Tuesday, April 14, 2015


"There's no stoppin' the cretins from hoppin'
You gotta keep it beatin' for all the hoppin' cretins"

The Ramones - Cretin Hop

You can sometimes catch Idiocracy on cable, which is good because you sure as hell couldn't catch it in theaters or even on video a decade ago when it came out. For references on how the Fox corporation tried to bury the movie, consult your local Internet. My purposes are served well enough by simply admitting that calling Idiocracy "controversial" would understate matters, dealing as it does with modern society's great taboo: intellect.

During my life I have listened to several psychology / neurology professors and lecturers state quite blankly the reality that some individuals are simply better able to reason than others and that statistical analysis of varying complexity supports the case that intelligence is strongly heritable. Yet such statements are always given as polite asides in closed classrooms. Outside the doors of scientific reality we condemn each other to an anti-intellectual dreamscape of socially convenient platitudes. Whatever your qualities and achievements in real life, you're forced to attribute everything to determination, hard work, teamwork, divine inspiration... anything, anything at all so long as you never claim the taboo virtue of intellect for yourself. You can tout your social superiority through every facet of conspicuous consumption, but never dare claim that you, the individual, the mind inside the body occupying that social rank, are superior in and of yourself. We're all equal. Pass me the keys to my new Dildozer.

Not that you can fix such skewed perceptions with one comedy, no matter how threatening it may have seemed to corporate overlords, and the writer/director knew better than to try. In fairness, Idiocracy is neither a grimly-detailed treatise on dysgenics nor a paean to eugenics, but dark comedy lending its deadly serious subject matter the farcical sugar-coating it needs to go down easy. Judge seems to have had little intention of soapboxing for ninety minutes straight and for the most part adopts dysgenic prognostication for the jester's "he's saying what we're all thinking" angle. Somewhat to the detriment of its coherence, the movie's heavy-handed first half peters out somewhat in favor of strung-out slapstick and it overplays the "rehabilitation" scene as a climactic special-effects payoff.

It's thankfully salvaged by a concisely narrated epilogue but one can't escape the realization that as with many of the best Science Fiction stories, Idiocracy can be distilled to one or two monologues encapsulating its progressive ideology. The introduction concerning the two case studies and the second narrated introduction to the world of the future could be watched quite easily as disparate shorts. The rest, the myriad forms stupidity takes in the contemporary "developed" world, from Ow My Balls to the House o' Representin', well, that's just added catharsis for those of us who were sold on the flick's premise already. Delicious, delicious catharsis.

You know, maybe that's what made this thing so threatening. The public is impervious to reasoned argument, as the upper classes know all too well. Shameless, uncompromising satire presenting a progressive point as a fait accompli, now that has some potential in the political arena. In the famous words of Boss Tweed "My constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures!" Mike Judge provided pictures: lurid, sickening, vibrant, laugh-the-pain-away imagery of humanity's suicidal refusal to adopt quality control measures. It's no more a recipe for salvation than Joe Average's failure to save the world of the future but where reasoned discourse comes up against the public's ignorance, shortsightedness and outright stupidity, Idiocracy does get the ball rolling, and that's pretty good for an average satirist.

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