Recently I had the pleasure of watching the first two Mad Max movies—and the third one, which was okay I guess. Having seen the originals, I have a better appreciation now of the more critical responses to last current year’s Mad Max: Fury Road from the alt-right and other edgy places. Gone is our goyish hero, Mel “The Christ-Killer Thriller” Gibson, whose successor is demoted to a co-star along with a bald battle grrl. Just isn’t the same feeling really. On the other hand, the between-the-lines way the film presents gender roles and remains focused on survival as the central tenet of Max’s behavior means it easily outclasses much of last current year’s lefty garbage movies. We see that men and women need to work together; Amazons die out. And at the end we also see that Max abandons the female conquerors of the Citadel to their own doomed-to-fail devices; he knows and it is implied to the audience that it will not be a happy ending. But Jurassic World still takes the top pick for goyish movie of the year. Though I liked Fury Road, it’s basically a remake of The Road Warrior with better special effects and more ornate and insane villains. And villains are important.
While (in the Australian releases at least) the movies are all named after Max, the cool and collected badass who can survive any fight and conquer any natural or man-made obstacle, it’s really the villains who define each movie and make it more than just watching an action flick or someone playing a violent video game. Why do we care what happens to Max and want to root for him in the first place if not because of the antagonists? In my opinion, the first two movies, Mad Max and The Road Warrior, do the best job of making you absolutely hate the antagonists, especially the latter. Because every conflict has at least two parties, if you care enough to watch you must prefer one to the other. Getting people to care about things is its own art form.
In Mad Max, Max is a cop who fights a gang of drugged-out sadistic bikers who rape, murder and steal without rhyme or reason. To be sure, it is a dystopian world, one where only the police can keep savagery in check, but not as apocalyptic as in The Road Warrior or Fury Road. Toecutter’s gang are that savagery—latter-day barbarians on motorcycles. That the world the audience knew had sort of ended was only necessary to explain why such a gang existed. Only a world where order is fragile could enable them. As these villains are depicted, we don’t hate them for their ideology, their race, their religion, or some other parameter; we hate them for being barbarians. They are universally evil for doing deeds anyone would find reprehensible, rather than ideological foils to the hero like the Nazi ripoffs that characterize a lot of films’ antagonists.
But in order to defeat the bikers and avenge himself, Max had to adopt their methods. He races Toecutter down the highway and drives him into an oncoming truck, causing him to crash and burn. And in the final scene, he cuffs the gang member responsible for gruesomely burning his partner alive to a car wreck crudely rigged to explode. Max hands his enemy a hacksaw, telling him he could try to saw through his chains but that sawing off his ankle would be faster (the gang had previously cut off his wife’s arm and killed their baby). Despite the savagery, the movie ends with the satisfaction that justice has been dealt and dealt hard. Evil people have been excised from the world using their own methods.
The Road Warrior dials everything up a notch and features a more fleshed-out plot while preserving the core elements of the brand. The primordial animal impulse of survival is augmented with one of its more human conclusions, perimeter defense. In the wasteland, a prewar oil well functions as an oasis for civilized people. But of course, beyond the scraped-together stockade surrounding the guzzoline supply, barbarians lurk. Just as before, they rape, murder and pillage, but in the increasingly inhospitable wasteland they’ve become even more twisted and sadistic.
What’s worse than rapey barbarians? Rapey barbarians in leather bondage outfits who want to take away the resources you need to survive.
Charismatic, insane and eerily wacky, the villains of The Road Warrior are explicitly demarcated. They are a tribe of pure and primal evil. Unlike in last current year's Fury Road, there’s no complicated caste system or social organization to the raiders of The Road Warrior. We aren’t made to dislike them for keeping women as chattel, monopolizing all of the water supply, or using slaves as blood livestock. We aren’t distracted by allusions to pre-medieval patriarchy or holy war. We are made to dislike them because they rape, murder and steal and are sick-looking. No ideology. Just barbarism. There’s no question that we are supposed to root for Max and empathize with the settlers—even though said settlers were initially portrayed as an obstacle to the hero—while we cheer on the destruction of the barbarians. There is a satisfying sense of schadenfreude when they are violently and explosively outwitted; they were written to deserve it. Just as in the first movie, the viewer sees cruel but necessary justice dealt by any means necessary.
It makes for a great movie, and the message of destroying evil combined with doing what it takes to survive is a powerful and important one. But it is only a movie, and in reality the evil that exists in our world is hardly like Toecutter’s gang or Lord Humungus. Or Immortan Joe for that matter, though I’m inclined to view him as more of a gray antagonist than a black-&-white one. Max lives in simpler times and with savvier people. Immediacy will do that.
Most evil in this world is not short-fuse but long. The people who threaten us and our survival do so through extremely different means and forms from those we see on the Silverstein screen, though the end will be the same. They don’t go out of their way to appear sadistic and psychotic. Instead, they present themselves as legitimate and authoritative. And there’s no amount of guzzoline we can give them to get them off our back either. No one has come to us bearing arms and given us a speech about what their demands are and how we can comply. This makes it all the harder to muster resistance; we don’t immediately see our dispossession for what it is and it is often sold to us quite shamelessly as something that is either a moral good or an economic benefit.
Could the villains of Mad Max have ever presented themselves in such a way? No, they are entirely straightforward and un-Machiavellian—we will rape, kill and rob you unless you stop us. That’s not the long-term implication of violence, it is the outright threat backed up with easily verified examples. It’s a lot harder to get people to care about villains who are less overt and less aggressive, even if they are ultimately pursuing the same goals as the overt and aggressive. But that sort of caring is precisely our job as White nationalists.
Our enemies are playing a long-fuse game and we need to start smelling the burning rope. Only then can we take them on in the thunderdome. Metaphorically, of course.