Glad to see I have your attention. The title is not entirely unprecedented, as it actually has some relevance to what I’m going to say.
I decided to write another entry on “Idiocracy,” the movie that Faith and I will be showing to the class. Whereas before I focused on visuals throughout the film, I’m going to focus more on the messages that the movie conveys, about both future and present-day societies.
To briefly introduce the movie as I did in my first post, Joe Bauers is an average American who wakes up in the year 2505 due to an error in a human hibernation project. Here, he is the smartest and most cultured individual alive; the average IQ score has drastically dropped, essentially to a point that allows future individuals to perform little more than animal functions, as I will focus on. As the narrator states: “Unaware of what year it was, Joe wandered the streets desperate for help. But the English language had deteriorated into a hybrid of hillbilly, valleygirl, inner-city slang and various grunts. Joe was able to understand them, but when he spoke in an ordinary voice he sounded pompous and faggy to them.”
Companies that we know today, such as Starbucks and H&R Block, are not merely coffee shops or a tax preparation service. This society has brilliantly turned them into brothels, where people can go, scan the UPC barcode permanently embossed on their arms, and pay for a “hot latte” or “extra hot latte.” Essentially, an establishment that used to be a place for people to go, get a nice cup of coffee, and do some work or chill with friends, now sells sex. This example can also be considered within the context of the movie as a whole. Rather than engaging in activities that require social skills, the ability to articulate one’s self, and the capacity to focus and complete quality work—which ultimately shape an individual—these future citizens spend their free time either preoccupied with sex, eating processed food or watching television. Essentially, rather than individuating oneself and growing as a human being, they think only enough to satisfy their most baseline desires.
This single scene speaks volumes. Given the fact that this is a satire on our current society and the individuals within it, the movie seems to be warning present-day citizens about the societal and personal danger of retreating too much into technology, one’s instinctive desires, and becoming passive to what is occurring around them. From this perspective, we are all walking objects, complete with barcodes and so little capacity for substantiated thoughts and solid beliefs that we are easily influenced by outside factors. We fall victim to everything from McDonalds to photoshopped models; from faulty logic to advertisements (if they didn’t work, there wouldn’t be so many of them on TV, on billboards, and on our clothing in the form of logos).
“Idiocracy” is not just a film completely railing society and the individuals that comprise it, but also a sort of call to action. In a sense, it says, “This is what could happen, and where we’re on the road to, unless we make some changes.” I guess whether you agree depends on whether you are a pessimist or a humanist.