Films that told the future 001: Idiocracy

Mike Judge’s dystopian comedy that follows the story of Corporal Joe Bauers who wakes up in a future where everything’s gone to shit.

It’s understandable if you’re unfamiliar with Mike Judge’s 2005 dystopian comedy Idiocracy, 20th Century Fox didn’t bother promoting it. However, if you were raised on Judge staples such as Beavis and Butt-Head, and consider Office Space to be more of a documentary than a film, Idiocracy is a cult classic.

Idiocracy follows the story of Corporal Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), an average Joe who’s chosen to take part in a military experiment where he’ll be frozen for a year. However, after the trial begins the officer overseeing it is arrested, Joe’s forgotten about and remains frozen for 500 years until a garbage avalanche brings him out of stasis.

Joe wakes up in a future where everything’s gone to shit. In 2005 Judge’s forecast of what politics would look like was based on the Bush administration, before militia crazies like Sarah Palin had crawled out of their nuclear bunkers. Now Idiocracy’s Uzi-wielding former wrestler President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews) seems…sort of normal. Idiocracy’s POTUS receiving a haranguing from one of his representatives (“I got a solution, you’re a dick!”) doesn’t seem that far removed from the political slagging matches Trump engages in. In fact Judge even told The Daily Beast, that during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, every other Twitter comment I [got was] about Idiocracy, and how it’s a documentary now.” 

Beyond politics, the biggest problem facing Judge’s fictional society is that everyone’s stupid because intelligent people have been too busy/​terrified to have kids, whereas idiots have been breeding like rabbits. Yeah, it all seems a bit pro-eugenics, although Judge has been eager to dismiss this accusation. Nevertheless, it’s one of the main points that viewers come away with, and an idea that newspapers have been happy to perpetuate for a few years now.

Despite the ethically difficult key theme, there’s a ton of other surprisingly prescient (and dumb) worldbuilding in Idiocracy. Crops are failing, not because of global warming but because they’re being irrigated with a sports drink called Brawndo, Starbucks offer hand-jobs with every coffee (whatever happened to that Paddington robot fellatio cafe?), and the number one movie is called Ass, which I believe was the working title for the latest Fast & Furious movie.

Idiocracy’s predictions seemed absurd at the time, with advertisers resorting to slogans such as If you don’t smoke Tarrlytons…fuck you!’ and Costco guests being greeted with Welcome to Costco. I love you’. And yet here we are in 2019 with laptop manufacturer Razer encouraging its fans to S my D’, and Sunny D admitting that they ‘…can’t do this anymore’ on their Twitter feeds.

The film concludes with Joe solving the vegetation problem and being elected President. It’s way too simplistic an ending from which to draw solutions to any of today’s problems. That said, we’d take President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho over Trump any day.


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