Jesse Jarnow

idiocracy & “come to butt-head” – beavis & butt-head

“Come to Butt-head” – Beavis and Butt-head (download here)
from The Beavis and Butt-head Experience (1993)
released by Geffen (buy)

(file expires January 22nd)

The arguments that Mike Judge’s absolutely fucking hilarious Idiocracy is classist are probably correct. But, as a reason for not distributing the film (it never opened in New York) it seems far more cynical a statement than Idiocracy itself. In the film, Luke Wilson, utterly average dude, wakes up 500 years in the future to discover he’s the smartest man on the planet, the population having devolved owing to the fact that dumb people have more babies than smart people. Hilarity, of course, ensues.

Idiocracy‘s main problem, then, seems to be its form: a cheap-looking CGI comedy. Imagined on the printed page, the story is nothing more than dystopian political parable, connected to vicious satire like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and H.G. Wells’ own classist sci-fi devolution tale, The Time Machine. (Imagined as pop music it’s, uh, Devo.) That is, it puts the issue on the table. But were Fox really that afraid that the movie wouldn’t play in middle America? Isn’t that itself an insulting assessment of middle America? Or maybe the whole classism argument is a strawman, and the assholes in charge still just don’t get how brilliant it is (even after they did the same effing thing to Office Space)?

’cause, man, it’s brilliant: a whole nation of Beavis and Butt-heads, with Wilson and Maya Rudolph as the only sensible folks around. Indeed, much of the humor is drawn from the same wellspring as MTV’s preeminent cartoon meta-critics, from fantastic perversions of language (“we seem to be experimenting some techmerlogical differences”) to nearly Zen arguments (no spoilers, but watch for a joke about electrolytes). Like any dystopian fantasy, maybe it’s right. I don’t know which possible world is scariest: Judge’s vision, or the fact that it slipped through the cracks as it did.

Likely, it’s not a tragedy at all, and Idiocracy is simply a film built the age of the Long Tail, and it’ll just become a huge NetFlix hit. Speaking of which: it’s out now and, yeah, you should probably go put it in your queue.

Related: a good recent profile of Mike Judge, from Esquire.


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