Review by Glenn Heath Jr.
Posted on 27 August 2013
Source Fox DVD
Idiocracy by Rumsey
Categories Favorites: The Apocalypse
Mike Judge’s scathing and hilarious Bush-era satire Idiocracy portrays the apocalypse not as a sudden and violent occurrence, but as a gradual self-inflicted plague that progresses over centuries of breeding. Unlike most end-game narratives, there are no alien threats, nuclear bombs, or natural catastrophes; humans carry the destructive nature of all three combined. With each successive generation mankind’s mean intelligence is further diluted, and in the end the world seems destined not to go out with a mushroom cloud but an incoherent mumble.
In contrast, and to his credit, Judge doesn’t paint modern-day America as a haven for constructive thought either. Idiocracy opens in 2005 on an Army base where Private Joe Bauers, described as the military’s most “average guy”, is forced to partake in the Human Hibernation Project. His female counterpart, Rita, is a prostitute plucked off the streets after the military is unable to find an enlisted woman that fits the project’s strict specifications. Their bodies are only supposed to be frozen for a short period, but due to a bit of internal corruption and malpractice, the program is halted, abandoned, and forgotten. The two are awakened by the Great Garbage Avalanche, nearly 500 years later, and behold a dystopian world ravaged by ignorance, corporate saturation, and genetic degredation.
In a bit of wonderful irony, Joe doesn’t initially realize that things are that drastically different as he explores the toxic wasteland that has become Earth. First, his pod literally crashes through the window of a dimwit named Frito in the midst of watching America’s number one television show, Ow! My Balls! while eating nacho cheese with his fingers. Frito responds violently, throwing Joe out the window onto a pile of garbage for talking “like a fag.” Outside, the aspects of mankind’s collective retardation only become clearer and more various.
Fuddruckers has become “Butt Fuckers.” Starbucks now serves hand jobs. English has descended into a combination of “hillbilly, valley girl, inner city slang, and various other grunts.” And as a double insult to both Hollywood and its audiences is the number one blockbuster in the country, a film aptly titled Ass, “which was just that for 90 minutes,” as the droll narrator correctly describes. It won 8 Academy Awards.
Joe eventually realizes the gravity of his situation and freaks out, attempting an escape plan involving a “Time Machine” that invariably turns out to be just as asinine as the national policy of watering crops with Brawndo, a Gatorade stand-in that emits a radioactive blue glow. But Joe’s desire to return to the past is only a ruse, a way for Judge to position him within leadership situations where he is forced to think critically and help a dying species too daft to see their own demise on the horizon.
The film’s most lurid incident comes when Joe, now named “Not Sure” by the government after botching his I.D. process, files the highest score ever on the national IQ test. President Macho Camacho, a hulking machine-gun toting brute who runs official government business like a professional wrestler performing for a crowd, appoints him Secretary of the Interior to fix the problems of the world, including the debilitating dust bowl that’s ravaged the countryside. When Joe institutes a policy to nourish the plants with water, the Brawndo stock plummets, sending half the world’s population to the unemployment line. The masses turn on Joe, forcing him to ask, “Do you really want to live in a world where you try and kill the one man that was trying to help you?” Well yes, they do.
As Joe is forced to compete in a humiliating and emasculating gladiator match against faceless warriors driving vehicles called “Assblaster” and “Dildozer”, Idiocracy skewers America’s blatant bloodlust for public carnage and secret desire to destroy itself. Here, it falls in line with many apocalypse films, but in a very unique and referential way. Amazingly, Joe never loses faith in the fact that he might be able to talk sense into his captors, despite the fact that it takes Rita’s courage and inventiveness to save his life at the last second.
If Idiocracy’s hopeful denouement suggests that people of all mental capacities can work together to ensure a bright future no matter how moronic things get, it does so with a caveat of personal accountability. “Maybe Joe didn’t save mankind. But he got the ball rolling,” concludes the narrator, bringing home Judge’s brilliant thesis. One man can make a difference, but only if he has the courage to see the world for what it is, and not what he wants it to be. Like the dumbing down of America, re-growth also moves slowly. We got ourselves into this mess, and it’s going to take generations of intelligent decisions and pragmatism to stave off extinction. So, who wants to get things started?
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