Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Got What Plants Crave!

Much to my wife’s chagrin, it’s very difficult for me to commit to watching a movie and just about impossible to get me into a movie theater. I’m far more likely to watch a movie that I’ve seen before and enjoyed than to take a chance on an unfamiliar movie, even one that’s critically praised or recommended to me by friends. I think the last “new” movie that I watched was “I am Legend” (very good) and before that was Peter Jackson’s remake of “King Kong” (so-so, a more-or-less faithful remake of the original). It’s safe to say that new movies for me are few and far between.

Last night I watched Idiocracy for the first time. I remember there was a lot of buzz about it when a copy got leaked to the Internet and passed around the office (between its minimal, totally unpromoted, contractually obligated theatrical release and its eventual DVD release). My Tivo decided that it might be something that I’d enjoy based on my previous viewing habits of watching Mystery Men and Galaxy Quest over and over again.

Idiocracy was written and directed by Mike Judge, best known as the creator of the animated television shows Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill (he also does a lot of the voices) and the film Office Space. Idiocracy is a dark, science-fiction comedy about a totally average guy that gets frozen in time and wakes up 500 years in the future. In contrast to the “gleaming metal, faster than light utopia” of Star Trek or the “pretty much the same with flying cars and Asian stuff” of Blade Runner or Firefly, the year 2505 in Idiocracy is a world of overflowing garbage, a population composed entirely of dysfunctional degenerates (think Bill & Ted or Jeff Spicoli), and a crumbling social structure. Worst of all, they’ve inadvertently poisoned the soil (with the energy drink “Brawndo”) leading to massive crop failures. They are rapidly heading towards mass starvation.

How did this happen? The premise of the film is that of dysgenics, or evolutionary weakening. The basic idea is that modern humans have short-circuited Darwin’s theory of evolution and “survival of the fittest” in such a way that individuals with lower IQ’s are out-breeding the rest of the population. The doctors, scientists, and artists of the world were overrun by the crack-whores, shoe-salesmen, and “people that struggle to master the fryilator”. Evolution favored those who could produce the most offspring rather than those who were the strongest or the smartest – mutually exclusive traits in the human animal. The societal infrastructure could only handle so much peepee in the gene pool before it began collapsing in on itself.

The term “dysgenic” was first coined in 1915 to describe the fears related to losing literally millions of able-bodied men in World War 1. The mentally and physically disabled men stayed safely at home and would go on to father the next generation – the best of which would be weeded out again in World War 2 and Vietnam.

Eugenics, on the other hand, is all about selective breeding – think “best in show” for humans. Experiments in eugenics have taken many forms throughout the years. Nazi Germany paired off the “racially pureAryans and sterilized/euthanized tens of thousands of individuals that were deemed mentally or physically “unfit”. Alexander Graham Bell, whose mother and wife were both deaf, voiced concerns about congenitally deaf parents passing on the “undesirable” trait to their children. He went on to suggest that deaf people should not be allowed to marry and that institutions for the deaf were a potential breeding ground for a deaf America.

No matter how repulsive you may find the topic, and there are plenty of reasons why you may find it so, stop to consider your own friends and family and those that are breeding and those that aren’t. Do you have hillbilly cousins in East Bumblefuck that breed like rabbits and became grandparents in their 30’s? Do you work in an environment where the technical staff have an average breeding ratio of 0.25:1 but the janitors are banging out 5:1 or better? Since you are obviously literate and reading this entry on such as prestigious site as Bonez, what contribution have you made to the human gene pool? Are you swimming laps, treading water, or doing a graceful swan dive at the shallow end?

Then we have to think about the opposite extreme. Of course everyone remembers the Eugenics Wars of the 1990’s in which Khan Noonien Singh came to power. The problem was that “superior ability breeds superior ambition” or "genetically enhanced people are assholes". Everyone say it with me... Khan!!!!!

So science-fiction predicts the future of the human race as one of stupidity, mediocrity, or oppression by a small group of genetically enhanced supermen. Oh wait, then there’s the one where the apes take over…

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E said...

I too have seen Idiocracy, and I can't decide whether I would call it a comedy or the most chilling and terrifying film I've ever seen. Either way, I agree that it is a masterpiece and should be seen by everybody.

Humorously enough, though, I DO own a can of Brawndo and even have a shirt to go with it.

And those links should keep me reading for the next century or so.


GeologyJoe said...

I've seen it too. It cracked me up. I loved the guy playing the POTUS.

Dave Splash said...

The movie was genius. Mike Judge can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. And, yeah, is it funny or scary? I can't decide either.

Anonymous said...

We watched only recently ourselves and came to pretty much the same question: did I find that funny or terrifying???

I think I'm actually siding on the side of terrified. Although I must admit I had a chuckle that someone is actually selling Brawndo and the ads for it are hilarious.

Markoni said...

I'm of the opinion that The Governator, Jackass, and Paris Hilton are more than enough proof to show that Idiocracy is not only our future, but that we are watching it unfold before our eyes right now. It is a truly disturbing idea.