Tuesday, February 20, 2007

my freecapitalist review of idiocracy (may as well pad the blog with a bit of already seen filler)

A few weeks ago, FreeCapitalist.com reviewed a movie called Children of Men. That particular film involves a dramatic future dystopia about the decline of humanity because of the loss of principles. Strangely, this wasn’t the only film from 2006 to address this particular scenario.
Idiocracy certainly isn’t nearly as highbrow as Children of Men. The most obvious difference is the fact that Idiocracy is actually a straight-up comedy. The film comes from the bizarre mind of Mike Judge, the guy who got famous for introducing Beavis and Butt-head to the world. Idiocracy gets its laughs from many of the common comedic areas of today; i.e. kicks to certain places, certain off-color word usage and more than one joke about a certain place where human waste is consumed. But beyond all that modern comedic sludge, the stinging element linking Children of Men and Idiocracy is the similar principled message both portray.

In Idiocracy we are introduced to Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), a lowly clerk in the present-day military. Joe makes no secret that he wants to just coast through his service and stewardship. He secures a lazy job in a nearly never-visited part of the archives department. Joe’s understanding and attitude are summed up quite well in an exchange between him and a colleague. The colleague comes to inform him that their supervisor is re-assigning Joe to a different department. Joe is distraught. “I don’t understand it,” he says “Whenever I’m asked to lead, follow or get of the way; I always get out of the way.” Joe’s colleague gives Joe one of many lessons he’ll learn throughout the movie, “When he says ‘Lead, follow or get out of the way,’ he doesn’t want you to get out of the way. He wants to inspire you to lead, or at the very least, shame you into following.”

It turns out Joe’s new assignment is to test out the military’s new cryogenics program. He’s scheduled to hibernate for a year, but something goes awry, the cryogenics program is discontinued and Joe wakes up hundreds of years in the future. Joe quickly discovers that the world is now inhabited by the dumbest humans in Earth’s history. A question on the IQ test Joe takes shortly after arriving asks him, “If you have a two gallon bucket and a five gallon bucket, how many buckets do you have?” After getting in trouble with the law, Joe escapes a prison sentence by informing the prison guard that he’s actually supposed to be in the line of prisoners getting OUT of prison, not in.

Not only are these people not intelligent, but they have no familiarity with the concept of people as assets. This is evidenced by Carl’s Jr.’s slogan of the future: “Carl’s Jr… F*** you, I’m eating.” They also seek for something for nothing at every possible turn. Hospital waiting rooms contain slot machines that pay out free health care if the user is lucky. One member of the president’s cabinet got the job by winning a contest. Society has the false assumptions that productivity is not a standard and that their collective action actually has authority. Because of these philosophies, the world’s crop supply is dying because the people spray them with a Gatorade-type energy drink instead of water.

Joe soon realizes that the idiots he’s dealing with are the descendants of people with attitudes just like his. Through Joe’s vivid object lesson, he also learns that he’s tended to neglect his own self-value and society would actually struggle without his nurturing of his own stewardship. Soon, rather than coasting along in this new world, Joe attempts to bring principles and intelligence to the people for their benefit as well as his.

Obviously, this film, like most science fiction, is meant to be a commentary on today’s society and where we’re headed. Like Children of Men it teaches that people are assets. It also points us toward making the best of our own self-interest and thereby improving society rather than leeching from it. Of course, there are a lot of fart jokes on the way there.

Jon Madsen is the sound engineer for FreeCapitalist Radio and co-host of The Abel Hour.


Blogger Maria said...

I really shouldn't have laughed at this movie as much as I did, but I couldn't help it. Nice review!

February 21, 2007 12:10 PM  
Anonymous abel said...

I thought the review was great! Did I ever tell you what my friend thought of your reivew?

February 27, 2007 9:06 AM  

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