Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the future.
We have awesome money, a bad ass president, and the best fast food out of a vending machine that you could ever ask for. Check out our ballin’ TV. And before you ask, yes. It does come with a toilet.
Before I really go head first into this analysis, I would just like to say one thing: this was a kick-ass movie, brought to you by Carl’s Jr.
Remember how in H.G. Well’s The Time Machine, people of the future were either silly and plump or albino and man-eating? According to Mike Judge, people of our future have a similar demise: they care more about long-lasting erections and funny TV shows than about world peace. And like in The Time Machine, they try to kill the main character too.
Meet Joe. He’s your average army guy, with an average intelligence and no immediate family. Think of an under-achieving “Billy Pilgrim” but without the alien encounters. The best candidate for a government experiment.
The girl is his counterpart, Rita. She’s your average working girl with no close family ties. She’s continually worried that her pimp, “Upgrayedd” (yep, that’s really how he spells it), will find her to get his money. Even in the future.
Like in Rip Van Winkle and Kindred, both characters have absolutely no idea what their in for. Mainly because the government didn’t tell them that they’ll be used in a top-secret hibernation experiment. That, of course, get’s forgotten about when the leading scientist is arrested for partnering with Upgrayedd’s prostitution ring. Their hibernation chambers are then thrown into the dump, literally.
Instead of traveling by smarts, like the “Time Traveler” did in The Time Machine, these characters travel by average.
They wake up in the year 2505. As Joe encounters the world, he finds things shockingly stupid. Like in The Time Machine, this is a world focused on satisfying pleasure and entertainment. Because the highly intelligent people kept waiting to have children, the lesser of the intelligent kept right on breeding. They eventually outnumbered them all. As such, the future is filled with filtered media and senseless commercialism; kind of like what we see in “A Little Something for us Tempanauts” by Phillip K. Dick. Mankind has steadily DE-evolved into potty humor and trash.
Case in point: “Frito.” Yeah, that’s his real name. He’s, like Joe was, considered to be an under-achieving average citizen. He likes his TV, girls, and most of all: money. He says that a lot. Kind of like a “Rufus” in Kindred, he’ll be Rita and Joe’s guide to this new world. Except, he won’t throw little boy tantrums and get killed in the end. Apart from that, both Frito and Rufus are perfect examples of what their world has modeled them to be. For Rufus, it was a child-like slave owner; for Frito, it’s a lazy lawyer who got his degree from Costco.
Although I couldn’t find a parallel to Idiocracy‘s version of Costco in our texts, I found that it was a great device to measure our future with. We’ve all been into a Costco at some point in our lives, if not, at least somewhere similar. We all know what they sell, what they look like, and that dirty-cardboard smell that they emit. From wedding dresses to lawn furniture, you can find almost anything your looking for in mass quantity and a cheap price at Costco. Therefore, it’s completely understandable that people in this world would establish their Costco as a main fixture in their lives. Whether it’s a law degree or a hand-job, you can find it there. Symbolically, it serves to show how pridefully commercial and mindless our human race has become. Oh, and it’s massive. I forgot to mention that.
As they explore this future, Joe and Rita find themselves hurled into a world upside-down. What they were raised to value (education, respect for others, etc.) has been completely washed away. In this future, people value bad-assery, violence, and sex. Education is mocked and made fun-of: continually (and by multiple people) Joe’s language is described as “faggy” and ” ‘tarded.” Language in of itself has disintegrated along with human culture. Even the President of the United States himself, a former wrestling star, is known for his vulgar gestures, big hair, and pursuit of bad-assery. However smooth Joe tries to be, he is slapped in the face with the outrageous power of these people. Like in Rip Van Winkle, Joe eventually learns to accept the fact thatthe value of power will always be the same. Whether it’s a trial by town people or by an arena filled with flame-throwing monster trucks, the human race will always find a way to satisfy their hunger for control and justice.
However pleasure loving these people are, they’re also a dying breed. Because education has been so devalued over time, people no longer understand how to grow their own food. Instead of using actual water (which they commonly refer to as “toilet water”), people now both drink and water their crops with a popular power drink called, “BRAWNDO.” It’s great because it has electrolytes. It’s also not so great because it’s quickly killing their food supply. Although Joe had never considered himself previously to be a smart guy, he finds himself the smartest man on Earth. Literally. They did a test.
As such, Joe feels that it’s his responsibility to help out his future race. He finds himself in the same pickle that “Dana” in Kindred, the “Time Traveler” in The Time Machine, and “Landsman” in The Yiddish Policeman’s Union are: to somehow make a difference in a desperate world. With the best intentions, he takes office and makes some not-so-difficult decisions (water the crops with water, for example). However, he doesn’t anticipate their impatience and is falsely accused for all their problems. He faces death by monster truck rally. Like “Landsman,” he can’t help but feel alone and responsible for the position that he’s put himself in. His only colleagues in this world are Rita, who is frustrated with him at this point, and a dumpy guy named Frito.Similar to “Billy Pilgrim,” Joe is consistently haunted by the past and it takes a complete acceptance of his inability to control the future that makes him wake up and smell the roses.
It takes a plan by both Rita and Frito, plus a “good” speech given by Joe, to save Joe’s life. When Rita and Frito show the audience the new seedlings on the Megascreen, the citizens cheerfully welcome Joe back. He’s elected to office as President of the United States and gladly accepts his role in this new world. He comes to realize that, although they are harsh and stupid, he could actually have a better life in this future. Plus, the “time machine” that Frito has been promising to lead them to this whole time, has been nothing but an amusement ride.
Whether it’s upholding education or maintaining a healthy earth, Idiocracy made me realize that we have to be responsible for our future. If we leave it in the wrong hands or if we choose to “step aside,” we do nothing but damage. As it’s seen in Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Thunder,” what we do today will always affect our tomorrow. It’s only up to us to go out there and do a kick-ass good job. Peace.