In Mike Judge’s dystopian comedy two average Americans in 2005 are Rip Van Winkled 500 years into the future via a military experiment gone awry. They awaken in a society so dumb downed by generations of morons rutting and corporate brainwashing that they find themselves, by far, the smartest people on earth.
The most interesting aspect of futuristic movies is the details. It is the colors and shapes of the vistas and the make and use of everyday objects that bridge the future world to our own. Judge’s future America is a land of newborn passive mental numbness and neglect. A land of primary colors and dirt, where everything seems to be made out of Play Skool blocks yet is falling over aside mountains of garbage.
Judge’s film may be the harshest indictment of contemporary society of any dystopian film. The most indelible image of the movie is of a future average Joe sitting in his big easy chair facing a huge screen with too many whirring, buzzing boxes of multi-colored programming for the eye to possibly keep track of. He is mindlessly sucking on a long medical-IV-tube-like straw that connects to a clear white handle and ends in a pacifier-like nipple.
We’ve all kinda’ been there or seen other people there, even if no one was watching the Masturbation Network as the subject in the film is.
This sort of creepy familiarity paces the film. An insensate almost drooling woman diagnoses the protagonist’s medical condition by (barely) choosing one of several large buttons with a picture of a malady on it. Even the Police State, that fixture of dystopia, is automated for slowskies. Ubiquitous scanners occasionally read the barcode that has been tattooed onto our hero’s wrist thereby alerting the Keystone Lite Kops to his location.
These themes are punctuated by moments of vicious satire. “Welcome to Costco,” one thick skulled “greeter” from the future intones, “I love you. Welcome to Costco. I love you. Welcome to Costco….”
What makes Judge’s polemic different from other films in the dystopia genre is that we never meet the conspirators. While the film indicates that corporate advertising’s forging and fluxing of hominid minds has created a world of Retards blubbering “I like money” while stumbling to Starbucks for hand jobs The Man is as invisible as whatever it is that dude is sucking out of the nipple-IV-straw. Like so many of the subtleties in “Idiocracy” this reveals a larger point: corporations may have facilitated Judge’s dystopia, but it is still a dystopia of choice.
“Idiocracy” is more idea-driven than character driven; it is a nasty film and will therefore never be beloved-adored like “Office Space.” Where “Office Space” made light of the comedy of manners in the forced shared place of work, “Idiocracy” lands its punches in the personal submissive sensation of the “choice” of consumption. “Idiocracy” is a more important movie than “Office Space” and offers more rewards for repetitive viewing. The workweek always ends; the Tyranny of the Stupids only becomes normal: “Idiocracy” never got a chance in the theaters, according to Bill Maher, because the 18-34 year old male target audiences could not understand it. And after all, we sorta’ elected Generalissimo Bush. Twice!