DM168 Reflection

How did America get here? ‘Idiocracy’ predicted it all

US President Donald Trump EPA) and Terry Crews as President Camacho in Idiocracy.

How did the “most successful and richest nation in history” manage to produce millions of desperados, misfits and outlaws who are now on a major collision course with their own government?

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

It was created by the man who has also gifted our long-suffering civilisation such subtle and dignified characters as Beavis & Butt-Head, as well as the uber-geek sort of comedy but now legendary Office Space.

Never was Mike Judge as brilliant though as he was in his 2006 lowbrow masterpiece, Idiocracy.

Co-written with Ethan Cohen and directed by Judge, Idiocracy was low on budget and comically bad in the effects department. The outdoor scenes were sometimes so badly done that it verged on the ridiculous – Judge might as well have hung up a sign saying “Imagine an entire city devastated by centuries of stupidity and incompetence here” and the effect would have been the same from the production values point of view.

And yet, it was funny, and cutting, and now feels disturbingly prophetic.

The movie follows a path that transports the two main characters, a “most average man in the US army” and a DC prostitute (*Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph) 500 years into the US future. Imagine the entire United States as an enlarged set for The Jerry Springer Show (Trump was still only a mildly successful reality TV star and a failed real estate developer in those days), and you get the theatre for Idiocracy in 2505, where stupidity/moronity is the norm, where humour is focused on bodily fluids and gases, and the entire economy grinds to a halt when they run out of French fries and burrito covers. And yes, everyone wears Crocs, because, “You’d have to be an idiot to wear these!”, in Judge’s words.

In this vision of a dystopian future, the US is controlled by massive corporations, such as a mythical Brawndo (The Thirst Mutilator – because it has electrolytes), while the real-world brands like Starbucks and Carl’s Jr bundle sexual services with their lattes and burgers. (In an act of supreme irony, Carl’s Jr CEO Andrew Puzder was Trump’s original choice for Labour Secretary.) Their slogans have been masterfully transformed to satisfy a world in which our worst swear words sound like nursery rhymes. And, God, they’re funny!

The celebrities rent their names to those same big brands, as in: the US President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, a former wrestler and a porn star. Played brilliantly by Terry Crews, his State of the Nation speech is just priceless.

In 2505, everyone in America is a complete idiot. And I mean, everyone.

I shall stop spoiling the movie here – you should do yourself a favour and watch it.

Idiocracy’s cheeky treatment of the big brands created a backlash, and the movie distributor, Fox, was not enamoured with the way Fox News was presented (very funny though). So they killed the movie in the theatres, while it still ultimately turned profitable by earning $9-million on DVD release.

In the early days, it was harmless fun to watch Idiocracy, as it was just too far-fetched. Not many could have foreseen the rise of Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and then the arrival of Voldemort himself, one Donald J Trump.

In 2007, I asked my friend and collaborator Kevin Bloom to write a review of Idiocracy for our media and culture magazine, Empire. Later, every time the GOP would make election inroads (2010 and 2014), I would re-run Bloom’s review, just for fun.

Idiocracy: a chronicle of our future

But then, in 2015, Trump arrived, and suddenly there was no distance between the picture of masses attending his rallies and the stills of the moronic masses depicted in Idiocracy. The same crude language, the same haze in the eyes, the same “I like money, we should hang out.” (Cohen himself said that he didn’t expect the movie to become a documentary by 2015.)

With Trump’s ascent, this was not a joke anymore. Idiocracy has arrived, some 490 years too early.

Idiocracy: A Gospel for the New Aeon

The world’s superpower is now reeling after four years of being controlled by idiots, enabled by their incompetent lackeys, who now threaten to annihilate the country for having the temerity to vote for Biden. Trump’s second impeachment is rocket fuel to their already considerable fire, stoked by right-wing propaganda and ridiculously imaginative QAnon conspiracy theories. Someone just needs to light a match and these real-life Idiocracy extras would love to burn everything, for free.

How did America get here? How did the “most successful and richest nation in history” manage to produce millions of desperados, misfits and outlaws who are now on a major collision course with their own government?

And how is it possible that the word “patriot” now applies to a bunch of gung-ho yahoos who dream about shooting all day long and cling to the US Constitution that they are often too illiterate to read and too vacuous to understand? Their use for the Bible is limited to helping fortify their racism and homophobia, their desire is to burn.

The answers, my friends, to all these questions are there for all to see. Just watch Idiocracy. And be afraid. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.

  • At 9.15am on 17 January, this article was amended with the correct name of the Idiocracy actor, Luke Wilson. 


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All Comments 15

  • Tramp and Hilarious Clinton were the ‘best’ candidates of 380 million Americans in 2016. In 2020 Hilarious Clinton ceded her post to a visibly senile Joe Xiden blessed by huge ‘patriotic’ corporates providing financing (in exchange of ?), and supported by the radical extreme left plus thug squads, controlling the once Democratic, now DemockRat Party, obssessed in getting the absolute control and power over each of their citizens, their way of life and ordering harsh punishments to dissidents and opponents. It seems there is no place for moderation now. Tramp is/was a link. The chain of Idiocracy continues. By the way, for the new Idiocrats in US we are still the Joe Sithole country in Africa. Don’t expect more benevolence or ‘good will’ coming anytime soon.

  • It seems as if any comment, no matter how ludicrous, can get published – so long as it is anti-Trump. Past natural and political disasters pale when seeking something derogatory to say about Trump. He was worse than Hitler, he was the devil incarnate, he was …. Time for a bit of balance Daily Maverick? J Brooks Spencer, associate editor of DM is not the one to lead the way, judging by the labels he has attached to The Donald in the past. There must be somebody at DM who is a moderate.

    • He was not smart enough to be evil.
      Its very difficult to be neutral about Trump. I can liken his term as to a dozen chimpanzee with a typewriter. They may type up the world’s most beautiful poem by simple luck of statistics but would you commend them on it? They may not be even aware that they did something good.
      Same applies to Trump. He did and said so many random things that some of those were bound to be actually for good. Commending him on it? Why? He may not be aware or remember those things happening. Guy lives in the moment and cannot plan as far as his dinner. He is a criminal who realized that the best defense is offense and running forward (if you owe little the bank eats you, if you owe big enough the bank wants to keep you alive).

      in my opinion DM is balanced and you are busy complaining on an opinion piece. This is not NEWS, this is an opinion piece that DM chose to publish.
      Write up something from a different point of view and send it to DM. I’m sure they will consider publishing it.

    • Like I said above, there is no place for moderation now. If you are “conservative” or (God forbid) “pro-Republican”, automatically you are tagged as “fascist” (even though ‘fascism’ was invented by the left), “Nazi”, “white supremacist” and any other leftist liberal adjectives in fashion. And in the US for now, calls are made to hunt you, where you work to demand your sacking, ban you to get another job, cancelling your bank accounts, insurances, and if you are labelled a “terrorist” for your moderate ideas, even to ban you to fly in airplanes.
      Their warning is “don’t make the list, don’t think different from us, or you will see what we are capable of…..ah!, and by the way, you must make penance ($$$) for your ‘being privileged from birth’ and ‘having been born white”…..

    • Sometimes there are just no two sides.Isis, Malema and now Trump. Scraping around to find one redeeming feature or parotting the nonsense he was feeding his cult followers ( like JV SL on this page) is frankly pathetic. Sure there may have some seeds of basic conservative policy on which respectable people could agree, but then you have to look at follow through and the intellectual and emotional capacity to follow through and succeed. Because of his flaws he was more than a failure, he was a disaster.

      • “Sometimes there just no two sides”……Yeah, ne?….”Either you think like me or you are pro-Tramp, pro Hillary, pro-Julius”….and then you say: “Sure there may have some seeds of basic conservative policy on which respectable people could agree,”….an oxymoron…

  • If Biden is not a ‘moderate’ … are we supposed to believe Trump is ? It took a Republican of the stature of McCaine to expose the idiocy of Trumpism while the rest of the spineless ones huddled together in McConnell’s elaborate tunnels of delusion. It took a woman called Cheney to wake him (and a few others) up from his slumber of delusion. No doubt, the Trumplicans are going to exact a heavy price from her, for her willingness to ‘stand up’ and subscribe to a ‘principle’, rather than pledge fealty to an ‘Apprentice’ president.

      • JV SL, on which planet do you live? Anybody is better than Tramp! Even the tea lady at the Oval Office. Tramp is a narcissistic, foul mouthed thug with no respect for any one except himself and he caused irrepairable damage to the USA and the world in the 4 years he redecorated the White House to become the Black House. I hope the world never has to see him again after Wednesday!

        • Which planet do YOU live? Do you believe that Julius Malema is better than Ace Magashule in the local scenario?. Do you believe the thugs ransacking and pilfering and burning without control over there and where approved by Kamala Harris and Joe Xiden are better??….Why is it better choosing a crook over another crook?

  • It’s a mistake to think that the US is being controlled by idiots. It would suggest that they’re just fools bumbling along. It’s quite the opposite and much more scary. These are highly educated people. Fox News isn’t run by an idiot or have a board full of idiots. Nor is CNN. Ted Cruise has degrees from Harvard and Yale. Lindsey Graham has a doctorate in law. So does Kaleigh McEnany. Trump himself is a TV reality star and doing that very well. And so on and so forth. What we see in America is purposeful.

  • So glad someone in the Mav brought this movie up – I’ve been quoting it for years! But while Idiocracy manages to point out the many perverse incentives within the US democratic system, it fails to understand how fragile democratic systems can be. There is a theory going around that no significant democracy in the history of the planet has lasted for longer than 250 years and that the USA may just be reaching the end of its expected life-cycle – as evidenced by the slow corrosion of its institutions over the last 50 or so years. My take away from this is that a lot of people are taking democracy for granted, as part of some kind of natural progression of mankind, but in reality it’s hard, and constantly under threat, quite often from within. For a duopoly (such as the united states) it is fundamental that each side recognizes the legitimacy of the other. The democrats have been seriously undermining Trump’s legitimacy for the last four years (perhaps justifiably, perhaps not), but unfortunately in so doing they have also been undermining the democratic process as a whole. It showed a remarkable lack of prescience to not realize that on an electoral loss, the Trump faction would do exactly the same thing, further undermining the democratic process. Perhaps this is just how democracies crumble?

    • You are right. The Democrats have been throwing impeachment threats around for a while. This is destabilizing. An impeachment passes or not depending on the political balance in each house. Now the Republicans will move to impeach Biden (perhaps for very the very good reason of family enrichment while VP). The impeachment genie needs to be put back in its bottle.
      Correct me if I am wrong, but surely for a President to be impeached, the motion needs to be passed by both houses?

      • Same question. So, when the Senate passes its decision, surely there will be investigations where the negligence (FBI) and veracity on the accusations will become evident/confirmed/denied. What will happen then if the results become negative/inconclusive/false like in the first impeachment case ??…..Will the Wicked Witch of the Capitol resign??….

      • It needs to be by a simple majority in the House and by two thirds in the senate. Although I believe there can be no President more worthy of double impeachment than Trump it does seem a weakness in the US constitution that this could be too easily done. But having said that it hasn’t happened too often. Even Nixon avoided it because he saw the writing on the wall. The only writing this character sees on the wall is that he won by a landslide.

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