Don’t Want to Be an American Idiot

Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy,” and how our hunger for stupidity might soon leave us glutted with morons.

Ever since I watched “Idiocracy,” Mike Judge‘s latest film, I’ve been worried about the downfall of American society.

The movie is a dark comedy in which a thoroughly average member of the US Army and an uneducated prostitute are frozen in a military experiment. When they are finally revived in the year 2505, they find they are the smartest people left in America. The three-headed monster of dysgenics (the stupid out-breeding the intelligent), runaway consumerism, and lowest-common-denominator entertainment has turned the country into a crumbling wasteland — a utopia for morons.

The most popular television show in this future is entitled, “Ow, My Balls!” The slogan of Carl’s Jr. has devolved from “Don’t Bother Me. I’m Eating” to “Fuck You! I’m Eating!” The fictional Brawndo sports drink company has bought the FDA and the FCC, and has completely wiped out the use of water except in toilets. (Crops, which are now “nourished” with Brawndo, have gone to dust.) The people themselves are slack-jawed dolts who mindlessly parrot ad slogans, speak in half-sentences full of slang and juvenile insults and mock anyone with a superior vocabulary as “faggy.”

Mike Judge already skewered American office culture in his cult hit “Office Space,” and this time he thumbs his nose at the dumbing-down of American society, from our corporate overlords on down. Maybe as a result, the film’s studio — 20th Century Fox — delayed the movie’s release for more than a year, limited it to only 130 theaters, and gave it no advertising other than movie posters. Considering that Judge had brought so much success to the studio with his previous endeavors, this lackluster promotion seems quite suspicious. Could it be that the film’s anti-corporate tone was upsetting to 20th Century Fox?

I certainly can’t blame the decision-makers at Fox for squirming in their seats. My foremost thought while watching “Idiocracy” was not “Could this really happen?” but instead “Does he really think it will take 500 years for this to happen?”

We live in a society where people are famous simply for being famous (see: Hilton, Paris). Game shows ask us if we are smarter than a fifth-grader, and the response is often “no.” Text and instant messaging are threatening to replace “your” with “ur” — which is just as well, since most people don’t understand the difference between “your” and “you’re” in the first place. Even a trained Shakespearean actor such as Kelsey Grammer can be heard in a Hyundai commercial extolling the virtues of the word “duh,” proving that any indignity is possible as long as the price is right.

Still, there are always glimmers of hope. Lindsay Lohan’s movies are starting to flop at the box office. “The Apprentice” is losing TV viewers. Then there’s my favorite news bit of the past few years: In November 2005, voters kicked out of office the eight Dover Area School Board members who had required teaching on intelligent design in biology classes.

Of course, we must not grow complacent. With that in mind, I ask you to do your part: Read at least one book every week; avoid reality television if at all possible; and under no circumstances should you “do the Dew.” Thank you.

Oh, and one more thing: Start mating like rabbits. We need all the smart folks we can get.

Article © 2007 by Kevin Brotzman