Tuesday 8 January 2008

Sing Yo! for the life of a Yahoo

In our recent blog discussion about becoming a surveillance society, Sarah Brush mentioned a film she had come across in her youth work — Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. This movie is well on its way to becoming a cult in its own right, partly because of the way the corporate that produced it (Fox) apparently tried to strangle it at birth. You won’t find a trailer or a website, because they never produced either. Fox behaving exactly like the kind of idiot super-conglomerate Judge is taking the Mickey out of has increased Idiocracy’s urgency and appeal. However minimally released and promoted, it has gained and established a substantial cult following on its own. It is extremely foulmouthed, but to make a clear point.

This is dark Swiftian social satire, delivered through the medium of Beavis and Butthead/ South Park potty humour. It’s Teenage Mutant Moron Brave New World a kind of Nightmare MacDonaldized Metropolis. Like most high concept movies, everything depends on the concept: if you can’t swallow it you’ll hate the movie, but if you give it a go you could well have a lot of fun.

Here’s the deal. The future is not going to be a Dan Dare hyper-intelligent Spockfest. Oh no. The dim breed like rabbits whilst the not-so-dim faff about in a non reproductive middle class fashion, with inevitable results. This genetically not-very-cogent thesis makes disturbing sociology, in the tradition of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. As the thickies go forth and multiply, celeb junk culture lives long and prospers, whilst the scientists devote all their efforts to hair care and erectile athletic products. Fast forward 500 years, into a radically informal dumbed down world where everybody is thick as a brick — they actually need cautions on bags of peanuts to warn them that they contain nuts.

They make the whole world one big teenager’s messy bedroom, in which the rubbish piles up, and the buildings fall over. High Court judges ponce about in shell suits. Hospitals diagnose using keypads like tills at MacDonalds. Doctors blow grass in surgery. In the shadows lurk sinister corporations who have bought out everything and turned it into advertising. Government is conducted by celebrities for celebrities, whilst the punters need tattoos to identify themselves, and think almost entirely in marketing slogans.
The film’s hero is ordinary Joe from 2005 who has to bash his way through all this. The pace is sometimes uneven and the odd joke misfires, but the big questions this film raises deserve serious reflection by anyone interested in not ending up as a moron. Go ye, get it in as a DVD (£5 at Zavvi just now), if for nothing else, just to annoy the Fox Corporation.


Sarah Brush said...

My that was speedy!

I still haven't seen it yet though!! Looks good. well maybe "good" isn't the word - looks insightful and faintly worrying!!

Question of Identity said...

Is it possible to make a point without being extremely foul mouthed?

I struggle with this and have walked out of the cinema before today for this reason.

I can more cope with swearing if the film is of a documentary nature eg Kes/Billy Elliot but even then I find it difficult. I don't believe I am a 'prude' - I have worked with and befriended many drug addicts and alcoholics who can use very colourful language (infact most of them respect my views on swearing better than most church goers), though feel it is more often than not out of place in films.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

I wish it were, actually, as you raise the point. I suppose coming from the culture this does, the honest answer is "probably not." They aren't using the foul language to get you to laugh at it in itself, but they are picturing it as an integral part of the mindless idiot culture they are sending up which is, I'm sure, where it belongs. When I worked in a prison, I suppose the whole foulmouth context was basically "water off a duck's back" — I find some other wise funny comics quite hard to watch sometimes, where they are just trying to work up a laugh by speaking in a particular way, rather than by the content of their routine. If everyone starts being incredibly foulmouthed all the time, and that may be the trend, I suppose it flattens the whole range of language, which is a shame... Thanks for the point.

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