America 2017: So, It’s Like, Literally, the Rise of the Idiocracy?
Forget the Apocalypse. The real threat to civilization
as we know it is already upon us, and it is the Idiocracy. [Historywewrite]
In 2005, filmmaker Mike Judge offered us a humorous look at a dystopian future in the movie Idiocracy. The film stars Luke Wilson as Joe Bauers, an army librarian chosen to participate in a one year human hibernation experiment because of his exceptional and remarkable averageness. However, through a series of unfortunate events, Bauers’ hibernation pod is lost and forgotten and he awakens five hundred years later to a bizarre world. While he slept, mankind’s intelligence, language and basic competence devolved, and Bauers, a man of marginal intelligence at best in 2005, finds himself hailed as a genius in the “idiocracy” of 2505.
Unfortunately for present-day America, Judge’s prescient film is no longer just a joke. We don’t have to wait five centuries to witness the rise of such an idiocracy. It’s already here. The United States is a reality game show with a sociopath as the duly elected host and entertainer in chief.
Don’t believe it? Well here–citing dialogue and scenes from the movie–are 10 observable signs of the utter devolution of language, intelligence and competence in recent years as evidence that we have, in fact, been dwelling in an idiocracy!
1. Idiocracy: “Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the [human] herd, it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most, and left the intelligent to become an endangered species”
Today, as religious zealots posing as politicians defund family planning agencies, criminalize abortion, and outlaw contraception in an effort to force all pregnancies to term, the “herd” will definitely become thicker, pun intended.
2. Idiocracy:”Mankind became stupider at a frightening rate…”
Remember when Americans elected a president who couldn’t pronounce the word “nuclear?” Remember when they elected a president with the mentality of a narcissistic five-year old? That one should be easier to recall. As far as the citizenry, polls reveal that Americans’ grasp of basic facts, science and evidence-based truths is loosening, and propaganda machines posing as news networks are only making it worse.
3. Idiocracy: “Humanity became incapable of solving even its most basic problems”
Just a joke, you say? Well, as politicians set policy and fund research based on their refusal to acknowledge the reality of global warming, or admit to the long-term effects of fracking; or as the insanity of expecting infinite growth from finite resources continues, the solutions to humanity’s challenges, as well as mankind’s ability to implement those solutions in a timely manner, fade into obscurity.
4. Idiocracy: “The English language had deteriorated into a hybrid of hillbilly, valley girl, inner city slang and various grunts.”
Listen to any news report and you’ll hear reporters, professors, politicians and even research scientists begin their reports and responses with the word “So;” they use the word “literally” as an all-purpose adverb to mean everything from “practically,” “virtually,” “really,” and “actually;” and complete every statement in a raised, valley-girl tone as if it’s a question. [Check out the Idiocracy courtroom scene to see where the vocabulary of our highest paid professionals and justices is heading!]
5. Idiocracy:”He [Bauers] could understand them, but when he spoke in a normal voice, he sounded pompous and faggy to them”
Intelligence ridiculed? Never happen? Well, remember when failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum called President Obama a snob for encouraging all students to aspire to a college education? The idiocracy is actually [not literally] already upon us. Really.
6. In Idiocracy, presidential candidates are merely performers with cabinet members who can’t string together simple sentences
In the movie, Terry Alan Crews plays President Dwayne Amazondo Camacho, an assault weapon toting, bling sporting, porn superstar and former wrestler in sleeveless shirts and tight pants who intimidates dissenters with semi-automatic weapons, and appoints his easily-befuddled step-brother as Secretary of Education.
In present-day America, “Terminators” become governors. Comedians become senators, and a reality television host became a president who appoints clueless cronies, evil executives, and fawning family members as his top advisors.
7. In Idiocracy, political campaigns are simply mass entertainment.
I suggest to you that the next step down from bragging about penis size (as we witnessed in the 2016 Presidential election campaign) will be actual (and, of course, televised) contests of physical strength and masculinity to see who is the better (and bigger) man!
8. In Idiocracy, the justice system is entirely punitive (not reformative or based on any semblance of justice) and metes out barbaric punishment as entertainment.
In 2017, states are still killing their citizens as punishment for their crimes, botching those executions using banned and/or experimental chemicals, and displaying the resulting spectacles for victims, lawyers, politicians and reporters to watch; all while ignoring the reality that such death sentences are often meted out unfairly due to systemic racism, jury pool bias, prosecutorial misconduct as well as perjury, forced confessions and evidence tampering by members of law enforcement.
9. Idiocracy: Profanity is an accepted part of everyday speech as well as that of professionals from judges to doctors.
In 2016, when a candidate for President of the United States introduces “grab ’em by the p—-y” into the acceptable public lexicon of little boys and girls, we are not too far away from the day when Fuddruckers evolves into, um..well, you’ll have to see the movie for the evolution of the name of that family-friendly-no-more chain.
10. Idiocracy: presidents and corporations enrich themselves at the expense of the citizenry
In the movie, hospitals are run like fast food restaurants. Courtroom trials are run like game shows. Corporate energy drinks have replaced water. In 2017 and beyond, if jails, schools, and veterans agencies are privatized, will the billionaires and former oil executives turned government agency heads in charge act with your best interests or their stock portfolios at heart?
It’s no coincidence that the just announced Word of the Year, as independently determined by three major online dictionaries are “surreal” (Webster), “xenophobia” (Dictionary.com), and “post-truth” (Oxford). The history of the world is now–I repeat, right now–being discussed and written using those very words. America’s particular detour towards a surreal, xenophobic, post-truth dystopia took a sharp right turn in just the past few months, and the evidence is there, and clear.
The moral of this story? Well, I can only speculate that Judge’s moral in Idiocracy, the movie, is: “It doesn’t take super intelligence or an above-average citizenry to save us from our future.”
For those of us still here five hundred years back in the present, the message is equally clear: if we elect sociopaths and idiots to lead the society, ignore the dysfunction, politicize the zealotry, rationalize the insanity and normalize the ensuing chaos, imbalance and devolution that result within our society, we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame, and nothing to look forward to but an eventual apocalyptic avalanche of the mountains of garbage (figurative and literal) we are creating–not in five centuries, but much sooner! Hopefully, it’s not already too late!
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BONUS GRAMAR TIPS:
For your own journalistic credibility, please note: the word “so” is a preposition. It is used to join two related thoughts:
e.g. John was tired, so he decided to take a nap.
e.g. The word “so” is a preposition, so don’t use it to start a sentence.
Using the word “so” with no preceding thought with which to connect it sounds amateurish. “So” should not be used to start a response to a question during an interview or to begin a news report from the field. (Listen to NPR correspondent Mara Lyason for how to report like a professional journalist.)
Literally is not an all-purpose adverb!
The word “literally” is used to describe the real manifestation of a figurative or metaphorical statement:
e.g. John was literally on pins and needles as he walked across the spilled contents of sewing supplies box.
e.g. Mary found herself literally floating on air as her parachute opened shortly after she jumped from the plane.
See how that works? The phrases “on pins and needles” and “floating on air” are figurative statements used to describe emotional states. They are not to be taken to mean exactly what they imply. However, when an occasion arises where they actually do apply in a real, physical sense, then you use the word “literally” to show that this typically figurative statement now has a literal application–in other words, when the phrase becomes true in a words-meaning-exactly-what-they-say sense). Despite its current, ubiquitous use, it does NOT mean “actually” “amazingly” “truthfully” “really” “coincidentally” or any of its current misuses. Saying “I was literally crying,” in addition to being redundant (crying, by definition, is a literal act) makes you sound really and amazingly (not literally) mindless.