Between the unfettered racism, tone deaf bureaucrats and the complete pulverization of any value in fact-checking, this election season has to be ugliest hydra of bad news we will ever see (let’s hope). People have never seen our government in such a reprehensible light. No matter the political sphere, we can all agree that our way of life is headed towards chaos.
Or is this state of affairs something we have always lived with, and are barely starting to notice? If your Seize the Means meme collection is growing out of hand and you’re ready to get all political … grab yourself a drink (or 3) and comfort yourself in the knowledge that Western Civilization has always been rather bad at rule and order, and all we can do is laugh about it.
Brazil (1985) Terry Gilliam
Government employee Sam Lowry realizes the State has made a clerical error that could put an innocent man’s life in danger. Unfortunately, the highly inefficient government makes the correction of this mistake impossible, and Sam is left jumping through bureaucratic hoops to simply do his job. His attempt to solve the problem could embarrass the government, and is met with a ridiculous amount of resistance. The society that he lives in values consumerism and ideology over accuracy and efficiency. Fast-forward to 2013, and future presidential candidate Ted Cruz decides shutting down the US Government for 16 days in protest of the Affordable Care Act, and speaking nonsense for over 21 paid hours is a tactical and sensible approach to getting things done.
Idiocracy (2006) Mike Judge
A military experiment goes awry as two cryogenically frozen subjects awake 500 years into the future. To their horror, humankind never really figured out how to handle the issues that press us today, or possibly decided the solution wasn’t profitable enough. Society no longer knows any better, and is kept complacent with consumer goods and a media outlet that preaches to hedonism, violence and depravity.
Judge take his reputation for political commentary to the big screen, and instead of going the route of dry humor like King of the Hill, he happily goes full Beavis and Butthead for an hour and a half of total devolution. He perfectly captures the absurdist postmodern humor that was brewing online in meme culture, and gives us a peek at what life would be like if the world were overrun by trolls. At best, it’s a hilarious snapshot of Bush-era incompetence, but is also an ever-relevant warning of the consequence of living unsustainably, privatized education, and corporate overreach.