Warning: The following article contains minor spoilers about the plot of Don’t Look Up
Don’t Look Up, the satirical end of the world film by writer and director Adam McKay, began streaming on Netflix on Dec 24, and over the holiday weekend, quickly became the most-watched film on the streaming service in 88 countries. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting, largely in vain, to warn humanity that an approaching comet will destroy virtually all life on earth. And now it’s reminding people of yet another dystopian film, Mike Judge’s 2006 science fiction comedy Idiocracy.
But while Don’t Look Up is set in present times, Idiocracy, on the other hand, tells the story of an average guy named Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) who is chosen for a military experiment in suspended animation. When the experiment is abandoned, Joe wakes up in the year 2505 to discover that he is now the smartest man alive due to the gradual dumbing down of society.
This is hardly the first time people have drawn comparisons to Idiocracy in the recent past. In fact, people made that comparison practically incessantly during the entire Trump administration — as many people do appear to be getting dumber as the result of misinformation campaigns and fringe alt-right politicians. Though, it’s worth mentioning Idiocracy has a decidedly more hopeful ending than Don’t Look Up, which is predictably bleak to the finish.
At any rate, in the days since Don’t Look Up hit Netflix, people began connecting the dots on Twitter. “Unlike Idiocracy, which takes place in the distant future, Don’t Look Up takes place in the present,” tweeted author Kelsey Hightower.
“I’ve seen people describing Don’t Look Up as the Idiocracy of 2021, and I completely agree with that,” added artist Grant Gould. “I LOVED this movie.”
Comedian Jourdain Searles pointed out that the two films would make a “double hell feature.”
One user even posted a side-by-side comparison of President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews) from the respective films.
But then the discourse set in, as Don’t Look Up has gotten mixed reviews from critics, with many panning the film entirely. Atlantic writer Tom Nichols called it a “bad Idiocracy remake” that was “directed with a sledgehammer.”
“Probably time we acknowledge that Idiocracy isn’t great either,” tweeted user @StolenDans.
But however you feel about Don’t Look Up or Idiocracy, we can probably all agree that the United States (and the rest of the world, at large) seems woefully unprepared to deal with a killer comet hurtling towards the earth or a corporation eventually buying out the FDA, FCC, and USDA and replacing our water supply with a sports drink. With any luck, fiction will stay stranger than truth in these instances.