Last night was a real treat. I watched Idiocracy on DVD.
Idiocracy is set in a future dystopia in which things have fallen apart, but not in the apocalyptic collapse implied in The Road and dealt with in The Day After Tomorrow. Rather, this is established in the opening scenes as a prolonged decline/descent over 500 years. A descent into stupidity. Idiots rule the world.
The narrator of the film sets the scene: ‘As the 21st century began, human evolution was at a turning point. Natural selection, the process by which the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, reproduced in greater numbers than the rest, a process which had once favored the noblest traits of man, now began to favor different traits. Most science fiction of the day predicted a future that was more civilized and more intelligent. But as time went on, things seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. A dumbing down. How did this happen? Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the herd, it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most, and left the intelligent to become an endangered species.’
Possibly it’s just me, but as I was laughing (actually guffawing), I was also disturbed by the bleak vision of the future where the average IQ has dropped after 500 years of ‘evolution’ in which stupidity triumphs. The basic idea is that those with low IQs have lots of children, whilst those with high IQs don’t have any (or too few to count). Over time, the average IQ level drops until you end up with a situation where nothing works properly. A military experiment gone wrong leads to the hero (a very average Joe) being put into suspended animation and waking up after a centuries-old mountain of rubbish collapses, therby dislodging the capsule he has been in over this 500 years of decline.
Plants are ‘watered’ with BRAWNDO: The Thirst Mutilator! It’s what plants crave. It’s got electrolytes! Needless to say, the plants don’t grow. People talk in dumbed-down language. Cars drop off unfinished bridges and crash. Marketing is reduced to a very direct approach, making liberal usage of basic Anglo-Saxon terms. The US president is a wrestler who carries a machine gun and flips the bird at his public as a victorious gesture. Rather than dealing with the causes of this malaise, scientists of the future research restoring hair loss and prolonging erections. Rise of the corporations. And more. You get the picture.
What really got me about this film was not just the connection with other films of a broken future (Planet of the Apes, Age of Stupid, and WALL-E), it was the idea that a descent had occurred over a long period, and what’s more, the people were too stupid to realise it. Now, clearly the film was out and out satire, but the cover is almost enough to be fooled into thinking this might be a documentary.
Think about it in this way: there’s an old story about putting a live frog into a pan of boiling water and watching it jump out, but if you put it into cold water and heat it up it’ll boil to death.
A world run by idiots? Total fantasy.