Reviews: Idiocracy

Absolutely awful

Works of satire often live or die on their ideology. While it's possible to enjoy such a piece on the strength of its wit or the way it communicates its points, odds are that, say, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy isn't gonna do much for you if you think technology enriches our lives, or that an optimist likely won't enjoy Candide.

So the first real metric we have is the ideas Idiocracy is setting out to promote. It picks a lot of different targets, but mostly seems to be a scathing attack on "low" culture—juvenile humor, junk food, Southern accents (I guess), wrestling, monster cars. All of these things, Mike Judge argues, are conspiring to turn our brains to mush and cause the downfall of society as we know it. Bit of an odd argument for a guy who created a classic example of juvenile humor and then got miffed when parents groups told him that the show was turning children into...well, into Idiocracy characters, but whatever.

Now, I don't really agree with any of these arguments, but I didn't agree with Hitchhiker's or Candide either and I enjoyed those just fine—both demonstrate a sharp wit and way with words, as well as create memorable characters and interesting worlds for them to inhabit. Idiocracy fails to do any of these things: in fact, the gags the film offers are just as brain-dead as the ones it's attacking, the leads are incredibly light on characterization, and the desolate cityscape society has become is almost indistinguishable from any other dystopia. In short, for a film arguing for the death of originality and culture, it really doesn't seem to be bringing anything new to the table.

Oh, and also it endorses eugenics inside of the first five minutes. It basically tells you that if we didn't let fat Southern people breed, this dystopia would never come to pass. Bit of an odd message from the guy who created a down-to-Earth and sympathetic show about fat Southern people to be making, but whatever.