The Rapid Decline

The Idiocracy is Anti-Christian

If you haven't seen it yet (and can tolerate some off-color humor), the movie "Idiocracy" (by Mike Judge) is worth a viewing.

It's been discussed to death, so I won't rehash everything here. I will instead remind you that its premise is that as birthrates decline for higher-educated folks, they remain constant (or rise) for those of lower socio-economic and educational standing.

The end result? After five hundred years, society has degraded into a world of morons. The film is filled with sight gags, including:

  • Advertising plasted over every conceivable surface (shirts, walls, cars),
  • Utterly tasteless entertainment,
  • Mountains of garbage that reach to the sky...

--and so on.

It also paints a world of diminished mental capacities:

  • Language: people don't know how to read, and speaking proper, complete English is derided as "fag talk" (as slang is preferred),
  • The arts are uniformly rejected, replaced by aggressive and lewd sexuality,
  • People can't believe that water is actually healthy for living things, instead preferring sugary sports drinks.

This list could go on--the movie is meticulously crafted to really act as a 'send up' to modern society, and it hits the mark frequently. Maybe the plot itself isn't so good, but its overall message is clear: our over-reliance on advertising, mass culture, and entertainment-driven experiences drags us all down into some kind of intellectual dystopia.

A Telling Gag

The movie's been discussed to death, but I haven't heard much commentary on this particular image that takes place early in the film, as the protaganist is seeking help at the local hospital:

This joke functions on two levels:

  • A clear nod to the old "PLAN AHEAD" joke (where the text runs out of space before the final letters can fit on it)
  • A mild sendup of Christian hospitals (consider various faith-based hospitals like St. Jude, etc)

I also feel it hits on a third level: an indifferent attitude toward Christianity.

The Idiocracy is Libral, Ecumenical

Obviously, it's not correct to view "god" as a saint--so what's the meta-message here?

I interpret the hospital sign as representing an amalgamation of all Christian denominations (I say "Christian" because there is a cross next to the wording) into a generic, "god-based" one, the umbrella under which the hospital provides its services. The aggressive, anti-intellectual forces at work in the film naturally result in a culture that would be openly hostile to knowledge; thus, any knowledge of individual saints, specific denominational beliefs, and so on--would be swept aside casually.

The subtleties between denominations with respect to 'sainthood' (and indeed, answering the question "who is a saint?") are obliterated in this approach--in much the same way that subtleties in the intellectual landscape are destroyed by the crushing weight of the advertising industry in the rest of the film.

This style of argumentation (that is to say, the art of "using one's noggin") is of course, passe, as we see in our time, a broad rejection of the intellectual pursuits in favor of our own intellectual indifference and sight gags--even within the Church.

Idiocracy in the Church

It's a fun thought exercise to imagine how Church would be portrayed in the idiocracy. Maybe we'd find:

  • Advertising plastered over every surface
  • Loud, canned music
  • The inability to discuss subtle Theological concepts
  • A rejection of learned speech ("there's that 'fag talk' again")
  • Avoiding references to specific doctrines or Biblical saints ("St. God" for example)

It's a good thing we don't see these things happening in our Church today!