Furious Fandom

My favorite part of being a geek is the passion that comes with that. To me, being a fan is a passive activity. But being a geek is something that requires effort. Semantics, yes, but in my mind the difference is huge. Fans like things. Geeks do things. Fans watch television shows. Geeks write fanfiction, make fanvids, cosplay, and even make props from their favorite things.

It’s prop making I want to talk about now.

Prop makers spend hours/days/months/sometimes years laboring over their creations, and many of their works are things of beauty. I own a Defiance lawkeeper badge that Grant Nolan himself said was nicer than his, and I’ve seen guns, swords, quivers and armor that rivals anything on screen. That level of intricacy is often made more difficult here in the real world, where physics applies and CGI doesn’t. These are props that aren’t made for movies but for people to wear in the real world. They have to hold up all day. They can’t be tweaked between scenes. They have to be comfortable enough to wear for hours on end and hardy enough to withstand the constant barrages of life.

Hobby prop makers rise to this challenge. Their creations are amazing, and so many of the things I love lend themselves to this art. This summer, we got another treat. Another (in this case literal) sandbox in which to play. Enter Mad Max: Fury Road.

Enter Mad Max: Fury Road indeed, with its Doof Wagon and Doof Guitar and crazy steering wheels and body armors and weapons. And most of all enter Mad Max: Fury Road with Furiosa’s prosthetic arm.

That arm, and that character, has inspired so many people to build, and so many women (plus at least one man I recently met) to cosplay.

The why of that is easy. Furiosa is a great character, and one we’re not used to seeing. A woman who is all woman (she really is, y’all) but yet tough as nails. A woman who is allowed to be strong and yet break when her dreams are destroyed. And most of all, a woman who is allowed to experience the full range of human emotions while still somehow being the mythical “strong female character” that is so prevalent, but so hard to do well. Furiosa does it well, and we love her for that.

Not only does she do it well, she does so without using her sex to gain any sort of advantage (no cleavage or acting like a ninny!) and she does it with only one arm.

Did you read that right? An actual woman. With a disability. Who can get things done. Without using sex. But who isn’t some sort of super human. No wonder everyone loves Furiosa.

That everyone includes female amputees, obviously. And we’ve already covered how much fun prop makers are having with that prosthetic. That prosthetic that doesn’t sprout any guns or knives, by the way, but is merely functional. What a concept to make it not a gimmick but a relatable thing.

So, when one of said amputees meets up with one of said prop makers through the wonders of the internet, well, that’s just magic, folks.

That’s so much magic that you get this.

Photo by Norman Chan at Tested

This is Laura, who was introduced to a good chunk of the internet via this post when it went viral, for good reason.

Photo by Me

And this is Laura with Michelle, the prop builder who made the arm above. Michelle, who was introduced to Laura by a friend. Michelle, who always wanted to build a Terminator arm for an actual amputee as a dream prop project, but who changed plans when, in her own words, “Mad Max: Fury Road came out and changed everything.”

I had the great fortune to meet these two ladies at Dragon Con after interacting with Michelle on the Replica Prop Forum, a place that has helped me for years with many of my own projects.

Of all the things happening at Dragon Con, this was my one “must do.” I cosplayed as Max and attended a huge Mad Max group photoshoot. I don’t have a good group photo that I have permission to use, as I was in them all, but I saw War Boys and Immortans and Maxes and Wives and Vuvalini and many Furiosa (we decided the plural of Furiosa is Furiosa, by the way). But this particular prop and its wearer is why I love everything about fandom, cosplay, prop building, and specifically Fury Road so very much in a nutshell, and it’s what I went to see.

I could go on and on about why Fury Road is fantastic, but that’s been done a hundred times over, and it isn’t the focus of this blog. Suffice to say that for me, Fury Road is about one thing: that no one wins alone. We are, all of us, stronger together than we are apart.

This cosplay and prop personifies that to me, and that’s why I wanted to see it in the flesh and why I wanted to share it with you all. Well, that and because it’s awesome – obviously.

Because creativity is awesome. Because fans are awesome. And because Michelle is dead right. Fury Road changed everything. Men and women and even pregnant ladies and amputees all being treated like full characters – magic, I tell you.

Magic that we try to capture with our cosplays and our prop building (and most of all, in cases like this, our teamwork). I can think of far worse ways for folks to spend their time than emulating such wonder.

So I send a huge salute to Michelle and Laura for this project, and I encourage anyone else who wants to come dig in this sandbox to do so, because it’s a great place to play.

For more info on this build (and to see bigger pics!), visit the original thread on the RPF.

Myself and Laura, photo by Michelle

Thank you again to Michelle and Laura for the inspiration. It was a pleasure to meet you both. I hope we can chat again someday.

Until then, keep building.

GS Blogger: wabbit

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