Smegma Crazies, Gayboys, and The Golden Youth

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On the surface, The Road Warrior is a fine action movie that defined the post-apocalyptic genre and put everyone involved on the map. If we put aside the action and go a little deeper, we start to see some interesting clues about the Humungus tribe. As we already saw with Lord Humungus and especially Fury Road, George Miller loves adding cryptic details into his films. Perhaps the most discussed and yet mysterious of these details revolves around the Humungus tribe’s not-so-subtle homoeroticism.

At the beginning of the film, we see Wez, his companion, and a few mooks engaged in a fast-paced pursuit. When the scene slows down to give Wez his fist close up, the audience immediately notices Wez’s companion, a young man credited as The Golden Youth, wears a black leather bondage harness. What I’ve always found more interesting is the chain and padlock dangling from his neck.

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While Wez is removing the crossbow bolt from his arm, the camera is positioned such that both The Golden Youth and Wez share the frame. In fact, The Golden Youth remains shares the frame throughout the shot, even as the camera pans up to focus on Wez’s twisted expression. George Miller could have done a simple close up of Vernon Wells followed by a reverse reaction shot of Max, but it seems he wanted the viewer to take notice of The Golden Youth, especially since this is the opening scene and the audience’s first encounter with the Humungus tribe.

Early drafts of The Road Warrior suggest The Golden Boy was originally meant to be female, but the writers (Miller, Hayes, and Hannat) wanted to demonstrate that gender roles were meaningless in the post-societal world. This motif comes through with another character who is practically The Golden Youth’s opposite and was originally supposed to be male. The Warrior Woman has agency and character, while The Golden Youth remains silent and submissive until his sudden death.

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Would Wez arm a slave?

Some have suggested The Golden Youth was a sex slave, but I think there’s more to it than that, especially since he can be seen wielding a baseball bat. The Golden Youth’s death adds another layer to Wez’s character, who would otherwise be a mass murderer without motivation. Alarmed at his partner’s death, Wez erupts into a violent rage. The focus of the scene switches from Humungus’ speech to Wez’s outburst. Humungus knows something about the relationship between Wez and The Golden Youth as the bandit king calls Wez’ name while he kneels next the corpse.

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When Wez screams for the murder of Papagallo’s entire tribe, Humungus tries to sooth him, saying “We all lost someone we love.” I believe Lord Humungus’ immediate concern for Wez combined with that additional line provides a little extra insight into the relationship between these characters, particularly since The Golden Youth’s death serves as the motivation for Wez’s unrestrained (and later physically restrained) hatred of Papagallo’s tribe.

The Golden Youth isn’t the only homoerotic aspect of Humungus’ tribe, but it is the most obvious. While Max is eating dog food and watching the warring tribes from the ridge, Humungus can be heard commanding “Smegma Crazies to the left. The gate! Gayboy Berserkers to the gate.”

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These two lines, barely audible in the movie, provide a little extra context when set against costume design. The Road Warrior’s costume department divided Smegma Crazies and Gayboy Berserkers into two distinct styles. Smegma Crazies wear tan jumpsuits, hides, and masks. Gayboy Berserkers wear police outfits, like Max’s uniform. Other members of the Humungus tribe wear black leather bondage gear.  Additionally, while the main Humungus force drives muscle cars, Smegma Crazies drive carts and Gayboy Berserkers drive looted police cars.

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What does this little detail add to the story? That depends on how you look at it. Some have theorized Smegma Crazies and Gayboy Berserkers are two separate tribes dominated by Lord Humungus. Others say they’re just ranks within the tribe. George Miller is a stickler for little details. The script could have had these characters listed as anything (Wallabeaters, Madboys, etc), but ultimately, we got Gayboys and Smegma Crazies. This tiny detail, combined with Wez’s relationship to The Golden Youth, raises the question as to whether the entire Humungus tribe is homosexual.

I tend to think that, following the post-societal deterioration of gender roles, the Humungus tribe will probably act on any sexual gratification they can get. For example, when Papagallo sends scouts into the wasteland, the couple are immediately captured and raped by the marauders. Similarly, although it may seem that Humungus’ tribe is made entirely of men there’s a handful of female marauders in the background of Humungus’ introduction.

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If there was any doubt, there’s also the infamous “tent scene” where the presence of women in the Humungus Tribe is undeniable. These details might lend some credibility to the theory claiming Gayboys and Smegma Crazies were added to Humungus’ fold after the initial founding. Since gender roles only fell apart after the fall of society and since Gayboys and Smegma Crazies are based on military and police, it stands to reason those tribes would be exclusively male and (as their name implies) homosexual.

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Standard Humungus Marauders

So what about the bondage gear? While it might serve to subtly separate Humungus’ main force from the sub-tribes, it seems to be a product of the costume designer, rather than the writers. As the story goes, costume designer Norma Moriceau got her inspiration for the Humungus Tribe’s costumes by living next to an S&M shop. Because of that anecdote, whether these outfits say anything about the tribe or if they’re just an odd piece of inspiration seems a little ambiguous, especially since Papagallo’s mechanic also wears studded leather. However, because The Road Warrior defined a genre, it led to the rise of fetish clothing and homosexual marauders in the post-apocalyptic setting.

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As I’ve often said, The Road Warrior spawned a slew of b-movies trying a cash in on its success. We recently looked at Warriors of the Wasteland, where the antagonists were an explicitly homosexual tribe of nihilist men bent on ending all human life. This twist on Humungus’ tribe adds an abstract element of decay to idea of post-apocalyptic raiders.

By their nature, raiders only destroy. They are vultures, feeding off the old world without putting anything into it. Once the last can of dog food is gone, once the last settlers are tortured and killed, once the last can of guzzolene used up, they will have nothing left. This specific type of raider, first popularized by The Road Warrior, actively seeks to eliminate any chance of human reconstruction. If, as in the case of Warriors of the Wasteland, these raiders are also incapable of reproduction, they become symbolic of horsemen (or motorcyclists) of the apocalypse, looting and murdering until the entire planet is dead.

Do the Smegma Crazies and Gayboy Berserkers matter? Why include such a small detail? Tell us in the comments!

What is MUTATION: The Wasteland Survival Guide?

MUTATION: The Wasteland Survival guide is a six episode long series exploring the quirky and unusual world of MUTATION, as seen in The Journal of Joe Junkman. The show itself documents the writing of the Mo-Javi Wasteland’s very first survival guide. Charged with writing this book is wasteland legend James Gray and local shyster Joe Junkman. Throughout their journey, our heroes will struggle with radioactive dust storms, water scarcity, and each other.


I want to break character for a moment to say how excited I am to be moving forward with this project. The world of MUTATION has gone through a lot of change since its conception. What originally began as a pen and paper RPG has transformed into serial fiction, a website, and a show. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

To make a long story short, Ben and I got together in the summer of 2015 and began brainstorming ideas for this short series. Although we have all the footage, brainstorming was about as far as it got. It seems embarrassing now, but we didn’t have a script or anything. Essentially, we had a concept for each episode and a location. For better or worse, almost every scene is improvisational.

When I first established this website, I had no idea what the response would be. These past few months, I’ve been consistently amazed at the hospitality and support I’ve received from the online post-apocalyptic tribe. Thank you for giving us a chance and following our stories week after week.

I’d also like to announce at this time that Ben and I are planning to attend Wasteland Weekend this year! I’ll be in character as James Gray and I believe Ben will appear as Joe Junkman.

We hope to see some of you there! The Rad-Lands wouldn’t be here without you.

-Ron Welch

We Are Not Things: Commodities of the Citadel

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Mad Max: Fury Road had a lot of memorable catchphrases, but one of them transcended becoming a meme and instead appealed directly to one of the film’s overarching themes. Written inside Five Wives’ vault was “WE ARE NOT THINGS”.  The audience immediately relates this phrase to the wives’ role as breeders. However, by looking at the whole of Immortan Joe’s society, as well as some small details from the Fury Road comics, it can be seen that this phrase applies to every resident of The Citadel.

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War Boys are the heart of Immortan Joe’s society and exist solely to die for their leader. War Pups are seen powering The Citadel’s elevator and the comics show that parents must give their children away to be raised solely by full grown War Boys. Reinforcing their utterly disposable nature, the majority of these warriors have cancer and will “kamakrazee” themselves in grim situations. Like their iconic thunder-sticks, War Boys are merely weapons to be thrown away.

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Immortan Joe’s religion, The Cult of the V8, keeps his men in check. Because the religion revolves around reaching Valhalla (traditionally a warrior’s paradise), War Boys are not only willing, but encouraged to die in an exciting manner. This raises the question as to what Immortan Joe meant when he claimed he would personally carry Nux to the gates of Valhalla.

mad-max-fury-road-nux-scars-v8-engine-230x300Interestingly, Nux (and others like him) could be identified as a mechanic without speaking a single line, due to the engine block engraved on his chest. Immortan Joe doesn’t need to know the names or proficiencies of his men as they have already been marked for convenience. All these aspects combine to demonstrate at War Boys are designed as things, inevitably doomed and easily replaceable.

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Because the focus of Fury Road is the action, it is easy to overlook the background details that brought The Citadel to life. Although mother’s milk is mentioned several times and gets a few minutes of screen time, its larger implication is left to the audience. Milkers are effectively high profile slaves, enjoying the luxury of the Citadel’s throne room, but always attached to their machines. Immortan Joe uses these women as factories, a thing that convert vegetables and water into high calorie nutrients, nothing more.

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Expanding on the theme of Immortan Joe’s followers being things is the Organic Mechanic. Merely the title of The Citadel’s only doctor demonstrates that War Boys are no different than a car: a tool that can be broken, fixed, and refueled. Although we don’t see much of the Organic Mechanic, we do see his methods. In Immortan Joe’s society, even enemies are recycled into resources. Road warriors and ferals being transformed into living blood bags once again reflects the theme of people becoming things; not just specialized workers, but actual commodities to be used up.

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The History Men are intriguing, but rarely used. Miss Giddy, Five Wives’ teacher, had several of her scenes removed. Although the History Men serve as a framing device for the Fury Road comics, it is worth mentioning that they were not present at all in the Mad Max video game. The History Men reflect a breakdown of the self to preserve humanity, wearing hundreds of permanent tattoos to remind themselves about the old world. History Men tell stories and serve as teachers and advisors to the powerful, but despite their wisdom they have become a thing as well. The difference between Miss Giddy and the others in Immortan Joe’s realm is that the History Men are willing participants sought all across the wasteland while War Boys and Milkers are victims of conquest.

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Finally, there are the five wives themselves. Similar to a fairy-tale, these women have been trapped in a tower, far away from the sick and irradiated wasteland peasants. According to the Furiosa comic, Immortan Joe affords his wives entertainment, books, and Miss Giddy. Already, we see that the wives are not specialized in the same manner as The Citadel’s other denizens. Indeed, Five Wives are taught Greek, a language which would otherwise be lost in post-apocalyptic Australia. Although each of these women hold the title of Breeder, they are far more than that. They sing, they play piano, they speak forgotten languages, they know of past failures and dream of creating a better world from the ashes of the old.

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Despite being more well rounded than the other servants, Five Wives are still things within The Citadel’s society. The Immortan even goes so far as to say that Angharad’s child is his property. Outwardly, it appears that Joe is merely using the wives as a means to his ultimate goal of having a healthy male heir. However, one line from the Furiosa comic has always stuck with me. Toast the Knowing says “Not like me. Where he puts it, there’ll be no babies.

No matter how you look at it, Immortan Joe uses the wives for more than just breeding. Indeed, one panel of the Furiosa comic includes the wives collectively playing music for him. Again, this distinctly separates these women from becoming their title. Whether Joe has any deep feelings towards his wives or merely cares about the child is left ambiguous.

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There was another odd statement from the Furiosa comic. The narrator states that “He [Immortan Joe] gave them…knowledge and knowledge has a way of igniting dissent and inciting revolution.” The Immortan is not stupid. His entire society is built around appearing as a God and keeping his subjects in the dark. In the comic, Joe outwardly states his suspicion of Miss Giddy, but does nothing to stop her. It raises the question as to why he would give the wives Miss Giddy when it would certainly lead to his own downfall. Had Joe merely treated the breeders as he treats the Milk Maids or the War Boys, he would never have faced betrayal or death.  Yet neither the comics nor the movie have a good answer to this question, despite that both were written by George Miller.

Immortan Joe turns everyone he meets into a thing, specializing each person until they become a commodity. Wasteland peasants dream of ascending to The Citadel’s barracks, but they don’t realize that they will be transformed into cogs (albeit well-fed) in the Immortan’s great machine. Five Wives were the exception; they were allowed to be more than specialized cogs, yet that allowance ultimately caused the Immortan’s downfall.

Why did Joe give Five Wives the History Woman despite being suspicious of her teachings? Tell us in the comments!

Edit: I want to thank Evan (@fromthewastes) for helping me give this article direction. At first it was just a jumbled wordburger, but with a little help it raises some interesting questions.

The Little Details That Make Mad Max Great

The Mad Max game (2015) is loaded with small details that make the world feel like a living breathing entity. The wasteland is full of lore and history which shows in every area. Everything in the environment was placed with gentle care. Quest items are hinted at through decorations in the world. To illustrate this, I’ve collected the top five small details that make Mad Max great.

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  1. Thrall Rustlers: Slavery plays a big part in the wasteland. A handful of main characters are slaves. Nearly every camp has slave cages. The player hears a lot of discussion about the slave trade, yet there aren’t slave caravans or opportunities to free slaves in the game. What there is however, is a very interesting idea.
    They only appear in one mission before Max wipes them out, but the Thrall Rustlers have a very cool concept. A slaving guild that only kidnaps people with strange deformities or useful skills. Had this been developed a bit more, this could have been an impressive faction.
    For the Thrall Rustlers quest, I would have enjoyed seeing Max use Chumbucket as bait (since he is a renowned mechanic with a deformity), then follow the slavers to their hideout. This would also better establish the relationship between Max and Chum. There was a lot of opportunity in this quest for something really interesting, if only it had been given an extra push.

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  1. Christmas in Underdune: Upon driving into the legendary Underdune for the first time, I was floored by the amount of detail. The player is tasked with getting a garland of electric lights from this buried airport. What’s impressive is that it’s not without reason. There is a logical explanation as to why there are electric lights in Underdune.
    It was Christmas time before the fall. The player can recognize this as soon as they enter the airport’s largest cavern. The lobby is decorated with hanging metal wreathes, long ago stripped of their leaves, but still identifiable because of the ribbons hanging from their bases. There’s also a large golden star hanging from the ceiling in that same cavern.
    It’s one thing to send players into a deathtrap for a McGuffin, it’s another to let them know why the item is there. This is great environmental storytelling.

 

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Most toilets are situated on a ledge, adding to the realistic feel.

 

  1. Livable Camps: Every camp in the wasteland looks like a place that people could realistically live in. Care was taken to add animals cages, beds, toilets, and knick knacks to every single location. Again, the world doesn’t just feel lived in, it feels alive. At certain locations (specifically scavenger locations in Dump), Warboys can be seen gazing upon the landscape or resting in their beds. Unlike the raiders in Fallout 3, who are on constant patrol for enemies, the Warboys in Mad Max have duties (though small and scripted) beyond waiting for the player to show up. It’s a small detail, but it brings the world to life.

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  1. Max’s Leg: You can’t have Mad Max without his iconic leg brace. Avalanche took great care with this seemingly tiny detail. When Max falls from a great height, he struggles to walk for a few dozen steps. The farther Max falls, the greater his injury. During my last playthrough, Max fell down a slope somewhere in Gutgash territory. When he finally stood up, I realized he was actually holding his brace and was unable to move for a few seconds. This tiny detail adds a lot of character, separating Max from other generic characters. Knowing that someone took the time to animate Max holding his leg, the player can tell that a lot of love went into this game.

 

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5. Language: I’ve often thought what separates good fiction from great fiction is in-universe language and phrases. Tolkien created the Elven language for the world of Middle Earth. Frank Herbert included a glossary with Dune. Likewise, the Mad Max game reflects a world where society has collapsed and formal education is a myth. Phrases become muddled. Letters and numbers disappear as tribal cultures takes over the wasteland.

Occasionally while passing a balloon, Chumbucket will say (and this is reflected in the subtitles) “Look! A Hoddarballoon!” This is a great and subtle example of a fluid wasteland language. Chumbucket has never seen the words “hot air balloon” in writing, he only imitates what others have said until the three words become one muddled idea. This is just one instance of how the developers changed language in Mad Max; combined with other terms like “Kamakrazee” and “Lighties,” the player understand that this world is not the same Max was born into.

Furthering the collapse of the English language in the Wasteland, the player will notice that written language has been replaced with hieroglyphics. Carved into a flatscreen in Deep Friah’s temple is a sacred location described through pictures. This is the first of several treasure hunts involving pictures. During other quests, Max will hunt for treasure using images of the old world, rather than specific locations. Written English only exists on crumpled photographs and weathered road signs. This is surprisingly effective in building the theme that the civilized world is gone forever.

Did you see know any other small details in the Mad Max game? If so, please share in the comments section!

Show, Don’t Tell: Scarcity in Mad Max

Resource management is nothing new to video games. Survival games and RPGs have had players carefully manage their supplies for over a decade. However, Mad Max (2015) took that concept and ran it in a completely new direction. In the Mad Max franchise, the oceans have dried up, crops have withered, and the great machine of society has sputtered until it finally ground to a halt. The future belongs to those who control the last precious drops of water and guzzolene. By giving glimpses of a backstory and making resource management an integral part of the gameplay, Mad Max makes players fear scarcity both in the game and reality.

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In Mad Max, the player can only be healed by drinking water or eating food. Water is kept in an accessible canteen, but food can only be used once and always consists of either wild animals, canned dog food, or corpse maggots. Since the local warlord has deployed hundreds of his men into the dried seabed, Max will need to heal quite often. This gives the player a sense of risk over reward: they could waste their precious water to heal or they could explore the enemy camp a bit longer and hope they find some food before a murderous war-boy finds them.

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Your car runs out of gas in the tutorial missions, but that will probably be the only time.

Fitting with the theme of scarcity, all cars in Mad Max run on guzzolene. Some cars are more gluttonous than others and the player is required to keep their vehicles well fed or else be run down by the warlord’s convoys. In this post-society world, those without a car are quickly made into slaves or fertilizer for the maggot farms. Two aspects of gameplay can give the player pause when using guzzolene. The first is that occasionally Max must sacrifice a can of fuel to be used as a bomb. The second is that a major part of the story involves Max traveling from camp to camp, destroying the local warlord’s oil rigs. It’s explained that this is done so there’s no reason for the warlord’s minions to come back.
In a future where those with gas rule, it seems foolish to destroy multiple oil rigs and crude oil stockpiles, rather than to take control of them; especially when you consider that Fury Road’s opening narration established the oil wars by saying “We are killing each other over guzzolene.” Perhaps it was intentional that Max declares war on the oil producers of the new world, as if to show history repeating itself even in the post-apocalyptic age.

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Fallout 3’s Springvale: an untouched opportunity across the street from Megaton.

Compared to Bethesda’s Fallout games, one of the great things about Mad Max is that the world feels like people have been living in it. In Fallout 3, 200 years have passed since atomic fire and nobody in Megaton has bothered to scavenge the neighborhood across the street. For 200 years food, supplies, weapons, and building materials were just waiting to be found. In Mad Max, survivors have produced methods for collecting water and generating food.Scavengers go out into the drained seabed hoping to find a rare shipping container packed with canned goods. The world feels alive and lived in, something that has always been a hallmark of the Mad Max franchise.

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Playing the game for the first time, those new to the franchise might think that Mad Max takes place in a horrific sci-fi world of endless sand, like Arrakis in Dune. However, to the game’s benefit, one of the major collectibles in Mad Max are “history relics”. These items take the form of either pieces of cardboard with writing on them or photographs with messages written on the back of them. Max will speak about certain items, providing context either for the post-apocalyptic world or how the times before The Fall relate to present moment and Max’s state of mind.

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This handwritten touch adds a lot that reading a wall of green text in Fallout 3 doesn’t.

When looking at a picture of a lake Max will say “So much water. It seems wasteful now.” Likewise, when looking at a picture of barbecued meat, Max will say (with a hint of disgust in his voice) “We ate our fill and threw out the rest.”
None of the characters in the Mad Max game care about the old times. Many wastelanders were born into the new world and don’t know anything else. The soft exposition does a good job of informing  both completionist players and those who know more, without detracting from the primary quests.  These small cues combined with the resource based gameplay cause the player to consider the scarcity of our own world. Ultimately, the gameplay and the backstory combine to form a warning, even if the player doesn’t immediately recognize it.

The Mad Max game forms a subtle subtext that directly relate to the game’s world and our own, rather than making blanket statements against the lifestyle of a consumer based economy. This is surprisingly well done because Max isn’t warning about what might happen, he merely explains what has already happened in his world. Every person Max finds a picture of is dead. reflecting the loss of his own family (the first relic in the game is a picture of Max’s family).

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Unfortunately, as Max becomes more powerful, the feeling of being in a dying world wears off. Max is given the opportunity to upgrade his own abilities and the fortresses of his allies. Through spiritual experiences, Max can dramatically increase the amount of water he finds and the fuel efficiency of his car (making guzzolene only useful as a bomb toward the end game). By upgrading fortresses, Max is treated to a variety of benefits every time he returns to a quest hub: Full health, a full tank of gas, a full bandolier of shotgun shells, and a full canteen of water. Although this makes the world feel alive and gives the player hope for a better future, it feels wrong to allow Max to have the maximum amount of equipment at all times in a world where most people have nothing.

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It’s great to see a fortress grow into a village, but the gameplay rewards interrupt the tone.

Every post-apocalyptic scenario deals with scarcity in some form be it women (A Boy and His Dog), water (Fallout), or even life itself (The Road). The Mad Max game takes both the concept of resource management and post-apocalyptic scarcity and molds it into something new. Mad Max doesn’t give endless exposition to say how scarce everything is. Instead, (at least for the first few hours) it throws the player into an inhospitable world and tells them to survive. Combined with commentary and images of the old world, this game produces a surprisingly effective rhetoric that causes players to at least reflect on their current lifestyle, even if they don’t realize it.

Does providing players with unlimited resources support or detract from the scarcity based game play? Tell us in the comments!

How Mad Max 2 Defined a Genre

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How can you talk about post-nuclear fiction without talking about Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior? Director George Miller set the tone of an entire genre with his high octane sequel, but the truth is that Mad Max 2 is not a post-nuclear film. The first two films showcased crumbling and inevitable downfall of society, but it was not until Beyond Thunderdome that the theme of post-nuclear survival came into play.

The original Mad Max chronicled the downfall of society. Gang members from the dying cities fled into the Australian outback, feasting on their fellow men while cops tried to uphold some semblance of law.  There was no mention of radiation, mutation, or fallout.  Likewise, the opening narration of Mad Max 2 did not include any mention of nuclear weapons either, but rather, “Without fuel they (the great tribes) were nothing. They build a house of straw. The thundering machine sputtered and stopped”.  Originally, the world of Mad Max was about an energy crises that caused all cities to stop and fall apart. The Road Warrior follows up on that, telling what happens when society has collapsed and those who escaped the cities form tribes just to stay alive.

The factions of Mad Max 2 forever changed how writers approached post-apocalyptic fiction. The Road Warrior normalized four distinct archetypes that would appear in the majority of other post-apocalyptic works. Those are:

  • The Peaceful Settlers
  • The Sadistic Bandits
  • The Lone Wanderer
  • The Feral Future.

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Pappagallo represents the peaceful tribe. He and his people are the common settler’s seen in the majority of post-nuclear fiction. These archetypal factions don’t try to rebuild an image of the past. Rather, they carve their place out of the new world. What separates this archetype from scavengers is that they grow a community and build with what they have. The opening narration of Mad Max 2 says that food became scarce, but we see chickens running around Pappagallo’s village. The settlers do not hope to find that last can of dog food, instead they build upward. They are humanity’s last hope.

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The Lord Humungus and his bikers set the tone for all villains in both future post-apocalyptic movies and crime movies. They are like the Harkonnen in Dune or The Empire in Star Wars, villains who are 100% evil (or are they) so that the audience has someone to root against. Despite being an ancient cliché, it works. An audience is far more likely to sympathize with an emotionally distant protagonist (like Max) if their antagonists are utterly monstrous.

The bikers in Mad Max 2 represent something deeper in the archetypes of post-apocalyptic fiction. Humungus and his clan are vultures, feeding off the old world without putting anything into it. Once the last can of dog food is gone, once the last settlers are tortured and killed, once the last can of guzzolene used up, they will have nothing left. The bandits in post-apocalyptic fiction function on a pillage economy. The problem is that -as the Roman Empire feared- once you conquer the whole world, you will collapse.

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Max Rockatansky is the lone wanderer, a self-interested loner who clings to memories of the past. Throughout every Mad Max film, Max begins as little more than a wandering mercenary, but his history as an ex-cop kicks in and he willingly charges into the fray to defeat a great evil. On the surface, there is little difference between the vulture-like bandits and the scavenger. Yet the lone wanderer archetype is something more. Like a mysterious stranger in a western, Max appears at a tribe’s darkest hour and once they are out of harm’s way, he disappears again as though he were never there.

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Finally, there is the feral future. The feral kid is symbolic of the future of mankind after the downfall of society: ape-like, savage, and brutal. Feral kid shows what happens when we abandon all technology and start over; returning to an age of hunting and gathering, living off the fruit of the Earth rather than building upon it. Yet there was hope for this child, he was taken by Pappagallo’s tribe, became a man, and eventually a leader. So long as skills and stories of the old times are passed down, mankind’s fire will never die, even if it is momentarily reduced to embers.

On the surface, Mad Max 2 is a standard action movie with interesting visuals and incredible stunts, but there’s more to it than that. The Road Warrior defined a genre without actually being a part of that genre. It is the story of a man looking for gasoline, but it is more than that. It is a story about the choices we make after the downfall of society. Nearly every post-apocalyptic story travels at least one of these four roads. Do we carve a new life from the old? Do we feast on the world until there is nothing left? Do we help those in need, taking anything they can offer? Or do we return to our roots and start from scratch?