Max and Eli;
On The Road and At The Movies

A Look at the Differences and Similarities between The Road Warrior and The Book of Eli,
2 Post-Apocalyptic Cinematic Visions Separated by 29 Years

by Jerry A. Sierra

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Three Decades of Change

Consider the sociopolitical changes that occurred in the 29 years between these movies; the appearance of the Internet, digital technology and all that goes with it--Google, Netflix, smart phones, social media, texting, sex-ting, GPS, selfies, online dating, loss of privacy, etc.

And then there’s cloning, climate change, Viagra, the Hubble telescope, reality TV and 24-hour cable, super-size meals (in the late 70’s 15% of us were overweight, now its 35%) and legal marijuana.

In this time period, China became a superpower and American education systems started failing at a much higher rate than they succeeded. We had more news-reporters and less news, since most news departments are now owned by a few conglomerates, and a new celebrity culture, tailor-made for the corporate news outlets, kept us busy between shopping cycles.

We saw American buildings knocked down by terrorists and American Presidents look straight at TV cameras to lie. We experienced what may be the loss of consumer protection at almost every level, and witnessed the implementation of “too big to fail” ideology that protects the very-rich-few from the very-poor-many. After the collapse of the housing and financial markets, the government bailed out big conglomerates, and left “individuals” to fend for themselves.

Today America is no longer a world leader except in military spending and percentage of jailed population.

Book of Eli poster

The emergence of the new American right-wing and the crippling of the country’s subtle left-wing ideology (the “all men are created equal” part) pushed us into a survival-of-the-fittest stance that affects every aspect of our lives. In our world, as in both movies, all men are NOT created equal; the new weapons of choice, education and privilege, are carefully divided among the lucky few.

In this new reality, supplanting gasoline with a bible becomes a plausible option. We can believe that a bible may be just as valuable in an emerging post-apocalyptic society as fuel was in the days of the middle class, but can holy words run your machines?

We elected the first African American president, and 2.5 years after receiving an unwarranted Nobel Peace Prize, that president was dropping bombs on 5 different Muslim countries; Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen.

At the same time, the race relations embraced by a new American conservatism are very different from the “love your neighbor” ideology of the bible, and perhaps a reason why ELI didn’t earn as much as MEGAMIND or THE LAST AIRBENDER, two infinitely inferior sci-fi movies with better box office returns in 2010.

NEXT: Post Apocalypse Fiction in a Post Obama Landscape

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