I remember watching Idiocracy back in 2009. To me at the time, it was just another odd comical romp starring famous white people doing dumb things for the sake of entertainment. Just another mid-2000’s comedy flick starring Luke Wilson. I did not, however, expect the events of the film to come so eerily close to reality ten years later. It’s 2019 as of writing this heap, and as it stands, we’re about 40% into realising what Idiocracy entailed.
What are you on about? What’s Idiocracy?
Idiocracy is a now-disturbingly realistic dystopian comedy film about a future where consumerism, anti-intellectual attitudes, and complete degradation of any and all scientific values are the norm for everyday life. It stars Luke Wilson playing an army librarian (which is a real job) who gets pulled into a top secret army project concerning long-term human hibernation, along with costar Maya Rudolph as Rita, a sex worker who agrees to the experiment in exchange for some legal leeway.
They were supposed to sleep for a year, but due to the events of the film being utterly comedic, they went from 2005 to 2505. In this world, literally everybody is a goddamn idiot, and although Joe is, by all standards, depressingly average, he’s automatically the smartest man in the world.
Why is Everybody an Idiot in idiocracy?
Like the film’s intro elaborates: evolution does not necessarily favour the intelligent among us. It does, however, weight heavily in favour of those who can reproduce the fastest without getting killed. Intelligence is naturally in short supply no matter where or when you go looking for it. And with folks just breeding, eating, sleeping, and growing more and more complacent with just existing, the universe at large kind of just… went to shit.
In Idiocracy, corporations like Hardee’s (Carl Jr’s in America and the film), Costco, and even Starbucks run what’s left of the economy. Things got so literally idiotic that an energy drinks company straight up bought the FDA and FCC, going on to replace water entirely. Costco is no longer a massive hypermarket; it’s a city with folks living (and shopping) in it. And Starbucks, along with a few other big brands, now provide adult services; a latte in Idiocracy is essentially sex (T.G.I Fridays is now T.J O’Handjobs as well). Essentially, every company over the centuries got more and more leeway to get what they want, while simultaneously corroding human values, scientific awareness, and just not being a moron.
So Why Should I Watch Idiocracy?
Idiocracy doesn’t have much in the way of production value or eye candy; Mike Judge – the film’s director same mind behind cult hit Office Space – got shafted hard by the studio and the network. So he had to make due with lackluster visuals and set design. Although to be perfectly fair, films back in that era (and especially in this creative vein) were typically low on the production side of things, budget or not. So you can forgive the low-grade 90’s aesthetic and focus more on the actual narrative of the film.
It is preposterous beyond means when you look at it back in 2006. But just take a look at international politics and mainstream media now. I remember how the degradation and dumbing-down of the universe – Fuddruckers becoming Buttfuckers for example – would be a far-fetched idea even under the most creative of headspaces. I didn’t imagine that pornography, which is a totally valid form of artistic expression, would have such massive sway in the future. So much so that the movie subtly parodies Google turning into a porn site, or Hardees owning most major conglomerates in the known world.
I mean the simplest example of the idiocy that is this not-so-far-off world is that a fictional energy drinks company literally owns all use of water. Whenever Joe expresses his thirst for a cup of plain old water to people in the film, they always give him a bewildered stare, as if he had just pulled seven vases out of his ass. They always reply with “Water? Like out the toilet??” This is a universe so consumed by convenience, complacency, and devastating levels of neglect that they can barely form coherent sentences. They speak in a form of english you’d expect from a 7-year old on meth, as disturbing as that image may be. Take a look at today’s world; Pepsi pretty much owns the liquids industry; fast food chains are insatiable in their race to penetrate each and every revenue stream through whatever means, including buying your personal information just to play on your complacency and simple visual recognition.
When it comes to the actual acting; I’ve always favoured Luke Wilson over his pitch-inept brother. He has that everyman look nailed down with seventeen inch nails, which is perfect for his portrayal of the most average man on earth (even his vital signs are painfully average). Maya Rudolph masterfully pulls off the befuddled and bemoaned sex worker with a crisis act. She’s quick to think on her feet, delightful to hear making shit up, and is surprisingly not portrayed as a defenseless or helpless damsel. And were it not for a few (albeit offensive) remarks and inquiries about her sexuality, it’s an all-round refreshing role. Dax Shepard, who plays Joe’s defacto lawyer Frito, naturally lends himself to a character who both looks and sounds like he has the IQ of a cup of ranch sauce from Papa John’s. And Terry Crews playing President Camacho? A former pro wrestler and porn star? Yes.
That Sounds Incredibly Dumb
It really, truly is the dumbest, most amazing cult comedy of that era, right next to Office Space. Though it has extremely little recognition seeing as it was buried by the production company and studio, it is a film that only grows in relevance with each passing year. You can clearly see too many parallels between America circa 2505 and its present-day iteration. And you can generally see the kinds of trends that manage to penetrate social media users around the universe and lead to a mass mental degradation event. Just look at the Tide Pod Challenge or Jake/Logan Paul.
Idiocracy is a thoroughly endearing, comedic, and inventive film that manages to throw caution to the wind in so many aspects where others couldn’t dare. It is a fun watch, and a massive foreshadowing of things to come very, very soon.