Mad Max: Beyond the Dunderdome

Greetings fellow dunderheads. And grim tidings.

We been slack and the repercussions are no longer hiding.

Most of us love us some Road Warrior, or Mad Max, Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, or maybe even Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. And what’s not to like? The setting and context transport us to a desolate afterworld that postdates us, comes along later, our absolution baked in.

There’s never a lot of talk about how we get there. The world simply becomes a hardly inhabitable, post-apocalyptic wasteland brought on by a systemic regimen of ecocide and a nuclear war over the dwindling resources (where, curiously—persons of color—in this case Australian aborigines, have no serious presence even though the entire Mad Max run is filmed in Australia!?).

You and I aren’t in the credits, but let’s not kid ourselves. The plot line for every iteration of the Mad Max movies has already begun.

You and I, we—us. We have pivotal, supporting roles.

We’re creating the before with every increasingly labored breath and every continued false step. We’re way past the prologue. We inhabit the little-explained, early backstory. We are the living precedent. The characters in the Mad Max films are simply navigating the after.

The pit-faced, cold-blooded rush on petrol has already begun. And fresh water.

We’re becoming more clannish and mistrusting. Chronically xenophobic. Definitely tribal.

We’re already more savage. We hiss at the growing homeless population. We pity the profit-mongers more than the poor or the myriad victims of the precursors of Immortan Joe, Dementus, or the earlier Lord Humungus. Capitalism requires a bad guy, an enemy or, ultimately, a denigrated “other” that can be openly and clandestinely exploited. And we can’t have the enemy being the entity behind the lucrative enterprises we are privileged to serve as dutiful cogs in. We do what we’re told. We don’t ask questions. Doubt might demand soul searching or have us reconsider our soullessness. It might even require us to be brave.

We’re not.

We already have some sense of this. It’s cliché, really.

We care more about our own self-preservation and personal comforts than our collective survival. We are a smirky gaggle of short-sighted miscreants more worried about retirement than reality and especially the future reality our descendants will inherit. Which is great news for gaming outfits and online streaming services.

The virtual world is an ingenious, uber-addictive escape. It’s about the only place we still have any real control. And we know more about our favorite characters on Netflix than we do about our neighbors or our own children—who were weaned on the same streaming services that we now rely on to decompress or vegetate.

We exist in a meticulously constructed and carefully monitored “dunderdome,” oblivious to the consequences of our apathy and willful ignorance.

A terrifying, unavoidable reckoning is already bearing down on us, of course. And bypassing the signs of the calamities to come are the occupation of the odious and reprehensible. But few of us know what either word means.  We’re 21st century troglodytes—a disgrace to our species.

We don’t care.

Disregarding our culpability obviously demands the abandonment of all conscience and decency, but even our binary political system is a sycophantic accomplice in plain sight. Our pep rally politics have utterly failed us. Pointing a finger in either direction is a half-measure because both roads lead to Rome. Both parties are well-polished sides of the same coin, and as long as the coin spends, we, again, don’t care. In fact, we prefer pandering spin that promotes and glorifies our spending rather than forthrightness or honesty.

The “pox-eclipse” has already started and there will be no “Tomorrow-Morrow Land.” In this coming November’s Dunderdome, we will chant “two men enter, one man leaves”—but we know they will both leave.

It’s all theater.

The spectacle masks the corporatocracy that pays for the stage. Our ambivalence and ambition doom the age.

Dr. Dealgood said it best: “Dyin’ time’s here.”

Welcome to the Dunderdome.


Fort Worth native E. R. Bills is the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional & Nefarious and Tell-Tale Texas: Investigations in Infamous History. Read other articles by E.R..