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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Idiocracy. 

Is actually hilarious. It's Mike Judge's latest, and not unlike how Fox completely fucked Office Space (only to see it go on to become one of the best-selling DVDs of all time), they've totally killed this one out of the gate. Did you know it came out last weekend? Most of the rest of the world didn't, either. When I saw it with my buddy Joe, we were the only two guys in the theatre.

At 7:55.

On a Saturday night.

Opening weekend.

Salient information here.

Ignore the tedious script summary of the opening sequences and skip right to this part:

The film was originally titled "Uh-Merica" and later referred to as "3001" (this title was always known to be a place holder title), and was shown to test audiences around March 2005. There were unofficial reports of very poor ratings from that viewing. Some re-filming purportedly took place in the summer of 2005. Release was even further stalled, possibly relating to a civil suit in which several companies (Costco, Starbucks and Fuddruckers) were unhappy with the way they were satirized in the film.

In April 2006, a release date was finally set for September 1, 2006. But less than a month before it was set for release, numerous articles [1] revealed that the film's release was to be put on hold indefinitely. Although the release went ahead as planned, it was only a limited release (125 theaters), as opposed to a wide one (2,500-3,000). Initially, the film has been released only in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago and three cities in Mike Judge's home state of Texas--Dallas, Houston, and his hometown Austin.

According to Austin360.com, 20th Century fox, the film's distributor, has done nothing to promote the movie -- no trailers, posters, television spots or even press kits for media outlets are being provided.


(Not quite true. I did see a poster -- once -- in the theatre I saw the movie in, a week before its release. By the time it actually came out, the poster was gone.)

I would also recommend reading the Austin360.com article. That reporter finds that almost no one is talking... and you can tell sources are slim when the reporter turns to the nutsacks in the IMDB message boards for reasoned reviews.

(Seriously, IMDB.com is a good factual resource and an absolute breeding ground for people with no critical thinking skills and a lot of loud opinions. It's a frightening combination.)

But what is it about this country and satire? Do we not actually have a sense of humor anymore? Are we so cowed, so dull-eyed with straightforward story, that we can't distinguish the message from the messenger?

I ask because about half the people who talk about Idiocracy don't seem to get that it's not a celebration of vulgarity. (For that matter, neither was Beavis and Butthead.) Both use vulgar humor effectively, but anyone with even an ounce of sense (or anyone who's read an interview with the articulate and intelligent Judge) can distinguish between merely reveling in self-absorbed stupidity and venting anger at it.

Mike Judge has long decried the rise of narcissistic stupidity in the world and America in particular. Beavis and Butthead were both his avatars of this perfect self-absorbed ignorance, and in case you didn't notice, they got kicked around quite a lot by all kinds of people. The horror of it, of course, is that the two boys are so oblivious to anything around them that they don't get it, and so continue on in their meaningless existence completely unchanged.

Humor is rage transformed. Idiocracy is a perfect example, and an excellent satire that works on both obvious and subtle levels. It takes a true master to use vulgarity to make sly observations, and Judge is just such a guy.

See it if you can.

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