Good evening! Many people are familiar with the Mad Max series. It's a quadrant of films that take place in a futuristic wasteland. Assigning a sensible genre to this franchise has been a debate for quite some time. Is Mad Max post-apocalyptic, steampunk, dieselpunk, or something entirely different? I'll weight in with my thoughts and you can make a judgment call as well.
Let's start with the punk genres. Is Mad Max an accurate representation of steampunk? Not at all. Typically, steampunk stories take place in an alternate version of Victorian England with a heavy emphasis on sci-fi and fantasy. The Parasol Protectorate novels by Gail Carriger are a notable example. Think about mechanical cities with magic, airships, submarines, elaborate weapons, supernatural creatures, and steam power in every way imaginable. Steampunk fashion is also very distinct. It's a riff on Victorian attire with corsets, bowler hats, tailcoats, parasols, canes, etc. Occasionally, steampunk fiction take place in a distant future, such as Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. However, futuristic settings still have steampunk's classic aesthetics. Mad Max doesn't have any of these elements. The Mad Max films don't have a single ounce of steam power nor Victorian inspired fashion. Maybe somebody should Photoshop a top hat on Tom Hardy's Mad Max and give him tea with scones. But it's not unusual to give Mad Max a steampunk label anyway. If you don't believe me, I saw Steve Carell verbally label Mad Max: Fury Road as a “dystopian steampunk future" on the 88th Academy Awards. You may also run a Google search on “Mad Max steampunk" and I guarantee you'll find some interesting things.
What about dieselpunk? In a way, dieselpunk is similar to steampunk, except it takes place in alternate versions of the nineteen-thirties and forties with streamlined aesthetics, art deco cities, and noir elements. The fashion and stock characters also reflects these decades. For example, fedoras, pinstripes, flappers, femme fatales, mobsters, tommy guns, etc. It's also common for dieselpunk stories to take place during WWI and WWII. It also includes a lot of sci-fi and fantasy elements, similarly to steampunk. Everything is running on diesel fuel, including tanks, flame throwers, biplanes, vintage cars, and more. I always like to point out the BioShock games as a standard dieselpunk example. Mad Max has fast cars and gasoline, but that doesn't mean it's dieselpunk. The Mad Max series lacks the classic dieselpunk aesthetics. There's a huge different between art deco metropolises and desert wastelands. Now I want to Photoshop Tom Hardy's Mad Max with a fedora and cigar.
Post-apocalypse would be the most accurate genre. In short, post-apocalyptic settings take place after the fall of civilization due to a cataclysmic event. There are many post-apocalyptic settings ranging from plagues, environmental disasters, alien invasions, zombies, nuclear war, famine, arctic wastelands, etc. Some of my favorites are Waterworld, Dredd, 12 Monkeys, Escape from New York, Planet of the Apes, World War z, and the Fallout games. You can also call the Mad Max universe a dystopia. Basically, every post-apocalyptic setting is some type of dystopia, but not all dystopias are post-apocalyptic. For example, Fahrenheit 451, Catch 22, and Atlas Shrugged are dystopias because they take place in actual civilizations, but the situation is totalitarian and unjust with a lot of brainwashing or conditioning. Ultimately, any nightmare world could be labeled a dystopia. What's the situation for Mad Max? All four movies take place in a lawless desert wasteland after the collapse of civilization with very little food, water, or resources. That's why gasoline is such a valuable commodity. It's post-apocalyptic in every way shape and form. Keep in mind, steampunk and dieselpunk settings can also be post-apocalyptic. It simply depends on the individual story. Actually, post-apocalyptic versions of steampunk and dieselpunk are very common.
Those are my two cents on the Mad Max debate. Do you agree or disagree with me? Leave a comment. Unfortunately, a nasty bought of stomach flu prevented me from attending the Long Beach Comic Con this weekend. So, I won't have a nice photo gallery. But I'm planning to attend the Fall Dapper Day Expo and I'll make sure to include photos for that post. Also, next week's post is going to be a really fun steampunk interview. Keep coming back for more content. Thanks a lot and have a good week.
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