by William Norman Grigg
Imagine, if you can stand to, a world in which the entire population has succumbed to Hannitization, and you’ll capture the dystopian future depicted in the 2006 cult film Idiocracy.
The fictional future America (written and pronounced “Uhhmerica”) of the year 2505 is inhabited by torpid, barely ambulatory imbeciles, in large measure because of a quasi-Malthusian population imbalance: Smart people, according to the film, reproduce arithmetically, but dimwits multiply like tribbles. The result is what Huxley’s Brave New World would have been had it been populated exclusively by Epsilon-minus Semi-Morons.
Uhhmericans spend most of their time in consumption – glutting their bellies on nutrition-free junk food (Carl’s Jr. fare washed down by a “sports drink” called Brawndo), and clotting their minds with sub-puerile entertainment.
The minimal interpersonal communications that occur are transacted in a patois that is equal parts hillbilly dialect, urban slang, casual profanity, and gibberish.
Each Uhhmerican is tattooed at birth with a laser-readable UPC code that serves as a commercial interface and tracking device. As long as a particular Uhhmerican is content to be a dutiful consumer and displays no troublesome individuality, he will be left unmolested. Otherwise, his UPC tattoo will attract the immediate attention of the police, who – in addition to packing heavy artillery and wearing body armor – are even stupider than the common herd.
As a result of a failed human hibernation experiment, 21st-century Army clerk Joe Bauers – the very embodiment of the term “dull normal” – is deposited in this moronic milieu. Without a UPC tattoo, Bauers is “unscannable,” and thus he quickly finds himself in prison.
Joe uses his robustly unexceptional mental skills to escape (remember, this is a society in which even Sean Hannity would be seen as marginally bright) and is pursued by the police. After the car he’s in is remotely disabled, Joe and two associates flee on foot.
Seconds later, the empty car is besieged by roughly a dozen police, who without warning simply open up on the vehicle with automatic weapons. One particularly zealous hero deploys a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, which he is holding backwards. When the trooper pulls the trigger he sends the projectile skyward. Scant seconds later, a flaming passenger jet tumbles to the ground. Nobody – least of all the police – notices when the airliner crashes and explodes in the distance.
As with any successful satire, Idiocracy uses cultural caricature to diagnose