This is a bit far afield for us, but here on Cartoon Friday, we’re giving Mike Judge a pass because he’s definitely part of the Cartoon Mafia. Judge is the autuer behind Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill and Office Space, which means he’s a solid three-for-three. However there is a new Mike Judge film out entitled IDIOCRACY that seems to be getting buried by Fox after sitting in the can for two years.
Perhaps it’s the subject matter that the studio found uncomfortable: Luke Wilson awakens in a future world where morons have taken over and he’s the smartest guy around. POTUS is a dreadocked pro wrestler and the most popular show on TV is called OW! My Balls!
According to Billmon, the tale has SF origins:
… the plot appears to be loosely based on a short story by Cyril M. Kornbluth, a notoriously dyspeptic and misanthropic science fiction writer from the 1950s.
To call Kornbluth a Social Darwinist would be much too kind — his view of his fellow humans was more like a technician studying a cage full of diseased lab rats than a sociologist trying to justify economic class distinctions. Kornbluth firmly believed that humanity was, as he put it, polluting its own gene pool by allowing “defective” members of the species to reproduce. Over time, he said, this would lead to the progressive retardation of the masses and the eventual collapse of what we quaintly like to call civilization.
The film is only being released in seven cities with no promotion whatsoever, but those who have seen it, including AICN and Todd Alcott had strong reactions. Alcott:
The basic concept (people are loud and stupid) couldn’t be more simple, and yet this movie takes it to such a relentlessly high degree that it becomes difficult to shake off. Idiocracy is a vision of America so specific, so obvious and yet so unique and so detailed, it was impossible for me to walk out of the theater without hearing people talking in its language, moving to its rhythms and acting according to its principles.
What’s really interesting is that the message of this movie about American intellectual decline seems to have been claimed by BOTH sides of the political spectrum. The right wing
The Corner on National Review Online writes:
But why did [Fox] commission Idiocracy in the first place? Mike Judge is not renowned as a creator of happy-clappy sugar-coated comedies built around plotlines from the Acceptable Ideas chapter of the liberal playbook. Beavis and Butt-Head; Office Space; King of the Hill; Hel-lo?
I can’t come up with any explanation other than that the Fox suits are seriously stupid. Which means that the Marching Morons world postulated in Idiocracy may already be upon us.
Mike Judge is not, in fact, a Nazi. He is a Reaganite conservative. But hey, isn’t that, like, the same thing? Duh? Hngh-hngh-hngh.”
Office Space tanked at the box office but has gone on to become a cult classic on DVD. We suspect IDIOCRACY may just have its own cult following in the future.
Kornbluth gets a bad rap here. He wrote a few stories using the premise stated above (“The Marching Morons” is brilliant), and then a whole lot of stories and several novels that have nothing to do with it. Some of them are even, y’know, funny. Yeah, quite a bit of his stuff is bleak, but certainly not all of it.