiana, where she and three other “mole women” were held against their will for 15 years. The catchy opening title sequence shows the women being rescued from the underground bunker and a neighbor telling a local news station that “females are strong as hell.” It's a loose parody of the story of Charles Ramsay, the real-life neighbor who helped rescue three women who had been held captive for 10 years in Cleveland, Ohio.
“Females are strong as hell” is a memorable refrain throughout the show, but it might also make a fitting tag line for Mad Max: Fury Road, the action movie that, despite what its title suggests, is really all about Charlize Theron’s character, Furiosa. For that reason, an antifeminist blog called for its boycott, dubbing the movie a “feminist piece of propaganda.” The film follows Furiosa as she rescues a group of young women who had been kept as sex slaves, several of them impregnated by their perpetrator.
Meanwhile, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has been praised for presenting a story about a rape survivor who is not defined by her abuse but who moves on from it and finds a new kind of freedom in her resilience. It’s a welcome portrayal, considering the grim statistics: Sexual assault survivors are four times more likely to contemplate suicide than others, according to the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center. The chances that a woman will develop PTSD after being raped are between 50 and 95 percent, and half of sexual violence victims had to quit or were forced to leave their job in the year following their assault owing to the severity of their reactions.
To ensure accuracy and sensitivity in the portrayal of rape survivors who may be suffering from PTSD, Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller hired Vagina Monologues writer and women’s rights activist Eve Ensler to consult about violence against women around the world. “One out of three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime,” Ensler told Time last week, adding that she talked to the actors about sex trafficking in America and the psychological effects of being held as a sex slave. “It’s a central issue of our time, and that violence against women relates to racial and economic injustice. This movie confronts those issues head-on.”