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Headscratchers / Idiocracy

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     The movie asserts that "smarter" people will have less children compared to dumber people 
  • But civilization has been around for 7,000 years. Is the movie trying to tell me that the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians were so unbelievably intelligent that they make Ozymandias look like a Down's Syndrome patient, or is it saying that for some incomprehensible reason stupid people are now deciding to screw like bunnies? And speaking of which, the author misinterpreted a piece of Truth in Television: That people with less income and education tend to have more children than everyone else. But "uneducated" =/= "stupid". There's probably a slight correlation, but it's possible to be bright yet dirt-poor and uneducated, just like it's possible to have a PhD and the wits of a lightly sautéed tomato. See the Country Mouse and Absent-Minded Professor tropes.
    • The first line mentions that the turn of the 21st century was "a turning point". As in, only then did stupid people start having more kids than smart people, because being smart wasn't necessary anymore. As for the dumb vs. uneducated thing, well, it's simplified so that the plot will work.
    • Except that the poor and less educated have ALWAYS had more kids than the rich and educated. Farmers used to have tons of kids because you need a lot of help to run a farm and most of them would die anyway. The amount of dumb peasants versus educated aristocracy hasn't really changed over time. In fact, with public schooling there are probably less dumb and undereducated peasants than there have ever been. And even then, you can be poor and smart. With lack of schools it will be harder to build on our current knowledge database, but if society really does regress there's going to be someone around to start rediscovering stuff. How do you think we found all this knowledge out in the first place?
    • That's not actually true. Population studies of England in the 16th and 17th centuries showed that everyone had lots of children, but that the rich had more. There was extensive downward social mobility as the upper class seeded the middle class which seeded the lower class. Farmers mostly sent their children to the cities to die of endemic/epidemic diseases.
    • The rich used to have more children per capita but the rich were still outnumbered by the poor, which means the poor were still having more children overall.
    • The 20th century is the first in human history to have reliable birth control. In no other era have people been able to easily control the size of their families. Hence, people who are thoughtful, careful and responsible reduce the number of children they have, while people who don't think ahead produce children whenever they have sex. Also, education is more broadly available than it has been historically, meaning the intelligent are more likely to become educated (not always, but more often than in ancient times.)
    • Which is sort of true - people with higher levels of education tend to have less children. But again, being uneducated is not stupidity. Hell, "stupidity" is an incredibly vague term, anyways.
    • Until recently, though the dumb had a lot of children, the smart also had a lot of children but more of the dumb kids died. Now (via the movie's logic) we're in a culture that protects the Too Dumb to Live from themselves, and to some degrees embraces their culture and values.
    • Absolutely: Just look for those people who bully the geek and like the stuff of popular culture (like everyone likes Paris Hilton just because she is beautiful even though she is a bit stupid).
    • Just to summarize: The 20th century was a turning point, where natural selection, which favored the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, began to favor different things (Idiots). With no natural enemies and humanity moving from predatory to herd-like state (remember, predators employ tactics like ambush and teamwork to bring down prey, while herds generally tend to just eat, sleep, fuck and run away), nature simply began to reward those who fucked more. And since intelligent people tend to be wiser and employ birth control methods for their own benefit, the idiots began to reproduce more, until everyone became idiots.
    • and this is 100% Truth In Movies; just look at warning labels on various products sometime.
    • It's the fault of the fucking lawsuits.
      • The pop-culture belief that the western world is plagued by people making frivolous lawsuits has been thoroughly debunked by organisations such as the Consumer Attorneys of California and the movie Hot Coffee by Susan Saladoff. This belief was actually crafted and propagated by many, many companies who all benefited from stigmatising anyone who would want to seek reasonable legal action against them. This is a commonplace practice.
    • To be accurate, natural selection has always favored those with higher reproductive success and not necessarily if they were stronger, smarter, faster, etc. It just so happened that those who were stronger, smarter, and faster tended to provide better support for their children to grow up and propagate their own genes. Yes, yes, this carries implications of Social Darwinism.
    • Natural selection hasn't changed since before Stone Age, but throughout most of humanity's history it was heavily nerfed by artificial self-selection. Screwing out of wedlock was forbidden and people didn't choose who they marry, their parents did and valued the potential candidate's ability to survive in the modern world and be a good spouse more than they did their ability to survive in jungle and sexual attractiveness. Nowadays only a natural selection is at work, so humanity reverts to its natural state: just one step above the animals. What really bugs me is the lack of violent gangs in the movie, you'd think such a future would just crawl with them. Besides, in addition to contraception point above, now is the first time in history abortion has become so available. Who knows, how many potential Einsteins didn't make it to this world.
    • Also the movie does not explicitly state that the "dumbing down" of humanity is entirely the fault of genetics; there was also a strong societal trend towards a shallow, materialistic lifestyle. Sure there are still smart people around but as the movie implied, their talents went towards making money (e.g. penile extension drugs, automating Carl's Jr., and running megacorporations) than fixing the world's problems. After all they may have brains but like the rest of society they'd rather have cash and a good time than worry about the mess they are in. Its just that by the time the events of the movie rolls around, they are in such a minority and so acclimatized to their own society that the smart ones just don't try to be smart anymore.
    • The movie exaggerates the general trend for the sake of humor.
    • Actually, there is no trend. Since the I.Q. is an average of all intelligence. So it has to be reset every couple years to keep it at the average. And every time, the standards are set higher. Ergo, people are actually getting smarter on average.
    • See: above. This movie, if it's trying to make a political point at ALL, is making a very lighthearted and easy one. It's a comedy, not a serious statement about the future of mankind. Relax.
    • Except that Mike Judge isn't above sacrificing realism for the sake of making a point. The irrigation subplot is a perfect example; it's impossible to bounce back from decades of salting the Earth with sports drinks in a matter of days, but the movie goes ahead and does it so that we can see Joe save the world. Never mind that the same effect could have been achieved using a pot of clean dirt (they weren't spraying Brawndo on everything, after all, just the land they were trying to grow things in) and a seed. Similar problems exist with Office Space, but that's another IJBM entirely. In fact, I'll be right back...
    • "Ergo, people are actually getting smarter on average." Nevertheless, the logic of Idiocracy that "predicts" the opposite trend seems to make sense. So what's it failing to account for? (Kinda like looking at a "proof" that 0=1 and trying to find the invalid step.)
    • It's failing to account for how the environment plays a very large role in the development of intelligence, and for how that portion that is genetic would be perpetuated when highly-intelligent people (philandering husbands, powerful men with ditzy mistresses, etc) breed outside their own grade of intellect. Being smart makes you a better cheater, after all; heck, dreaming up ways to trick each other is probably why humans got so smart in the first place.
    • Perhaps the lack of intelligence is just a side effect of the real problem: Apathetic Citizens. As society degrades attributes like problem solving, thoughtfulness, logic, rationality, and a desire to be proactive in fighting future problems are all undervalued (considered "faggy" in the parlance of 2505), so kids don't grow up to value those attributes. This causes no one to be interested in either educating themselves or fixing the various obvious problems (the drought, the trash mountains, the leaking nuclear facility...)
    • I actually think this may be the case. Smart people stopped caring about the overpopulating parasites and left the world to die out (the plot of Atlas Shrugged), or became the Corrupt Corporate Executives running the Megacorporations and highly-advanced Bread and Circuses systems. Who else do you think makes and maintains the automated machines, infrastructure, television shows, Ass Master, etc? Also, using the comparison between the stupid guy and the smart couple from the beginning, the smart couple is overly cautious, not wanting to bring their future child into a world they see as not being ideal. Conversely, the stupid guy just doesn't give a shit, spreading his DNA wherever he cares to. This causes a spread of Apathetic Citizens, as conscientious people die out or give up, resulting in a world where people just don't give a shit that they are on the brink of starvation and/or being suffocated by their own garbage.
    • I think the movie left a few things only implied because, well, we don't live in 2505 and should be able to grasp them: 1) The people in the future not only are less intelligent and educated, but less competent in anything, including physical labour. 2) Technological and, especially, medical progress skyrocketed between the late 19th Century and our present day; before that, life was much less easier for everyone. 3) Before out world became all comfortable and non-threatening, humans had to be either intelligent or at least competent in something to survive; it's not like 2505-like people would breed less in the past, it's just they probably wouldn't survive to breeding age in a more hostile, less techno-easy world. Basically, technological and medical progress erased any threat to the survival of people too dumb to live, so they could thrive. Also, consider that less educated (or intelligent) parent are less likely to place value on educating their children (or taking care of them at all), resulting into a cultural downward spiral. Of course, that's a stereotype and a generalisation, but the movie clearly plays stereotypes for laugh and a tongue-in-cheek social commentary.

    Who built the Dildozer and the Ass Master? 
  • I can see the people of the future thinking something like that would be cool and trying to slap the parts together, but not actually building something that works.
    • If you're going to start worrying about that, see also: every other societal system and engineering work that apparently has been done / is still being done since the world done got all stupid.
    • Most of the things we see are automated systems that could have been invented long ago, and now just need workers to push their buttons. Maybe the Dildozer and Assmaster were invented by the last few smart people, to sell to the growing market of the dumb.
    • But who maintains those automated systems? Who repairs them when they break down or glitch out? For that matter, who flies the planes that can clearly be seen flying overhead?
    • Nobody maintains them or repairs them. That's the cause of most of the problems that the people of the future were facing.
    • Basically. It's why the CEO of the sports drinks company was panicking, the company had long ago set up contingency protocols for a massive drop in stock market price, predicting no one would know what to do in such an event... and no one knew how to stop it.
    • By 2505, robots and computer systems have become so advanced and artificially intelligent, they have the capacity to repair themselves, electronically AND physically. (Not to mention maybe sneak in vital nutrients into the EXTRA BIG ASS FRIES or Brawndo so that the human race, viewed by AI robots as "useful idiots", doesn't die out.) Of course, some simpler robots, like the floor cleaner, may still develop programming glitches that can't be self-corrected.
    • Even so, how is President Camacho smart enough to ride a motorcycle? If motorcycles are anything like cars (not that I have any reason to believe they are, but whatever), then operating the clutch is not an intuitive operation. Even an automatic transmission seems like it would be beyond them. Plus, the bike would be pretty much useless without maintenance; eventually you'd have to change the oil.
    • He was the smartest person on Earth before Joe and Rita came along. It's probably a skill that's passed from generation to generation, along with the cycle, and now he's the last guy on Earth who know how to use and repair it.
    • Maybe they were tunneling or mining equipment.
    • Simple. The last smart people built up a huge automation infrastructure while they were still around. That infrastructure is still mostly running. But noone left knows how to fix anything, so when something breaks, it breaks for good unless it can be fixed by the system. The entire system is starting to break down by the point of the movie. See the first season Next Generation episode: "When the Bough Breaks" for another example of an advanced society that forgot how the stuff they built worked and became dependent on the machines that already existed. In that case, the machines still worked fine (the problem was something else entirely), but it's still an example.


    Brawndo is not what Plants crave 
  • So the people of the future have been "watering" their crops with Brawndo for decades, or at least a very long time. Some problems with that:
    • They've essentially been salting the earth for all that time (electrolytes being a form of salt, after all), yet Joe manages to undo the damage in only a few days by making them switch to water. What the hell? I seriously doubt it would take that little time for the earth to recover. Would it have been so hard to have him take a pot of dirt from somewhere else—they weren't watering everything with Brawndo, after all, just the land they were trying to grow things out of—and plant a seed in that?
    • "Salting the earth" is a metaphor. Besides, rainwater would get rid of most of it fairly quick.
    • "Salting the earth is a metaphor". ....No, it isn't. It was a real practice in Ancient Times, just not always for the reasons most people think.
    • Presumably the people of the future have been surviving off of Carl's Jr. machines since the crops died. How does everyone not have scurvy and other massive vitamin-deficiency problems? If they're getting their veggies from the burgers (tomatoes, etc.), where the hell are they getting those from?
    • I know they're idiots, but seriously, no one noticed that the crops died around the time they started using Brawndo instead of water? Are they so stupid that they can't even comprehend simple cause-and-effect? I'd think if they were, they would have died out a long time ago.
    • There is throughout the film an implication that some sort of other aspect of society - be it smarter people or robots or whatever - have been acting as indulgent caretakers until very recently. The movie makes more sense if you forget about this and realize it's supposed to be satire of our current societal trends.
    • Which, again, are not any actual trends as explained closer to the top of the page as well as in this classic comic strip. One cannot overstate the importance of seeing through the extremely attractive illusion that other people, seen from a distance, are stupid.
    • The societal trends are that there are a lot of fucking stupid people behaving stupidly and wallowing in their stupid, stupid filth. Always have been. Never won't be. Do you not recognize the idea of exaggeration as comedy?
    • Exaggeration yes. Deliberate falsehood no. First of all, the existence of lots of stupid people is not a "trend" in the first place. A trend is a general direction of development. The fact that stupid people always have and always will exist is no more a trend than the fact that rocks always have and always will exist. Okay, you've established that those things exist. And your point in making this observation was...? Second, satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices. But the thing is, in order for the satire to be valid, the vices being criticized must be absolutely true. If the societal vice you are criticizing does not really exist, you aren't making a satire, you're just lying. Or at best, misrepresenting the truth. Either way, the social criticism you were trying to make is invalidated because the thing you were criticizing isn't real. The fact is, even if it were true that uneducated people are out-breeding the educated (and I'm not convinced it is) society is not getting dumber as a result. No evidence has yet arisen for an overall drop or even a plateau in world/nationwide intelligence levels. It's an elitist myth based on an elitist fallacy.
    • The "idiocy" the movie criticizes is obviously consumerism, empty societal values, simplistic life goals and the overvaluation of money and sex. Material pursuits over intellectual ones. And this is clearly a trend in our society.
    • No, no it isn't. If that were the real message of the movie then there would be no need for all the "people are getting stupider" nonsense the movie tries to push on us. A satire of consumerism, empty societal values, simplistic life goals, and the overvaluation of money would be a very different movie (and a more interesting one in my opinion, but YMMV).
    • What it is, however, is a satire of those elements of modern society Mike Judge considers stupid and idiotic. That's it. We can go back and forth on whether this society is actually coming to pass, but whether it is or not isn't really the point (or at least it isn't the entire point); the point is simply for Judge to highlight the elements of society he thinks are ridiculous, idiotic and unpleasant by blowing them up to form an entire society based around them, and the 'dumb people are outbreeding smart people' thing is simply a plot device to justify the world he's creating. It's a device that's been done in fiction since Thomas Moore wrote Utopia; whether Judge actually believes that there is a potential for this to happen, I don't know (but I doubt it), but he's no more making an actual prophecy than George Orwell was actually prophecizing that by 1984 the entire world would be a totalitarian hellhole. What both are doing is just using the future settings of their works as a tool to enable their satires of contemporary society and to demonstrate on a large scale why the things they think are bad about their society are very very bad indeed, especially if they get out of control. The viewer may disagree with the things that Judge is choosing to satirize, but then, it's his satire, not theirs; if they want to satirize something else, they can write their own. As for not being true, while it might not be the case that society is trending towards getting dumber, there certainly are a lot of very stupid things and very stupid people in modern society.
    • To add something else: the above troper is incorrect that criticism is automatically invalid if not all of it is true. You insist that because some part of the argument is wrong, therefore all of it must be. A person has to be 100% right, or he never is. That simply is not true, it's black-and-white-thinking. Suppose for example I accuse someone first of committing adultery, then of clubbing baby seals, then of killing dogs. Suppose I have evidence proving the first is true, but not that the second and third are. Well, the person I am accusing can point out that I'm full of shit because he most certainly does not club baby seals or kill dogs. The thing is, while I would be partially wrong and would have to apologize for it, if the guy is in fact cheating on his wife, then that part of my argument is true whether the other two parts were true or not, and the guy would still be guilty of adultery. The same could be applied to this movie: let's say (hypothetically) that you don't bulldoze defendants, you don't water crops with Gatorade, but you do in fact repeatedly harass and attack people who use long words. In that case, then this movie would be wrong about you partially...but if for some reason you are in fact doing the last part, you still deserve the movie's criticism simply because, ideally, you're the sort of person who's willing to adjust your behavior if it's proven to you that something you've done has caused distress for other people.
    • Something else to break your brain on. How the hell are they getting purified water for their toilets that Joe uses to water the plants? 2505 society sure as hell doesn't seem competent enough to realize the difference between clean(no salt) water and seawater they'd probably get it from(which considering the garbage problem, would probably be pretty nasty already)
    • Salt water is corrosive and would damage the plumbing, so the automatic systems that keep the toilets working would tap fresh water from underground. Plus, there's probably water available for washing, as cleansing things in Brawndo would obviously leave them messier than when you started.
    • The reason people are watering their crops with it is because the Brawndo corporation effectively privatized the FDA, and has a monopoly. There's still sources of fresh water to flush the bowl with, it's just corporate propaganda has turned the consumption of regular water into a societal taboo, like setting the table using a roll of toilet paper.

     Unfortunate Implications about stupid people's names 
  • Why do so many stupid people in the future have Hispanic names? Think about it: Camacho, Pendejo (yes, I know what "pendejo" means)—even the announcer at Monday Night Rehabilitation has a Hispanic accent. It was probably just Mike Judge being pragmatic about immigration trends, but that's sure as hell not how it comes off. The fact that the hero is a white guy just makes it worse.
    • This movie is so rife with Unfortunate Implications that pointing them out is like pointing out a drop of water in the ocean.
    • Hector Camacho was a boxer. Frito Bandito was a corn chip mascot. Who gives a fuck.
    • There weren't any Asians! They all left and formed a smart nation.
    • I wonder where that leaves the Filipinos, cause they got the worst, I mean best, of both worlds (Hispanic and Asian).
    • The movie takes place in Los Angeles which is majority Hispanic. If it had taken place in Berlin, all the stupid people would be speaking German (or for our sake at least German accents.)
    • Additionally, when Spanish-speaking immigrants come to this country, their education process takes a little longer than Americans born in the country because the immigrants first have to learn how to speak English in order for some opportunities to open up for them. It's more about language than it is about race; now, if this is a future in which the educational system can't even teach people what 1 + 1 is, much less teach them how to speak English, then it makes sense that a lot of the stupid people in this movie would have Spanish-sounding names.
      • Then why the society hasn't divided based on linguistics if they can't run English lessons, not to mention how all of them managed to speak in a universally single language at all.

    Subject 3 
  • In the stinger, we see "Subject 3" (Upgrayedd) climbing out of a capsule. "Subject 3" went to jail around the same time Collins did. So how did "Subject 3" a) obtain the capsule and ancillary items and b) know how to use it? (He didn't come across as smart enough to do it himself.)
    • Rule of Funny. It's to show just how determined he is.
    • He and Collins were obviously great friends, and prostitution is not exactly a life sentence, so perhaps Collins helped him build/find another capsule to get to the future. It would explain why his opened up a little later than the other two, after all (Perhaps it was offset by a few years, but not to the exact day?)
    • Another large problem with this is that he's coming to the future in order to find Rita, but it would be considerably easier to just find her capsule in the "present day."
    • Who says that's why he's in the future? He probably just converted his sentence into agreement to be part of another experiment, or somesuch. It'd be a whole lot of trouble to go into hibernation and all just to find one of your whores and get a few hundred bucks back.


  • When Upgrayedd gets out of the capsule, he puts his hat on backwards. It just bugs me.
    • Me too.
    • Heh, I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed. I think that The Stinger implies that unlike Joe and Rita, Upgrayedd will fit in the future just fine, and the backwards hat is a part of that. Did I kill the joke?
    • Well, he is a forefather to a huge chunk of the American of population. What's really going to bake your noodle is the amount of ancestor incest that he's about to unleash.
    • I just figured it was a part of the pimpin' style that I wasn't familiar with.
    • Who says it wasn't his descendants who started the custom of always wearing hats backwards, like their ancestor did?

    National Anthem 

  • At Joe's rehabilitation the national anthem is played by several dozen guitar players. While they do play with relatively little skill, it is still really difficult to learn the guitar (I know from experience). With the short attention spans of everyone, I find it doubtful that anyone would have the devotion to practice an instrument for hours and hours. People don't seem smart enough to know how to tune their guitars. Since they clearly don't understand cause and effect, the very concept of "place fingers over frets to make sound" would probably confuse them. I always thought the joke would have worked a hell of a lot better has they been playing Guitar Hero instead of actual instruments.
    • Playing the guitar looks cool and it gets you laid. They'd put forth the effort.
    • Guitar Hero had yet to be released during filming.


    Beef Supreme 

  • Am I the only one who thought Beef Supreme may be smarter than everyone else? In his brief appearance, he seemed to be acting stupid rather than being stupid like everyone else. He teases at the audience but clearly knows where Joe is from the get go. Maybe it was that he had no speaking lines but he honestly struck me as a Man Behind the Man: Someone who was secretly smart and used his position to keep control of the society.
    • If you've read the book you'd know that he actually becomes President after Joe.
    • Beef Supreme was played by the brother of the actor who played Joe, so some of that may have been a casting gag.

    Stupid men 

  • How the fuck did Clevon plow that many bitches despite being a fat stupid redneck? Same goes for Jr.
    • Clevon was easy and Jr. was a Football Player.
    • Have you ever read redneck-who-shockingly-became-a-leftist Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting with Jesus, or his later work Rainbow Pie? Working-class people like the West Virginia townspeople he grew up with are often presented with almost no opportunities in life; the system is rigged against them, starting with poorly funded public schools for example. They often learn to expect little out of life besides endless labor, so they find entertainment where they can. Clevon doesn't have to be stupid for the scenario in the movie to make sense; he and the "bitches" can be sympathetic, as well: maybe the reason so many women agreed to have sex with Clevon is that, as fellow working-class folks, they agreed with Clevon's value system, and their town had such few opportunities for entertainment or meaning in life it's easy to see why sex would fill that niche. And if multiple women got pregnant by the same man...well, motherhood can provide a lot of meaning in life if women have few other opportunities to pursue. As for why Jr. was also able to have sex with multiple women, again, think about it from the point of view of people who grow up in hugely blue-collar towns: football teams are often opportunities to bring heroism to the town. So Jr.'s situation in the movie also makes sense, but only if he constantly kept winning football games against other states and bringing glory to his community. It wouldn't be the first time multiple women were attracted to power or heroism.
    • Maybe Clevon was just really good at courtship. It's not like every woman he fucked planned to marry him.


  • If reading (among other intelligent things) is for "f*gs", then where are they? Are there no gay people in the future? Do they even know what they're referring to?
    • If stupid folks reproducing more is enough for them to overwhelm the world, typically producing stupid children in the logic of the movie (which it is) and smart people reproducing less is enough for them to become a rarity in the logic of the movie... then it follows that homosexuals, who don't reproduce at all, are completely extinct and now considered some sort of terrible ancient fad... especially among a population that really likes their 20 kids a couple. Alternatively: gays are still everywhere, they're just too oblivious to realize they're gay. Alternatively alternatively: 2505 is so past that kind of prejudice they don't care about gayness enough for there to be any reason for who is and is not gay to actually be apparent on screen. They still use fag as an insult for the same reason a lot of people in 2005 did - they heard it from somebody who heard it from somebody etc. - and don't connect it to homosexuality because they're not really big on understanding implications, acknowledging implications, or occasionally knowing what 'implications' means.


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