Viking Night: Idiocracy
By Bruce Hall
November 15, 2016
The lamest, and most obvious way for me to open would be to joke about how the world we’re living in resembles the dystopian nightmare depicted in Idiocracy. It doesn’t, of course. But I could have legitimately opened with that, if I were a total hack. Maybe I’d literally smile and nod after I wrote it, l’d pat myself on the back for my lukewarm sense of humor. And then you’d have to stop reading, what with all the vomiting all over yourself. So never you mind that.
Here’s what you need to know about Idiocracy.
Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill) wrote, directed, and produced this weirdly amusing little gem back in 2006. In it, obviously, society is gradually taken over by idiots. We know this because as we all learned in eighth grade Civics, that’s what you call an Idiocracy. Well, this Idiocracy was in limited release for approximately the length of time it takes to burn a couple of Hot Pockets. As a result, it was not what you’d call a “financial success.” Later, thanks to its subject matter, the film would find new life as both a cult favorite and a sort of election year douche-barometer.
Hipsters, raise your hands if you’ve ever cradled your decaf soy latte while snidely comparing modern society with those dummies from Idiocracy? And then, when nobody had any idea what you were talking about, scoffed and changed the subject to how you’ve recently become gluten free? You clearly didn’t read carefully, because I’m sure I alluded both to the film’s low box office, and to a revolutionary new weather device of my own invention.
Still, though, the general tone of Idiocracy is in keeping with what you’d expect from Mike Judge, which is to say “unsubtle.” The setup, such as it is, involves a reluctant Army librarian named Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) being recruited for a very special mission. The powers that be are field testing a device meant to freeze important figures for later revival, in case of war. Not willing to risk using an animal, the Army chooses the most average and unremarkable man in its ranks - Corporal “Average” Joe Bauers.
It’s weird not to have at least one female in the cast, so the Army sends a wisecracking prostitute named Rita (Maya Rudolph) to accompany Joe. They’re meant to remain frozen for one year, but a hilarious mistake means that not unlike galactic space hero Buck Rogers, the pair are frozen for over 500 years. Sadly, very MUCH unlike Buck Rogers, they do not wake up in a rope-light bedazzled Utopia where they get to fly space fighters and trade sexually neutral banter with a spandex clad Erin Gray.
Instead, they wake up on separate ends of the largest landfill on earth, in what was once Washington, D.C. The world has evolved into a grimy corporate dystopia. Every square inch of it is covered with advertisements for junk food, energy drinks. The most popular TV show is called “Ow! My Balls,” and it’s about exactly what you think it’s about. The citizens speak a form of English that sounds like a cross between Hillbilly and Ebonics. The President of the United States is a former professional wrestler named Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews). This is funny, because elevating a reality TV star to the Presidency is so laughably improbable.