Mike Judge’s Idiocracy (2006) offers a cynical view on the state of modern American culture. The film follows a U.S. army librarian, Joe Bauers AKA “Not Sure” (Luke Wilson), on his journey to find the ‘Time Machine” that can ultimately send him back to the present. However, the America of the future is much different than the one Bauers has come from as the minds of its citizens have become saturated by hyperconsumerism and a general lack of education. In an early scene, Idiocracy predicts that in the future Americans will be dumber because all of the intelligent people ‘wait’ before having children while the stupid people just go around having unprotected sex. This combination affords a simple-minded librarian to eventually become the future president of the United States.
The scene I selected portrays a future doctor, Dr. Lexus (Justin Long), as he tries to diagnose his patient. From the dialog we can already see the theme of cynicism. Dr. Lexus diagnosis of Bauers is that his “shit’s all fucked up” and “he talks like a fag.” This is supposed to be the doctor of the future!
The mise-en-scene also helps display the theme of cynicism in this film. For one thing the “doctor” is portrayed by a young actor, Long was 27 when the movie was filmed. This short scene also provides a not-so-subtle commentary on the state of commercialism in the US today. Not only are the walls of the hospital covered with company advertisements, but the scrubs worn by Dr. Lexus are filled with little ads as well. In fact the very name the hospital’s doctor, Dr. Lexus, seems more like the name of a corporate sponsor than the name of the doctor himself.
Although cultural cynicism is the main motif in Idiocracy, there is also a more subtle sense of nostalgia in the film. In almost direct opposition to Frompton, who uses images of the past to discuss the past, Mike Judge creates a fictional future to display his longing of the past. Mike Judge longs for a simpler, per-consumerist America while warning his viewers that if they do not revert culturally they are heading towards an ‘idiotic’ future.