oh, and class of 2511

I also finally saw Idiocracy, as the movie is posted to youtube in 9 parts. I have been meaning to see it for a while, and I watched the whole thing, although with breaks. There were some very funny bits, but altogether I don’t think the movie really worked. This review is in the same neighborhood as what I felt, but reflecting on it, I see two major problems.

The first is that there isn’t really a story – the whole story is “some guy goes to the future, and the future is really dumb”. Sure, they try to make a story out of that, but it’s really weak, whereas, at least in something like Futurama (not saying it’s perfect) there are other things going on so that the “dumb future” satire can play its part without pounding you over the head.

The second thing is I think related but more specific. It’s that he attributes all the idiocy to genetics. Most importantly this means that no character in the movie besides our frozen present-dayers can ever really be interesting, since they’re all defined from the start as morons by absolute fact. They are the problem. Sure, the problem is this future society, but rather than focus the blame around the way people live (and so comment on the way we live now), it’s tied back to a problem of birth control: that rednecks kept having babies, and smart people kept waiting or not being able to reproduce, so in the future, only stupid people survived. This was an uncomfortable opening to me off the bat, as it seemed like a comment on how unfortunate it is that Europeans and white americans aren’t reproducing as much as all those foreigners and immigrants… yeah, he was careful to make the rednecks white as well as the high IQers in the opening sequence, but it still felt like a weird eugenicist conspiracy theory with racist undertones. Plus, it was dumb. If IQ is merely a static genetic absolute, then how does higher intelligence ever develop to start with? how do we get humans from apes? and it made all the funniest parts of the movie the result rather than the cause of the disaster, which was too bad.

The details were smart – the logos of the future (especially Fox staying the same! can’t believe that blogger didn’t get that!) were often hilarious; the references to “the violence channel” and shows like “Ow! My balls” were good, and the fact that just about every business had expanded to sell sex not just implicitly anymore was spot on. That everyone wore clothing covered in advertising (and lacking complications like buttons, zippers & shoelaces) was cute. But these things should have been the cause of society’s ills, rather than a result of deadened DNA, so a story line could have developed where the visitor from the past could have had an actual impact, rather than just have been smarter than everyone else.

I think my favorite part was “welcome to Costco. I love you.” – a perfect rendering of how we deplete the meaning of words through corporate use. President Camacho had a lot of good moments, and I loved the hospital stuff (minus the way too obvious mouth-ear-butt joke) at the beginning (esp dr. Mac-guy), although none of it is quite as funny the second time around. Still, I’d say it’s worth watching on youtube as a series of skits, basically.

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One Response to “oh, and class of 2511”

  1. sgazzetti Says:

    Your analysis is apt. I hadn’t given too much thought to the film’s main premise, but I agree and now I see that it does much to explain why, while I enjoyed the movie for its electrolytes, ended up with a slightly bad taste in my mouth.

    I also agree that the smallest details were the parts that worked best (in fact, I was prompted to watch it by reading a post about the excellence of the corporate logos etc. on a font/design blog).

    Ultimately, I felt that those little details (diagnosis: “Uh, you’re all fucked up and your shit’s retarded”) made it worth the price of admission. Especially if admission was gained via YouTube or BitTorrent.

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