From David Fear at Rolling Stone, an appreciation of the “Genius of Idiocracy”, the smartest stupid movie ever made.
This is Judge’s vision of the future — a landscape of staggering vulgarity and franchising run amuck, where Carl’s Jr. can take your kids if you can’t pay for their “big-ass fries,” consumers eat tubs of butter while watching the Masturbation Channel and the President is a porn star/five-time TV wrestling champion. As he mentions in the interview below (jump to the 27-and-a-half mark), Judge was in line at Disneyland with his family when two women, each with kids in strollers, started screaming obscenities at each other. “I [started] thinking, what if the movie 2001, instead of the monolith and everything being pristine and advanced…what if it was The Jerry Springer Show and giant WalMarts?” With basic human intelligence now bred out of existence, the profoundly stupid have inherited the earth and they’ve turned it into both a giant, poorly run superstore and an Orwellian dystopia sponsored by Olive Garden.
Counterpoint by Matt Novak at Paleofuture: Idiocracy Is a Cruel Movie And You Should Be Ashamed For Liking It.
What’s so wrong with this thinking? Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951’s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.
If you haven’t seen it, decide for yourself and watch the film on Amazon. (via @khoi)
Over at Trivia Happy, Phil Edwards interviewed Ellen Lampl, who designed the logos for Mike Judge’s underrated Idiocracy.
Some logos came from the script, while some came from the designers’ brainstorming sessions. Brawndo and Carl’s Jr. were written, while Lampl made logos for companies like Nastea and Fedexx once the overall look was approved. For Lampl, it was a great release, because “coming from the past constraints of advertising, it was cathartic to have the liberty to be bawdy and irreverent. Making everything ridiculously over-emphasized with bright colors, outlines upon outlines, and exaggerated drop shadows was my personal jab at the world of branding and in-your-face typography.”
WTF, America! Apparently they have banned drivers younger than 18 in the greater Chicago area after 11 p.m. on weekend nights. (That this then dismantled a program of teen-aged designated drivers is sad-hilarious.) I spent the vast majority of my 16th and 17th years in Chicago in either Paule’s giant boat-mobile or in the backseat of Ajay’s slick little number. And we were responsible! For instance, from what I can hazily recall, we usually tried to drink or smoke up while the car was not actually in motion. (Hey, it was the 80s, man.) Anyway, guess such laws make sense in a country where you can come home from Iraq and still have to get someone to buy your beer for you at the 7-11 in Vegas. Update: A reader named Fred writes: “Jason, please tell this ‘genius’ that is babysitting your blog this week to do a little research before she posts. The law she sarcastically wrote about is a state statute that took effect January 1st and covers the complete state of Illinois, not just the Chicago area. It is an intelligent response to a serious problem of teenage drivers dying from more than just drunk driving accidents…. While I believe in anyone voicing their opinion on something, I believe that they should make sure their facts are correct before they spout off. She didn’t bother to check her facts, and that makes you look bad since she’s posting on your blog.” Oh, wow.
Over at Making Light, Avram Grumer has kicked off a fascinating discussion from yesterday’s Brawndo post here at kottke.org.
Avram notes that the introduction of a product to the real world based on one from the fictional world is nothing new, citing Holiday Inn hotel and Bubba Gump restaurant chains as examples. While he’s coined the term “tlönian” for this phenomenon, based on the Borges story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” a commenter suggests “defictionalization,” a Google search of which currently places the Making Light discussion as the #2 result, so I’m thinking it has staying power.
Other notable examples of defictionalization: the Red Swingline stapler from “Office Space” (1999) (another Mike Judge movie!), the Buzz Rickson’s MA-1, made in black only after William Gibson wrote it that way in “Pattern Recognition,” and of course, Spinal Tap.
A Tap-related Polymer Records t-shirt is available at Last Exit To Nowhere, where fine defictionalized goods are sold. I’d wear it just to channel Paul Schaffer’s Artie Fufkin as frequently as possible.
And to the snackfood and energy bar manufacturers out there: who among you has the temerity to sell me some Soylent Green?
This is a movie that looks like a home run but ends up being a mishit single just over the shortstop into shallow left field. The concept is fantastic — that of a future world populated by brand-driven idiots — and the satire in that direction is solid, but the plot is weak and acts like an anchor on the rest of the movie. Not the great followup to Office Space that everyone was expecting for Mike Judge, but still worth a look for the concept and the graphic design.
Mike Judge’s Idiocracy is out on DVD in early January. Hopefully this one will find an audience on DVD like Office Space did. The movie had a very limited release, possibly because Fox didn’t really want anyone to see it.
A positive review of Idiocracy, Mike Judge’s “new” movie, a film that Fox has been loath to release and promote. One to look for on DVD, I guess.