Classification: Future Reality
Idiocracy begins when Corporal Joe Bauers, an average soldier (”Joe Average”), is picked for a top secret special experiment. And when I say average, I mean – scientifically average, on every conceivable scale. An additional participant in the experiment is Rita, a prostitute trying to run from her pimp (”Upgrayedd”).
As Joe finds out, because he has no family and no attachments, he could be put in a special hibernation device, in which he will sleep for exactly one year, and then wake up. The goal of this study is to enabling soldiers to stay dormant for long periods of time – something the military could find useful.
Agreeing to this deal, Joe goes to sleep. But unfortunately, the project gets abandoned somewhere down the road, and 500 years pass before he and Rita are revived – even this occurs purely by accident (the “Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505″).
After waking up, Joe is unsure what is going on. Feeling he should see a doctor, he goes to a hospital. But the hospitals are quite different from what he’s used to: the clerk uses a machine to diagnose him – one that is oddly similar to a McDonalds food order machine – and the Doctor’s diagnosis is simply that he’s “fucked up”.
Unhappy with this resolution, Joe quickly discovers he’s in bigger trouble. Unfortunately, he has no way to pay for the services he received, and is also no longer marked as a citizen. As a result, Joe is rapidly put on a trial, is found guilty, and finds himself in prison.
As Joe slowly discovers, the world of the 26th century is not what we have been dreaming about. It’s a world where commercialism and anti-intellectualism have been allowed to continue in their present trajectory. A world where literally, every single person is an utter idiot. Although the film does mock the future culture, this is not a slapstick comedy – the portrayal of the future is consistent and is quite serious when one thinks about it.
This world is in complete disrepair: enormous mountains of garbage, collapsing skyscrapers, food shortages – this is not because people don’t care (though they don’t seem to care much about anything except television), but because they simply don’t know how to maintain things anymore. For example, at some point Joe finds out that the food shortages are a result of the crops dying – which occurs because they are being watered with Brawndo, a Gatorade like futuristic beverage. When he suggests replacing this with water everyone protest because “It has electrolytes!” (they don’t know what it is, when he asks).
But Joe has one big advantage. In the 26th century, he is literally the smartest person alive – much smarter than anyone else. Joe must figure how to use his awe-inspiring intellect to get out of this predicament, and find a way to return to the past (his defense lawyer, Frito Pendejo, told him that one such “Time Machine” exists).
Although Idiocracy is in many ways the ultimate Dystopia, it gave me a chilling feeling that it is not that far fetched. The film examines the theory that we – humanity as a whole – are getting dumbed down as there’s no more evolutionary pressure exerted on us. Furthermore, as the modern intelligent person often doesn’t have time for making kids, and if he does, it’s only one or two, the overall result is increasingly levels of stupidity in the population.
The portrayal of the future felt very convincing, and even though the movie didn’t obviously try to be perceived as a comedy (although it clearly is), there are numerous moments that are purely hilarious. For example, in the 26th century, the best movie of the year is called “Ass”, and is simply a 90 minute movie about a person’s ass which occasionally farts. It gets absolute roars in the movie theater, and wins an Oscar.
Mike Judge, the creator of this movie (and of the fantastic Office Space – which unfortunately I can’t review since it has no Time Travel elements), has crafted a sharp satire about the way society is deteriorating. Although I believe (and dearly hope!) he’s mostly wrong, some of what we see in the future he suggests feel all too possible.
My summary: In general, I felt this is an excellent movie, and I really enjoyed it. That being said, I’m not entirely certain why it wasn’t more successful. Although at times it feels that many of the jokes repeat themselves, I doubt this is the reason. Oh well. Idiocracy is a funny, sharp and witty satire: highly recommended!
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Tags: Cryogenics, Dystopia, Future, Humor