The Science behind Societal Commentary

Idiocracy is clearly not a typical “disaster movie.”  There are no alien encounters, asteroids, volcanoes, or biological threats.  However, just because it is not based on a natural or biological disaster, it still does involve a good deal of science, moreso than people seemed to notice during Faith’s and my presentation.  Though it is not overtly displayed, essentially the entire movie is based off of biology and extensions of the subject.

This movie shows what happens when biology works to our disadvantage.  I found this really interesting, as the process natural selection, by definition, selects in favor of those that are better adapted to the environment.  This change does not occur rapidly—rather, it occurs over a long period of time, and is always at work.  In Idiocracy, the gene pool of the world’s population becomes so homogenized that because certain people (the not-so-intelligent) begin to produce much more rapidly than others (those like the conservative, yuppie couple shown at varying points in chronological time).  Homogeneity occurs very rarely in nature, primarily because organisms move and evolve according to their environment.  This is crucial for the survival of not just the individual organism, but the species as a whole; with more genetic variation, there is a smaller chance of a disease, for example, killing the entire population.

However, humans have evolved to develop a complex brain and way of thinking.  Therefore, they are able to override all animals’ natural urges to pass one’s genes on before they die (simply stated, reproduction).  This is displayed clearly through the conservative couple depicted in the beginning of the film.  While they really wanted to have children, they suppressed this urge because they deemed certain environmental factors to be too detrimental, such as the economy.  The film uses this couple to represent intelligent people as a whole, implying that over the years, they think more about outside factors that might be harmful to their future child, and therefore hesitant to have a baby.  Furthermore, the family depicted in the trailer park is used to show how they approach this subject nonchalantly, in effect having children at a faster pace that grows exponentially.

After this background information is established, the plot of the movie takes off.  What I thought was interesting about this movie is that one can draw conclusions about humans from innumerable angles, whether it is psychology, politics, sociology, or technology.  One can, if he or she tries, relate every one of these subjects back to the science upon which the movie is based—specifically, biology and the process of reproduction.

Though all of this is not directly displayed, and therefore requires more critical thinking to analyze from a scientific perspective, I think that it is a valuable film in terms of observing how the science within the human body can change not only humans themselves, but the society in which they live.

 

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