I rented Idiocracy this weekend – the movie that the studio and everyone else hesitated to release because it calls out America for dumbing itself down and forsees a bleak future for the country. It’s bleak because the people who are too stupid, drunk or ignorant to use birth control end up overpopulating the country while the smart, cautious, high-IQed people wait to have kids and end up not having any. Therefore, in the year 2505, our nation is governed by a porn star and his cabinet is full of idiots and people who won their jobs in a contest. Which actually is as good an idea as any. If America could vote for government officials via text message or remote control after a live, twelve-week TV audition, you better believe voters would turn out in record numbers. As ridiculous as the premise seems, it actually worries me that it’s kind of close to becoming a reality.
It’s a smart and depressing movie. It’s like a vision of America overrun by American Idol contestants, but not the good ones, the ones from the first episode of each season where delusional people who sing while hacky sacking and flipping their devil sticks audition and then actually cry when they realize they aren’t goin’ to Hollywood. But if you’re delusional enough to think devil sticking is a talent, maybe it’s time you founded Burning Man Idol or Phish Parking Lot Idol.
The movie is filled with Simpsons-like subtleties – background signs and gags that are as funny as any of the dialogue. America is now labeled “Uh-Merica” , dilapidated buildings are held together with rope and the Secretary of State says “I’m the Secretary of State. Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.”
This would all be really hilarious and easily brushed off, if it was not for the segment I saw on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday (because the only thing I like to do to cap off a crazy weekend of Netflix watching is getting up early to watch a healthy dose of Charles Osgood – -I wonder if Lindsay Lohan needs a roommate in rehab, because something’s gotta be done to tame my wild ways). The news story was about the tradition of naming things – buildings, colleges, towns – after people and companies. Which is all fine and good until the people and companies turn out to be Enron and Tyco and your town is named for an insider trader who is now trading cigarettes for the safety and integrity of his bum bum. I don’t have a huge problem with a company paying to slap their name on something because for instance, the Boston Garden will always be the Boston Garden, even if it was the Shawmut Center and then the Fleet Center and now the TD BankNorth Center. But the Idiocracy part of all of this is that towns like “Dish”, Texas which, according to CBS “got its name when the Dish network offered free service to any community that agreed to rename itself “Dish.” The town of Clark, located an hour north of Fort Worth, took them up on it.” Are the Dishians really that hard up for Starz! that they don’t care that they sold themselves out? Maps are going to have to be rewritten because these people want VH1 Classic. It’s creepy.
Also creepy? The fact that Goldenpalace.com bought the naming rights to an entire species. So because a gambling website shelled out $650k, the callicebus aureipalattii will now be called the Goldenpalace.com monkey. It makes me want to write a children’s book about a nosy little primate who lives with a man in a Big “Crayola Unmellow Yellow” Hat. “Curious George, Upon Browsing Monster.com, Takes a Job”. “Curious George Learns the Alphabet, With Help From Campbell’s Soup”, “Curious George Rides a Huffy Bike, But Not Without Padding and Helmets Provided by Pro-Tec Protective Gear”.
I don’t like getting all worked up about the future because it depresses me – I hated studying astronomy in college because we learned that eventually the sun will burn out and earth will go into deep freeze or some crap, and civilization will end. That makes me feel like all the work people do in their lives will end up being for nothing. History and people and relationships and technological advances will cease to exist and no record of life will remain. My Carl Sagan Loving Companion thinks thinks that my spin on astronomy, and not astronomy itself, is what is depressing. To each his own, Dear Companion. In the meantime, while civilization still exists, maybe we can just stop selling it off in bits and pieces. I’d hate to think that when the sun finally burns out, it will be for the best.