The following post originally appeared on Geek Force Network, March 14, 2014. (And goddamn if it doesn’t hit weirdly close to home in our current times.)
While I don’t mind a good, post-apocalyptic film that presents our future as bleak, gritty, and violent, I’d much rather spend time watching the comedic side of our possible future selves, like Back to the Future II (Biff takes over the world next year, right?) and Sleepers. I recently re-watched one of my favorite entries in this genre(?), Idiocracy (2006).
If you’ve not seen this imperfect (it can be a bit too on-the-nose) yet hilarious Mike Judge movie, you simply must; and you must instead of reading this blog post. Because it has some SPOILERS. And also because you MUST see the movie. Do you see my face? That’s not a request.
In Idiocracy, viewers experience a dystopic future through the eyes of military man Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) and unsuspecting prostitute Rita (Maya Rudolph). They take part in an Army experiment involving a year-long stay in hibernation chambers. Instead of being woken in a year however, their capsules are forgotten and they emerge some 500 years into the future where they are literally the smartest people alive. Joe and Rita end up on a quest to return to their own time, which proves to be immensely challenging in a land of, well…idiots.
Watching Idiocracy is a bit eerie now as some of the far-off-future notions set forth in it hit remarkably close to our own times. One doesn’t need to look too far online to find any number of lists documenting all the things Idiocracy predicted that have, in some way, come true. In the movie, the president is an African American gentleman wrestler. Current times: President Obama; check.The future language has devolved into a grammatical and nonsensical nightmare. Current times: webspeak, textspeak; check. In this future, a program featuring a guy receiving repeated groin injuries is the number one program. Current times: YouTube; check. (Also, SIGH.)
There’s plenty of other things that the movie touches upon that, while not major problems now, could be soon enough, concerning such things as our stores of fresh food and water. (Brawndo, anyone? Again, just watch the movie.) But thankfully, not everything portended in Idiocracy has come true…yet. Here are three predictions from the movie that are maybe, probably, hopefully, at least another few hundred years of from being manifested.
Carl’s Jr. sponsors EVERYTHING (and you must say so).
The world of Idiocracy is replete with terrifyingly evil visions of the fast food chain, Carl’s Jr. (Or Hardees, to all us East Coasters). Its happy star logo takes on a very mean scowl and and the company “voice” growls at people as they access their readily-accessible food vending machines. Not only do the inhabitants practically accept Carl’s Jr. as a ruling class, but just about everything you see in the movie is tied to the chain. The logo pops up on cars, on billboards, on daily products, and it’s even in the hallowed Oval Office (the president and his cabinet are, of course, sponsored by Carl’s Jr.) Like those clothes on your back? You’ve got Carl’s Jr. to thank, otherwise, you’d be naked! Speaking of which…um…clothes, that is…
Need new clothes? Check the nearest dispenser!
Good gracious, do the clothes of Idiocracy make me cringe! Long gone are the days of individuality and uniqueness in fashion design. The world had devolved into a haven for prison garb – T-shirts and loose pants for guys, tight shirts and skirts for the women. And Crocs for everyone! Nearly all of it could be obtained from dispensers, y’know, like the kind that hold toilet seat covers. Classy! I can only imagine the millions of yards of polyester that were sacrificed for our amusement. And everything was plastered with “corporate” logos, from Carl’s Jr. to Brawndo to other blush-worthy chains/stores. But there was so much more in the world that was vying for your attention, or at least, your bedroom eyes because…
Most big corporations are now adult fantasylands.
Yep, Idiocracy takes inappropriate to a whole new level in turning just about any big corporation, from Google to Starbucks, into something something pornography. Want a “Starbucks?” Well, you probably don’t. Okay, why not just go to T.G.I. Fridays? Nope. Nope. And nope. Need to “Google” something? Probably want to avoid that too. If we think sex sells now, boy oh boy, does it ever this purported future! In fact, just about any turn of a phrase can be and if often taken to mean something sexual. It happens repeatedly throughout the movie to poor ol’ Joe. But I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. Consistency with the gag is paramount even if it is gross. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go ship something Fed Exxx. Erm… FedEx.