3D Printing of Furiosa’s Arm Shows the Impact of Representing Disabilities Through Strength
*Light Spoilers Ahead*
I read a very powerful blog post from L. J. Vaughn, about her reaction to Mad Max Fury Road’s Furiosa character. Laura is a fetal amputee and has been missing her left arm since birth. She discusses why and how this movie represented and showed the strength of someone with a disability without ever mentioning or looking deeper into the disability itself. To me the most important take away from this article was her seriousness in saying ‘NO. ONE. EVER. FEELS. SORRY. FOR. HER. BECAUSE. OF. HER. DISABILITY.’
That stuck with me. It’s still stuck. I am not disabled and have never gone any length of time in a cast or crutches until recently with a broken collar bone. I will never view Mad Max: Fury Road in the way that Laura did, but I can listen to what made it so powerful for her and hope to learn from that. We talk a lot about race equality, gender equality, sexual equality but I don’t often hear about representation for those with disabilities. Really think about it, through all the war, apocalyptic, killing movies you don’t see anyone with a disability triumph and live and succeed in their on screen lives. Is it due to fear of this subject? Is it because people can’t find it ‘believable’ that someone with a disability can be as bad ass as anyone else? I don’t have those answers but I will say at one point Furiosa beats Max with her nub when the prosthetic is off and never once in my head was I thinking ‘oh that doesn’t look like it hurts so much because she doesn’t have an arm’ or ‘oh she’d never be able to do that without an arm’; I was really thinking ‘fucking YEA nothing can stop this BAMF’, and I’m fairly certain I started hitting my fiance in the chair next to me from all of the excitement.
After going viral, and of course crushing the cosplay of Furiosa in basically no time at all, Laura was connected with a prop designer who had been looking to build a prosthetic for a real amputee. Msleeper blogged about this experience. While initially the plan had been to design the T-800 Endo Arm from T2, after being connected with Laura it became obvious that the path had already lead them to making Furiosa’s arm instead. In 2 weeks, yea that is 14 days, the prosthetic has been built using a 3D printer, and here it is (though this is before paint).
The whole arm has been painted and finished now, it has all the gears/springs/wrenches it needs to be as close to the original as possible. This is pretty fucking cool, and I definitely wouldn’t question anyone wearing it. I’m glad that Laura’s blog went viral, I’m glad the conversation is being had about representation for those with disabilities, and that as a whole people aren’t looking for sympathy. Furiosa never once was, and I never expected her to so why is there an expectation for sympathy in the real world? Sensitivity to a subject and feeling sympathy about a situation are very different things, hopefully this will bring to light the need have more realistic representation in films, and that people won’t shy away from it because it’s considered a less ‘glamorous’ issue.
Here are some pics of the final work: