Guest Author - Peggy Maddox
If you've never heard of the film Idiocracy, it's not surprising.
Having permitted the film to be made, Fox Studios didn't market it. They provided no promotional materials and opened it in fewer than ten U.S. cities. No wonder few people have heard of it.
Idiocracy is a sci-fi film that depicts a dystopic vision of the future. Unlike dystopic films like the Terminator and Matrix series, this dystopia is truly frightening.
Note: The words dystopia and dystopic/dystopian correspond to those of utopia and utopian.
"Utopia" is a fictional place written about by Sir Thomas More. It was his vision of a perfect human society in which everyone works at suitable jobs, everyone is kind to one another, and material wealth is of little importance. People are more interested in acquiring knowledge and wisdom. No one goes hungry in Utopia. No one is unhappy. The government is efficient without being tyrannical. Religious belief inspires only harmony. Such a vision of the world is called "utopian."
Modern writers have come up with unpleasant futuristic visions in which people are regimented by all-controlling governments. Films like Terminator show us futures in which many of the world's cities have been destroyed by war. Sensitive, intelligent people, longing to be free, fight against totalitarian governments. Such a culture in which individuality is persecuted and human misery abounds is called a "dystopia." The adjective is dystopic or dystopian,
Some dystopic films you may have seen: Children of Men, Logan's Run, Escape from New York, The Handmaid's Tale, Soylent Green.
The dystopic film often suggests that the terrible future could have been prevented if only some isolated, containable event or invention had been stopped. It leaves the viewer momentarily thoughtful about some elements of current culture, but is easily forgotten because its intellectual concepts are not much thought of in the routines of daily life.
Idiocracy, on the other hand, is not so easy to dismiss. The horrible future that it depicts is already beginning to demonstrate itself all around us. Correct and descriptive language is in decline. TV announcers talk about drug "busts." Insurance companies tell us to insure our "kids." Elected officials misuse words, confuse pronouns, and laugh off their mistakes to approving followers. Everyone has at least one tee shirt with a corporate logo on it.
Movies like Animal House, American Pie, Knocked Up--movies in which dogs bite men in the crotch--movies in which bare bottoms are featured--movies that present pimps as all right joes and prostitution as an acceptable way of life for women--movies that show people laughing at the pain and misfortune of others--movies that ridicule "eggheads" who actually enjoy opera or Shakespeare--make millions of dollars.
Reading for pleasure is no longer part of everyone's life, and cash registers with pictures have been around for a long time. Plane crashes and car accidents, lab disasters and government debacles are often traced to the "human error" of employees who didn't bother to read directions or who paid no attention to obvious warning signs.
No wonder Fox didn't want to publicize Idiocracy. It is too, too close to the mark. A movie that makes people think about the long term effects of movie swill is not in the corporate interest.
This is an underrated movie that I hope acquires a huge following as a cult film.