Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Viewed amid the smoldering trash heap of 2020, Mike Judge’s notion that American stupidity would take half a millennium to ruin the country seems quaint. Released in 2006, Idiocracy satirizes the stereotype of uneducated rednecks pumping out child after child while elite yuppies fuss about the right timing to procreate, until it’s too late to do so. The result, by the year 2505, is an entire populace with drastically lowered IQs. Garbage may be piled high into rancid mountains, the neglected economy may have tanked and dust bowls may ravage the food supply, but there’s so much toilet paper that regular folks have johns built right into their recliners. The biggest box office hit may be a movie called Ass, featuring 90 minutes of flatulating buttocks, but of course theaters haven’t been forced to shutter in this dystopia—that would be ridiculous. Just as Judge’s lampooning of cubicle culture in Office Space feels like a relic from an age we will never quite return to in this new normal of telework, Idiocracy feels dated when viewed nearly 15 years later. In this future society, technology hasn’t advanced much beyond the early 21st century, but there’s nothing in the way of the privacy concerns or misinformation campaigns we experience currently. Instead of achieving malevolent ends, the world’s smartest minds were too busy formulating ways to prolong erections and cure hair loss. Democracy and the judicial system still exist, albeit as some kind of boorish popularity contest not based on facts, but at least the world hasn’t been exploited by authoritarian tyrants. Judge skewers rampant consumerism and corporatization in his dystopia, where massive Costco complexes stretch to the size of small cities, and where the sports drink Brawndo has replaced all drinking water. But the film also lays into lowbrow culture, with slang overtaking proper grammar, and fashion consisting of garish bling and corporate logos. Released just a few months after An Inconvenient Truth, Idiocracy doesn’t even hint at the threat of climate change. In fact, when average military guy Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) and sassy prostitute Rita (Maya Rudolph) wake up from a government suspended-animation experiment 499 years after they were supposed to, the environment somehow seems to be hanging on relatively well. The crops won’t grow, perhaps due to irrigation systems spraying out neon green Brawndo, but there are no rampant wildfires, clouds of toxic smoke, melting ice caps or rising sea levels. As Joe tries to navigate this not-so-bright new world, and Rita quickly begins to acclimate, they will ultimately both become integral to saving society from itself (crops need water, not Brawndo). But the film does seem flawed in its idea that an increasingly stupid society wouldn’t have already been destroyed by a cunning dictator or at least the ineptitude of a narcissist. In fact, despite the relatively benign satirizing of unchecked capitalism, the dystopia presented in Idiocracy constitutes a world where secularism has evidently won out over the ever-tightening grip of fundamentalism. Judge makes virtually no comment on religious extremism here, presenting a society sapped of culture and doctrine alike, one that instead revels in instant gratification and little else. Regular folks like the slack-jawed Frito (Dax Shepard) not only shit where they eat (in front of the TV) but also masturbate openly, with entertainment systems essentially rigged to provide a steady stream of content that will satisfy autoerotic impulses. Violence is not a particular threat, but guns are nevertheless wielded with abandon in 2505, including by President Camacho (Terry Crews), a silken-haired, musclebound ex-pro-wrestler who uncorks a machine-gun barrage into the ceiling of the U.S. Capitol to emphasize his point when addressing Congress. Curiously, Idiocracy’s America is also largely without racism. With the film’s release predating the election of the first African-American U.S. president by two years, President Camacho’s race is virtually a non-factor, other than to perhaps add another layer to making him seem like an especially uncommon POTUS. Viewed in a post-satire 2020, much of Idiocracy’s hyperbole is muted by our current state of affairs. Because of this, Idiocracy isn’t a prescient satire so much as it is an entertaining form of retrofuturist escapism. It’s a throwback to a simpler time when we could swallow a premise that, even in a society absent of intelligence, America’s institutional foundation is sturdy enough to last another 500 years.