Sunday, October 22, 2006

'An Inconvenient Truth' and 'Idiocracy': The perfect double feature

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore talks about how the issue of global warming is something that has been ignored for so many years. With all the scientific evidence to back it up, people have continued to ignore it or have acknowledged it only to throw their hands in the air and give up. I have seen An Inconvenient Truth twice, first at a test screening and again after its release. While I highly recommend the film to everybody and classify it as a 'must see' film, there is another film which I think is of equal importance, but will never be given the credit, or even the exposure it deserves for the important message it is trying to deliver.

Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, attempts to open our eyes to the degradation of our collective intelligence with Idiocracy. It has made me realise I never quite got the social commentary of Beavis and Butt-head at all. I thought it was just a stupid show for stupid people. It didn't occur to me it was making fun of most of its fans. I guess my cynicism was just budding at that stage. While never a big part of the problem, I wasn't always aware of it. And that's one of the greatest struggles in the battle to save our brains. Not everyone is causing it, but anyone making a big fuss about the decline of culture appears to be overreacting and crazy. Crazy like Al Gore and his "global warming," I guess.

Idiocracy shows us the results of the steady increase in dumbing down we are experiencing today. The main character, Joe, an army private who sits on his ass all day and is happy to do so, along with a prostitute named Rita, are in suspended animation for 500 years and awake to the fruits of today's declining culture. Only a few corporate brands still exist, but their power is magnified. Costco now looks like a large city in which trains are required to get about and where everything from sofas to law degrees are obtained. Starbucks has morphed into a chain of brothels and small children have birthday parties at Fuddruckers, which over the years has morphed into 'Butt-Fuckers'. For entertainment, most popular is The Masturbation and Violence networks and a program called Ow, My Balls. The Oscar winner that year is called Ass which features nothing more than a naked ass which farts intermittently. One of the most terrifying things is that the Food and Drug Administration, after being bought by a Gatorade type company, seems to deem water unnecessary for sustaining life so it can now only be found in the toilet. Everyone accepts this, because after all, the hydrating sports drink has "electrolytes," right? Not that anyone knows what that means.

The language in this futuristic nightmare has been reduced to a mish-mash of hip-hop and valley girl speak so when our hero speaks like a normal person of today with correct grammar, they laugh at him and call him a fag. After an IQ test reveals Joe to be the smartest man on earth, he is taken to the White House where the people are just as stupid including the president. Cabinet members finish sentences with phrases like "...brought to you by Carl's Jr." which isn't surprising when you consider one of the cabinet members won his position in a contest.

The smartest man in the world, 500 years in the future, ponders what these crops, fed only a sports drink, might need to grow.

Does all this sound really extreme and improbable? Some might think so, but I really don't. The movie begins explaining that the world got this way because the smarter people weren't having kids, while the biggest dopes on the planet reproduced at an alarming rate. This is exactly what's happening in real life, so it stands to reason that the interests and influence of those people multiplying is eventually going to take a bigger toll than we realise. If only Al Gore would set up a power point presentation on this subject, I'm sure it would be easier to understand.

As it stands today, there's a long running show called America's Funniest Home Videos which happens to feature many of images of men sustaining testicular injuries. Large corporations, through lobbying, are able to manipulate legislation and scientific "facts" for the good of their corporate interests. I was just listening to a baseball game and was informed that the starting pitchers were brought to me by Kinko's. And I don't know about you, but my energy drinks need to have guarana in them. I'm not sure what that does, but I'm sure it's an integral part of the drink's energy boosting properties. When I've stated to people that I aim to be a stickler with spelling and grammar, I am sometimes laughed at and told there is no point as the language is constantly 'evolving'. I don't suppose they know the word 'devolving'? Lastly, let's not forget that the current President of the United States has the lowest IQ of any of his predecessors over the last 50 years chalking up a whopping score of 91.

There is so much more to this movie than what I am describing. The sense of complete ruin, while hilarious, also creates a feeling of despair. I found it too real, too possible, too...already in progress that while I laughed heartily on the outside, I am crying on the inside. I feel like my guts have been ripped out of me. No-one is listening to this message. No-one thinks any of this is a problem. Not enough for it to be taken seriously, anyway. The smart people who see it will get it, but I've actually read a bad review complaining about Ow, My Balls and The Masturbation Network as though they were too crass and failed to be funny. He didn't seem to understand the humour was in the horror that they existed.

This movie makes such a great statement, and hardly anyone will see it. After some feedback in test screenings and Mike Judge's refusal to make the studio's suggested changes, 20th Century Fox decided to passively bury this film. It only screened in Toronto, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles (not New York) and with no promotion, so this film is virtually stillborn. Perhaps the studio chose to kill this film as it conflicts with its goal of keeping its audiences stupid. Hopefully, it will have a new life on DVD which it so richly deserves. It's not perfect. The plot is pretty basic and some of the CGI is crappy, but it just doesn't matter. It all kinda fits with the crumminess of the world you're looking at. The plot couldn't be any more complicated because the people in the movie are too stupid for anything more. It makes perfect sense.

So how are we going to make things any better when we are constantly rewarding the stupid? A dipshit on a reality show doesn't know if 'Chicken of the Sea' is chicken or tuna, or where the meat in buffalo wings came from so they made her the spokeswoman for the tuna and a buffalo chicken pizza! A young lady released an album recently. We don't really know what she does, but she's pretty famous and no one seems to know why. In any case, we seem eternally interested in what she is doing. We were first introduced to her as she lay on her back getting fucked by her boyfriend. All I know is that she's very rich by birth and she wasn't a singer until after the world saw her getting porked. Now we care about her. Music channels don't show music any more, but as much skin of spoiled brats as they can. They create new music channels to show music, but those too eventually morph into a sea of reality shows giving us snapshots into the trashy lives we should want to lead. How are people supposed to pick up and move on when this what they are confronted with? It gets harder and harder to get away from this kind of thing.

Just yesterday, still frothing at the mouth after seeing Idiocracy, on the front web page of The Age newspaper from Melbourne, the main story was of a boy whose home had been burglarised and from which his blue tongue lizard was stolen. The large image showed four stills from the video, the boy in different stages of crying. I feel bad for the kid, but is this front page news? I'm just lucky there wasn't a gun in the house or I might have blown my brains out right after watching the video interview with the boy who talked about how sad he was and how he wanted to be like Steve Irwin. This was the most viewed story of the day. Of course it was. It was the largest link to click on. I clicked on it twice to relay my mortification to someone else. Is this a conspiracy? Why is the news media foisting this kind of crap on us? Because those are the kinds of things people want to read or do they want to read it because that's what they give us?

Don't they usually save this kind of emotional pornography for victims of Katrina and violent crimes?

I could go on with a million examples of human stupidity and evidence of people rallying around the most pedestrian of interests and ruining the culture for the few of us left with any brains, but maybe I'll just blog about them as they happen or this will never be finished.

There are measures in place to monitor CO2 emissions into the air, but nothing really monitoring the harmful cultural emissions pumped over the airwaves at an alarming and ultimately deadly rate. The only monitors makes sure there's no swearing or genitals (which are hardly the problems on their own), and then it's good to go! I ask you, if the population gets dumber, how are they going to sustain it? We are on the path for ruin of our civilization.

Idiocracy gives me a sense that I am not alone in this world in seeing the completely wretched path we are headed down. It makes me feel like I'm in a world gone mad and so few can see it. Either that or this was a movie made by a crazy person that only other crazy people understand it. Like the leprechaun! (Watch the video. Mind, this was reported on the news)
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