How many of you have seen Idiocracy after it first appeared in 2006? Remember how much you laughed during the movie, at the absurdity of the things that were going on? You were probably thinking, “there’s no way that will happen to the world; it’s just comedy,” right?
Well, more and more people are remembering the movie, and are struck by a single thought: dear Lord, it’s happening. Some people are even calling it a disturbingly prophetic movie of what America – and perhaps the whole world will become.
But how much of that is true? Are we dumbing down, or can we look at the film just as the way it is: a movie? Some say we’re far from it, whereas others say it has already come true.
What Is Idiocracy About?
Idiocracy is the story of Joe Bauer, a private with average intelligence, who is selected to take part in a military experiment. Joe was supposed to go into hibernation for one year, but conflict arises and the experiment is closed down.
Rather than being pulled out of hibernation, Joe is forgotten in the facility. When he wakes up 500 years later, he discovers that the world has dumbed down. After a mandatory IQ test, he discovers that the average rate has dropped and that he is officially the smartest man in the world.
Prophetic Actions that Have Supposedly Come True
So many things in this satirical movie are so similar to the present, it’s uncanny. One common theme in the movie is the dumbing down of the English language. In the movie, the language has deteriorated into a “hillibilly” hybrid full of city slang and a variety of grunts. Looking at the way people use words like “YOLO,” “cray cray,” “turnt” or “amazeballs,” we are not very far from it.
Just like in Idiocracy, we are also going through a drought. The government is trying to look for ways to save water, but even California is going through one of its worst droughts in history. This affected farmers very much, as their crops were dying, leading to a ridiculous increase in prices.
Perhaps the most important theme, though, is the birth rate. In Idiocracy, high IQ people are waiting for the right moment to get pregnant, only to realize that they can’t anymore. This puts them in contrast with average-to-low-intelligence people, who quickly become pregnant and raise prominent families.
While we do not have data on how many high-IQ people are born, we see an increase in unplanned pregnancies. People are not careful enough about contraception methods, and the protests against sexual education are not making things easier. Concerned parents are fearful that sexual education will make them more sexually active when, in reality, it’s probably leading to an increase in teenage pregnancies.
Lastly, in Idiocracy, we also see that the restaurant portions have increased, with fast food selling things such as the “Extra Big Ass Taco.” In the real world, the average food portion has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, putting us on the edge of Idiocracy.
The Fluctuation of Intelligence
The basis of the movie is that over the past 500 years that Joe was asleep, the population has dumbed down. An average person with an average IQ was now the smartest person in the world, and their intelligence was way below 100. The population dumbed down to the point where even the world was declining.
Going back to the real world, some may say that this is not true. Since intelligence tests were created 100 years ago, numbers have been steadily increasing. If someone from our times would be tested next to someone born in 1919, the former would be considered a genius. Some may say that we are even at the peak of intelligence.
The discrepancies only begin once different generations are tested. In a Norwegian study, people that were born before 1975 appeared to become even more intelligent as the years passed. Every ten years, their IQ would steadily grow by at least 10 points.
The problems appeared when the people born after 1975 were tested. Unlike the “before” category, which showed a steady gain, the “after” group saw a 0.2 points IQ drop every year. This means that eventually, there would be 7 points IQ difference between the two generations. Studies in France suggest the same thing.
Some say it might be because of the educational system or how the tests were handled. Others may say the tests were biased, as the “before” category had years of knowledge backing them up. So, it’s hard to say whether the results are accurate or not.
So, are we dumbing down – or are we safe? Looking at the numbers, things don’t look perfect for us. At the same time, we cannot take Idiocracy as a gospel. Technology is improving, and while there are indeed some similarities to this terrifying comedy, we have enough smart people in the world to hope we’ll still make it.satirical movie