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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Monday, May 18, 2015

Shock! Horror! Single random person calls for boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road

I see that this Aaron Clarey person, apparently a men's rights advocate, has called for a boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road on the basis of its supposed feminist message or some such thing.

First, let me say that I would never call for a boycott of a film, song, book, etc., on the basis of what I take to be its message. At most, I might write about it in a way meant to make the message clear and to criticise it. There might be some circumstances in which I'd not see the film, listen to the song, read the book, etc., myself, if, for example, I had some serious objection to the director/singer/author/etc., but I would certainly not try to organise a boycott of some cultural product for its message. That is, in effect, trying to punish and deter speech that I disagree with - it shows an authoritarian, anti-liberal impulse. (Much better, I think, to be positive about good art than get into the game of punishment and deterrence.)

Second, Clarey would probably hate my own fiction - including the novels I wrote for the Terminator franchise some years ago now. Those novels and my other work are notable for their highly capable, kickass female characters, and that was a conscious strategy on my part. I enjoyed creating characters such as Jade Tagatoshi in the Terminator books, Idol Le Saint in "Lucent Carbon" and "Idol", my version of Queen Zenobia in "The Sword of God", and so on. If the powers that be ever made a movie based on my Terminator books (which they are legally entitled to do), Clarey would want to boycott that as well, I suppose.

But third, I hesitate to write this post because so many other people are blowing this incident out of all proportion, as if the silly - and yes, rather authoritarian - proposal of one stray MRA with a platform amounts to some sort of crisis. I'm sure that far more people have read denunciations of Clarey - together with suggestions that his piece represents a cultural crisis - than would ever had read his article in the normal course of events. Furthermore, this publicity is probably helping the box office of Mad Max: Fury Road. Let's keep a sense of proportion.

Edit: Someone on Twitter informed me that "Return of Kings" claims not to be an MRA site. Well, I don't know all the technical terminology of the (Zeus help us!) "manosphere" - however, you don't have to look very far to see that it is, at least, an explicitly anti-feminist site. Whether the site and the author are, speaking strictly, putting an "MRA" position, as opposed to some other bloody sort of (perhaps more extreme) anti-feminist position, was not my point or something I would want to insist on.

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