How ‘Idiocracy’ Went From An Afterthought To An Uncomfortably Prescient Cult Favorite

10.13.16 2 weeks ago • 13 Comments

20th Century FOX

At a recent 10th anniversary screening of Idiocracy, director/co-writer Mike Judge explained what sparked the initial idea. He was at Disneyland with his two daughters when two women, each pushing a stroller, started screaming profanities at one another behind him in line. As he stood there trying to ignore the argument unfolding behind him, he began wondering if this was what Walt Disney had envisioned as the future for his theme park.

The year was 2001, coincidentally the title of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science fiction film that envisioned a world filled with space travel and thundering classical music. With the irony not lost on him, Judge began the first outline of what would eventually become Idiocracy, a 2006 film in which Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), the world’s most average man, wakes up to a bleak, corporate-overrun future devoid of intelligence.

If, as someone who watches cable news and/or experiences the drawbacks of social media far too often, you feel as though you can relate, then you’re not alone. Idiocracy has become a bona fide cult classic and a cutting satire that, while designed to present an exaggerated sense of pessimism and lampoon America’s slavish devotion to consumer culture, has instead wound up mirroring our society just a bit more accurately than anyone had anticipated. The film has, perhaps consequently, earned a devoted fan base. But like many, Idiocracy‘s path to becoming a cult favorite began at a seeming dead end.