Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Postman (1997)

Mail is a real pain in the ass. Either the local numbnuts deliver your parcel three blocks off the mark, or you try to send electronically, only to find that you need to set up a trusted SMTP relay. In the case of either problem, you likely won’t figure it out until months after the fact. There’s a reason a rampage is called “going postal”.

Poor Kevin Costner. He is tasked with delivering the entire nation’s mail on the old shoeleather express. If any package is misdelivered, he gets the blame. No vehicles, no electricity, no help of any kind. With certain non-trivial problems, all you can give it is your best effort.

As a connoisseur of video games and the artistic goods of Japan, I heard about Kojima Hideo-san’s extravagant foray into the world of Postman, the majestic and not-at-all-pretentious Death Stranding, wherein you play as Kevin Costner’s vision of a parcel carrier. There is also a video game called Postal, wherein you don’t have to deliver a thing (see end of first paragraph).

But this is no game, this is a serious examination of what it means to be an American, through the lens of our mailman and savior.


If a guy pulling a donkey through the desert for two hours doesn’t sound like your thing, you can watch Uwe Boll’s Postal (2007) instead. Said Boll around the time of his film’s release:

Theatrical distributors are boycotting Postal because of its political content… We have even tried to buy a few screens in New York and Los Angeles, and they won’t let us even rent the theaters!

As much as I like Uwe Boll, nobody cares about his films. He has since retired from cinema, replacing it with “podcasting” and food as his preferred mediums of expression.

I had to open up a restaurant to get good reviews.

Postal is nihilistic and realistic about how the American mind works, but unfortunately it’s a silly mess. The Postman is no better, replacing satire with prolonged boredom, a Kevin Costner trademark. Which would you prefer to watch? I would recommend avoiding any film that references mail delivery, as the subject seems to be cursed (or just too boring to put on screen).

The Postman is a pretty straightforward story about Kevin Costner delivering post-apocalyptic mail (get it?) in a parallel dimension of the Waterworld universe. It’s not about transhumanism; Kevin Costner is not post-man, but the film is post-postmen. You’ve seen it all before, not that the plot matters since the movie just kinda does whatever.

In summary, you’ve got mail, but you’ve also got water shortages, famine, radiation poisoning, and a bandit army getting ready kill everyone you care about.

Let’s get back to the subject of mail. Mail sucks because people ignore that boring shit and let it fall by the wayside. Maybe the philosophy of the film is that things that nobody maintains break, like mail, which is supposed to be a metaphor for American values. However, perhaps some things aren’t worth maintaining or having. Perhaps we don’t need some things, and efforts to conserve every scrap of the familiar are unproductive wastes of time.

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