The economics of Mad Max

All societies need an economy, even post-apocalyptic ones
There are markets, even in the Wasteland

There are markets, even in the Wasteland

I am not exaggerating when I say that Mad Max: Fury Road is possibly one of the best movies I have seen in my adult life. The high-octane adrenaline-fueled frenzy of non-stop car chase action would be spectacular in itself; that it is also makes emotional, political and philosophical statements in its two amazing hours absolutely shatters the idea that action movies are necessarily mindless and superficial. Its overt feminist undertones have been well documented, and like all the previous Mad Max movies delivers a powerful message about humanity and redemption. What more can you ask for in a summer blockbuster?

Could Mad Max also be a sublime statement on economics? One of the key elements of any dystopian/post-apocalyptic film is that it has to be somewhat believable, and for this to be achieved, there needs to be a realistic depiction of the way society arranges its economic exchanges. After watching Fury Road and then re-watching the original trilogy, it has struck me that each film has a progressively complex economic structure that could well be a coincidence. But with George Miller coincidences rarely exist and perhaps the old man has put even deeper meaning into the franchise that most people have thought.

Here’s an analysis of the economics of each Mad Max film. Continue reading

Is Achtung Baby the defining album of our lifetime?

The 20-year legacy of U2's second masterpiece and the awesome tour it spawned
Like a fly from a wall

Like a fly from a wall

It’s cliché to say you hate U2 these days, and despite being a lifelong fan, I can see the reasons why. For starters, Bono has turned from a rocker with a conscience to some guy in shades who tries to save African kids from poverty while carrying Louis Vuitton luggage. Most importantly, however, their last album sucked despite the rave reviews which made me wonder whether the critics received a different album than the one I heard. That said, from the lukewarm response to the new songs during their last tour, I’m confident I’m among the grand majority who thought it was bland and uninspiring. But despite the band’s recent inability to make great music, it’s only appropriate that we remember a time when they did, and there was no better time than in late November 1991 when the masterpiece known as Achtung Baby came out.

Achtung Baby was gifted to me by a close friend on my 14th birthday back in 1993. Up to that time, I must confess that I was not exactly a fan of U2 although I had heard most of their major hits on the radio (including some of Achtung‘s hits). And even though it did not win me over immediately, over time I became irrevocably hooked, to the point that I was eventually convinced that it was the best album I had ever heard in my young life. Who would have thought that, nearly two decades later, I would still think so? But more than that, Achtung Baby promptly triggered an almost pathological need to get my hands of every U2 album made until then and a near-religious devotion to Ireland’s most famous sons since. I have all their albums (except the last one which royally sucked). I have most of their videos on VHS or DVD. I’ve seen them live four times and one of those, their 1997 showing in Mexico City which was later immortalized in a DVD, is also to this day the best concert I’ve ever been to (I unfortunately missed the Zoo TV Tour). I even read a really great book about them, set during their Achtung Baby/Zooropa days and which I strongly recomment to any U2 fan. No group, with the exception of The Clash, comes even remotely close to the impact that U2 has had in my life. Continue reading