A couple of days ago, I went on a mini-rant about hollow stars and studios remaking a great film like I Love You Again. It must be the week of the rant because I feel another bubbling up after watching Idiocracy and the brunt of my confusion and anger lies with Fox, their absolute bumbling of this film, their complete disrespect for writer/director Mike Judge and us, the film going public.
Here’s the brief back story on Idiocracy: Judge’s first live action film since 1999 (Office Space) was long held back from release by Fox for reasons they never went into. They claimed the film wasn’t funny enough to draw enough people to make money. Considering the cult appeal in Judge’s past (he’s also behind King of the Hill and Beavis and Butthead), this is a ludicrous stance, as Judge has his fans that would have turned out to watch the movie. I just watched it and while it’s not the funniest thing ever—it is still a funny, twisted, over the top farce that should have been in more theatres. Fox put it in about 150 theatres before burying it on the DVD release chart. Why?
My guess is that they were put off by the film’s brutal, unrelenting satire that takes an unflinching anti-corporate stance the entire movie. Basically, Fox agreed to finance a film by a man known for unconventional, original, off the wall humor—but also who has a stellar record of successful comedy—and then when they saw the scathing message of the completed film, Fox, being a bunch of self-promoting, corporate whores, took the gutless, cowardly way out and attempted to make the film disappear by not releasing it for a couple of years.
But the film has just come out on DVD and knowing how Fox attempted to bury the film makes it even darker as you watch it. Idiocracy is about an average “Joe” who is frozen in a capsule for 500 years. He awakes to discover a society so dumb, so devolved that we speak a language of hillbilly/valley speak/slang, we follow the command of various corporate entities (Carl’s Jr. rules, no one drinks water in favor of “Gatorade” like substances and there’s only one store to buy things—Costco’s that go on for miles and miles, the most popular show is called “Ow, My Balls!”) and garbage is piled so high we suffer from garbage avalanches.
I can just see the suits at Fox as they first saw a version of Idiocracy and the horror that swept across their brows as they realized that Judge has made a film that attacks every single thing they stand for as a company. There’s even a bit with Fox News as a shirtless male reciting the news, all pumped up and stupid, delivering the kind of gossip and mindless “news” that is not that far off from what is covered in great detail now. Did you happen to turn on CNN or Fox the past week when the death and funeral proceedings of Anna Nicole Smith were being covered 24/7 by any chance?
Is Idiocracy as farfetched in its future world as it seems? No! I don’t want to go too far off on a conspiratorial tangent but we are a culture that is increasingly under the thumb of corporations, political machines are everywhere, we are manipulated by various media, we’ll have barcodes/implants on us that identify us to an increasingly less free nation and we completely dumb ourselves down while unquestionably accepting the entire notion of lowest common denominator as being good enough. It’s not.
When I see a film like Idiocracy I can laugh at the “outlandishness” of the satire but I also get kind of angry, as there’s a lot of truth in its lunacy. I am pissed at Fox for thinking they can just bury the film because they didn’t like the message. I am mad at our culture in how we celebrate people with no talent (Paris Hilton anybody?) and other wastes of space. I am frightened there will come a point in which we will have nothing but a few corporation conglomerates that control the media, the items we buy, the food we eat and everything else in our lives. That stuff is already happening and it’s happening today!
Idiocracy, as a comedy, works sometimes and falls on its face as well. I laughed when I was supposed to and didn’t laugh when I was supposed to, but, Idiocracy, as a satirical statement, is a flamethrower to the corporate establishment and I’ve got even more respect for Mike Judge after seeing it. A lot of guts are required to make a movie that attempts to make us laugh by exposing the ways we are turning into a culture of force fed drones.