The Postman

Apparently next year's really gonna suck.
"It is 2013. War has crippled the Earth. Technology has been erased. Our only hope is an unlikely hero."

Happy Thursday everyone! As promised today I will talk about the post-apocalyptic epic The Postman, and in the process probably get really angry as I talk about the variety of stupid reasons people hated it.

The Postman is a nearly three hour long movie, based on a David Brin novel of the same name, about a man traversing the wasteland left behind by the collapse of modern society (It is implied that it is a combination of nuclear war, plague, and social unrest brought on by a sect of hypersurvivalists known as Holnists). This man (Kevin Costner) is just trying to survive, and in the process he sets about a course of events that change the world. He does this by posing as a postman, for a fictitious reformed government that he makes up. By doing this he gives the people of the scattered remaining settlements hope and a banner to flock to, in opposition of the army of General Bethlehem (the Holnists I mentioned above, named after their philosophy's founder, a writer named Nathan Holn).

The movie was panned more or less universally by critics, for a variety of very different stupid reasons, that I would like to address but I'll stick to the two dumbest ones that I heard most consistently.

Look out, assholes at 12 o' clock.
#1)The Postman promotes zealous nationalism, and rampant flag-waving: The exact words used by the NY Times review was "mawkish Jingoism", a turn of phrase that I found to be as pretentious as physically possible for a two words to be (for those wondering, a definition of what a Jingo is here). Anyone who took away a message of  pro-american nationalism was really missing the fucking point. No matter what the USA as a nation actually does or is, in the movie (as well as in the book) it represents an idea. That idea is one of freedom, safety, and order. The reason it is the US government is because the movie takes place mostly in Oregon, which NY Times writers may not realize is a part of the United States. It is not a mark of chauvinistic nationalism to feel encouraged by the idea of your government reforming when you live in a wasteland predated by militant lunatics. The power of the symbol as a unifying force is the point, not the specific symbol itself. The movie (and again original novel) want to suggest that despite adversity, disaster, or total collapse, that the human spirit can endure, and order can (admittedly eventually) prevail against chaos. If that's too "bogusly sentimental" for you, then maybe you need to stop taking life so goddamned seriously. Yes people might be really sentimental about things that seem silly to us. The point is its supposed to be in a post-apocalyptic future, so maybe things take on different meaning yeah?

Kill them for not loving me. For not loving Waterworld! 
#2)The Postman is an exercise in narcissism on the part of Kevin Costner:  For those who don't know, Kevin Costner produced and directed this movie, and also stars as its lead. Does this make him a massive egotist? Maybe, it does but I have a better question for you. WHO GIVES A FUCK. Many reviewers seem incapable of divorcing the actions of actors with the proceedings within the movie, and I just don't get it. They're actors. I don't care how much of a douche Kevin Costner may or may not be, unless he breaks character to go "I KEVIN COSTNER, am the greatest!" I don't actually give a shit. His character acts more or less exactly like the same character in the novel. He is elevated as a symbol, and regarded as a hero, but that's what happens when you become a symbol for a group of desperate people. 

Which way do I go to get out of stupidland.
Are there things to criticize about this movie? Sure there are. I would agree that it probably could have been made shorter if they'd tried at it. Yes there are parts that are kind of silly (but that's often the case. Remember Mad Max guys?) but overall I found this to be an enjoyable entry into a sparsely populated genre. It definitely isn't for everyone, but when you complain about a movie in a review, I feel like you should at least be complaining about things that actually happen in the movie. If you like post-apocalyptic movies or science fiction, then I think you'll probably enjoy The Postman.

This is how I'd react sharing a box office with Titanic.
Predictably, this movie did awfully in the box office. Against a 80 million dollar budget, The Postman barely managed to gross 18 million during its run. This was partially due to the general disdain people seemed to have for it even as an idea, but also The Postman opened into a warzone of a box office. Among others, Titanic was only in its second week, as was Tomorrow Never Dies. Scream 2 was in its third week, and As Good as it Gets also opened the same weekend. All of these movies either already had or would go on to gross in the hundreds of millions. This did not help The Postman on its way to success.

As a side note, it's worth mentioning that the bethesda game Fallout: New Vegas draws heavily in setting and story from The Postman (the Brin novel) and therefore indirectly the movie. You'll note a lot of shared content as you watch the movie if you're a fan of the game.

Join me on Saturday, when I engage in part two of my exploration of the worst that video game adaptations have to offer. This will regrettably involve talking about Christian Slater.
Get a load of this shit. 


  1. I'd still totally see a movie if Kevin Costner announced, out of the blue, "I KEVIN COSTNER, am the greatest."

    Also, just started playing New Vegas so I now am interested.

  2. Yeah I feel the same way. I think If he did that it would make me want to see the movie more.


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