The Road Warrior : Last Relic of a Postmodern World

The Road Warrior, 1981

I was thinking tonight how great movies and tropes of our past seem meaningless to the generations today. Strange how Mel Gibson’s classic performance as the quintessential dark hero in the Road Warrior cannot be grasped or understood at all in today’s Metamodern, groupthink generation.

It seems so out of place, vulgar, and violent when seeing it after so many years. In 2019 it seems but a landmark on an old road we all once travelled yet cannot recognize. Strange how time moves on and leaves movies like this that once felt so common now so odd and out of place in today’s PC culture.

Rotten Tomatoes approval rating by thousands of viewers is still 95%. So this is not to condemn The Road Warrior. It’s simply to say that it’s a popular Postmodern movie still, yet when compared to today’s sarcasm in movies, still feel completely alien to the mindset and morality of 2019. How time twists our minds into new and unusual shapes and shows us the adventure of yesterday was but immorality today.

Yet watching this dark and violent, Postmodern dystopia again this weekend has me thinking how generations over so many ages of time rethink their own realities and life’s strange purpose once channeled towards a more spiritual bent can be transformed years later into more shallow commercialized pursuits. Today’s film seems so packaged and safe and stripped of purpose as if meaning is to be laughed at in film. In 1981 we thrived on meaning. Such a serious time. Today, nothing holds meaning or value beyond the search for some cultural ones ness and acceptance, the safety of society itself. The opposite in 1981. The Rugged Individual against the world was king!

In 1981, America was in the depths of its most violent and drug addicted period in over 200 years. Per capita murder rates in America were averaging 200-300 a year in most major American cities. A third of most kids in highschool we’re taking some type of drug I read…..qualudes being the most popular in 1981 this article said. Violent movies, without a shred of sarcasm, humor, or slapstick (like we see in so many movies in 2019) wasn’t there for us. We thrived on the immediacy of serious drama, vulgarity, and violence in movies.

All that’s completely gone today.

It makes me think about the idea of the Hero. Why has it no meaning for kids today? Have we lost faith in the hero? The tragic hero filled Greek, Roman, and Western literature and plays for hundreds of years, but to be reinvented again in our culture. The idea of the dark hero is the same theme but reversed in Celtic culture, which is England and European culture as well. (I talk about this in my Youtube Mythopoeia lectures, by the way). The hero was real, was embraced, was repeated over and over again. Even as Christianity in the West transformed the hero into a morality tale, it still had meaning.

That’s why we seem to have embraced the Dark Hero the past 50 years…..Darth Vader, Batman, Mad Max….too many to name. In 1981 we needed a good hero that yet was stripped of good deeds but embraced the violent culture of the Baby Boomers. Today those dark tropes are nearly dead. Why

I read that the power of The Road Warrior derived it’s meaning directly from Mythology and the more ancient view of the Western Hero. In fact the directors read Joseph Campbell’s famous book, “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”, when they wrote the story behind the Road Warrior, the very same book George Lucas read when he wrote and directed Star Wars (1977).

Mythology seems to be the key to blockbuster success….yet today young directors seem to reject that view. For our film seems devoid of myth and purpose. The hero is but a jokester, like Loki of Viking myth. They reject mythology because it does not derive from science and fact. It therefore cannot be grasped or understood just like The Road Warrior.

My point is there may be a rejection of history by so many today. In doing so kids are losing their soul and losing a connection to another side of life and living.

It must be true that many high production films continue to flop, even the latest Star Wars bombed on many levels, precisely because American culture has lost touch with its Heroes. It’s stripped meaning and spiritual reflection in film. And it’s that rejection of ignorance of ourselves, our darker selves…..the Mad Max, the brutal survivalist and hero inside ourselves, that’s now eating away at our culture and it’s vital spirit. And that is why the Road Warrior is such an important film to me.

For the Dark Hero was who we all once cherished, 38 years ago. It represents the heroic idea of what good is left in Mankind that yet can persevere against evil and the world of evil men, even in its darkest form. But in 1981 we still knew the difference between good and evil in film.

Maybe not so much today because we are afraid of our selves once more. We are afraid of the warrior in us…..the one capable of dark paths but more so holding a candle to our goodness and separating itself from the shades of gray persona that is so ever-present in 2019 character development.

This isn’t to condemn the present and glorify the past as to help young people realize that fiction isn’t always about how we all fit or don’t fit into social norms and politically correct moments. It isn’t always a about the current society you embrace as it is about you…..your spirit and your mind’s awakening separate from the culture you live in. Yet to create that moment takes rugged individual awakened by rebellious creative types; artists that defy the cultural norms. We have lost that today. Sad. And I wonder why…

That’s so much what 1981 had we lost in 2019….. the ability to use film and books as but a mirror on the soul. Our own soul. And it’s my hope that artistic works and strange alien views of life, such as the dark dystopian views in the Road Warrior, can teach us that today’s views by young people isn’t all there is in the Universe. There’s a vast wealth of alternative ideas about life and one’s place in the world if you but open yourself – often your darker self – to the Mythology that still exists in great old film and books that once grasped Ancient Mythology in a grand modern moment. It’s that moment that taught us something about ourselves.

– the Author



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