Harsh words came this week from screenwriter Etan Cohen, who believes his 2006 film, Idiocracy (written with Mike Judge), is starting to seem like some kind of precognitive miracle. Taking to Twitter to say he “never expected #Idiocracy to become a documentary,” Cohen might have a point.
Idiocracy centers around Private Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), who is put into cryogenic sleep, forgotten, and revived 500 years later. When he wakes he doesn't find a futuristic world full of deep space travel and artificial intelligence, but rather that the utterly braindead have come to inherit the earth. In Idiocracy, people breed like rabbits, pile trash into immovable mountains, forego critical thinking and discussion, and instead are bombarded with advertising and toilet humor.
Is this where we’re heading? Cohen seems to think so. In a state of bleak dismay, he followed up his initial Tweet by saying, “I thought the worst thing that would come true was everyone wearing Crocs.” Questionable footwear choices aside, are we really going to entirely bypass living on Mars and curing cancer in order to become a society of destructive dullards? Are we really becoming an Idiocracy? Unfortunately, there are ample signs to suggest that Cohen is right...
1. . Our Obsession with Ass
Nicki Minaj’s butt-focused video for “Anaconda” in 2014, followed closely by Kim Kardashian’s naked ass on the cover of Paper Magazine, are at the apex of our posterior obsessed culture. Idiocracy portended this with frightening accuracy, as the most popular movie in 2505 is titled simply, Ass, and true to its title, is just an image of a man’s ass on screen for 90 minutes. The future citizens of Idiocracy worship Ass, much the same way we revere the round bottoms of the Kardashian sisters. Everywhere you look, images in entertainment are decidedly rump-centric. So here we are, as predicted, in the era of ass.
2. . Our Terrifying Presidential Prospects
It’s probably no surprise that Cohen’s Tweet was made in the middle of a confoundingly idiotic presidential primary. In Idiocracy, the President is one Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, who, aside from being played by the handsome, funny, and robust Terry Crews, bears striking similarity to Presidential hopeful Donald Trump in his rambunctious lunacy. President Camacho is also a porn star and five-time ultimate smackdown wrestling champion--while Trump has hopefully never done any porn (because ew, why would there even be a market for that?), he has appeared, multiple times, on WWE. Seriously, you can’t make this up. If you think it sounds far-fetched to equate a real Presidential candidate to a crazy fictional character, Flavorwire has a great quiz that asks you who said it, Trump or Camacho, which should assure you that the idiot apocalypse is well and truly on its way, if not already here. So if we end up with Trump 2016, the Idiocracy prophecy will be fulfilled...
3. . Our Love for Emoji Keyboards
I like to think that I’m not an idiot, but I have four extra Emoji keyboards on my phone, on top of the inbuilt one. And with Facebook rolling out their “Emoji reactions” to the “Like” function this week, our culture’s affinity for little pictures of smiley faces has become worryingly intense. Not in the least because in Idiocracy, even the hospital keyboards consist of only images. Gone are the days of emoting with actual words--because a tiny little bug eyed, deadpan emoji face is apparently worth a thousand idiots.
4. . Our Constant Exposure to Advertising
Advertising has always been a priority in consumer culture--we’ve all seen Mad Men. But just when you thought advertising had reached maximum capacity, companies find new and more invasive ways to make themselves known to you. The saturation of advertising in Idiocracy seems exaggerated, but think about how we receive consumer messages now. Every YouTube video you watch comes embedded with an ad at the start, and pop ups during. You can’t even watch James Bond shoot bad guys without without product endorsements for Omega, Sony, Heineken, Aston Martin and Belvedere amongst others. Even people you follow on Instagram are being paid to subtly hawk products.
5. . Our Garbage Problem
Idiocracy is often remembered for the way the people of 2505 dealt with rubbish, which is not really dealing with it at all. The future citizens of Idiocracy simply pile their garbage up into filthy mountains in the middle of their community. The consequence is the “Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505.” Our reality is not too far removed from this. In Guatemala, for instance, there are real garbage avalanches, and people have died in them. Not to mention Beirut's "River of trash." Idiocracy’s imagined future doesn’t seem quite so funny in that context, does it?
6. . Our Bastardized Language
“That’s, like, totes amazeballs!” is probably something you’ve heard a friend say. We’re in the process of bastardizing the English language in both written and spoken form, shortening words and then making catchy hybrids of those shortenings. Some people even say “LOL” instead of actually laughing--as if the effort of intelligent speech is becoming too hard. Next thing you know, communication will start failing, the way it does in Idiocracy, and ignorance will prevail. We’re not entirely there yet, but texting and social media have already begun to erode comprehensive and thoughtful speech, attaching convenience rather than critical thinking to the way we use language, which is definitely a step in the right direction to creating our own Idiocracy.
7. . Our Love Of Viral Videos
In Idiocracy, citizens love a show called “Ow My Balls!” The show is about a guy getting his private parts hurt in different ways. So next time you’re laughing at a viral video of someone falling over, spare a thought for our looming Idiocracy.