Idiocracy in Action :)

Mar 23rd

Idiocracy is a disturbing movie about marketing leading to a dumbing down of society. In many ways, marketing seems to be heading down that path.

Using Twitter today made me further appreciate something Nick Carr mentioned, that as we use computers more we begin to think and act like computers. Short bursts. Logical but detached. Devoid of context. Always engaged in something, never fully engaged. Doing whatever is in front of us, etc.

With marketing being so easy to implement and measure, and every creator (and their dog) learning public relations, every day the web is becoming a bit more like the Guinness Book of World Records. This corn flake sold for $1,350 and this lady was stuck on her toilet for two years. And both of those stories were featured on CNN!

Content producers are trying everything to be remarkable. Some articles are so long that nobody will ever read them (the top 37,549 way to making money online, guaranteed) are being complemented by marketing strategies that aim to simplify complex topics into emotion driven sound-bytes, likeso:

State officials would not let Pro-Life, formerly Marvin “Pro-Life” Richardson, use his middle name on the ballot when he ran for governor in 2006. Secretary of State officials said the state’s policy prohibits slogans from being on the ballot.

But this year Pro-Life, a 66-year-old organic strawberry farmer from Letha, is running for U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s seat as an independent. And because his full and only name is Pro-Life, the Secretary of State has no choice but to put it on the ballot.

Brawndo, the fake energy drink from Idiocracy, has actually became a real product. Here is one version of the future of marketing

Published: March 23, 2008

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Comments

March 23, 2008 - 2:42pm

Hahaha. Wow. I'm speechless after watching that video.

March 23, 2008 - 3:55pm

What a great movie. My favorite part is the labyrinth-like Costco.

I've actually seen a Walmart that comes close to reaching those dimensions in Secaucus, New Jersey.

March 23, 2008 - 9:56pm

I've been thinking about this alot lately. The rare time I log into Myspace it seems to me that every single musician on there is using every other musician's webpage as a billboard. To the point where there really isn't a conversation going on.

March 23, 2008 - 10:01pm

I recall there will some release issues with the movie; mainly that they rushed production and didn't promote in a normal fashion. From wikipedia:

As of February 2005 the film's scheduled release date was August 5, 2005, according to Mike Judge.[5] In April 2006, a release date was set for September 1, 2006. In August, numerous articles[6] revealed that release was to be put on hold indefinitely. Idiocracy was released as scheduled but only in seven cities (Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Mike Judge's hometown, Austin), and expanded to only 125 theaters, not the usual wide release of 2500-3000 theaters. According to the Austin American-Statesman[7], 20th Century Fox, the film's distributor, did nothing to promote the movie — while posters were released to theatres, no movie trailers, television ads, or press kits for media outlets were provided. The film was not screened for critics.[8] Lack of concrete information from 20th Century Fox led to speculation that Fox may have actively tried to keep the film from being seen by a large audience, while fulfilling a contractual obligation for theatrical release prior to a DVD release, according to Ryan Pearson of AP.[9] In the New York Times Dan Mitchell argued that Fox might be shying away from a cautionary tale about low-intelligence dysgenics.[10] John Patterson of The Guardian suggests it is a result of the film's anti-corporate message, noting that in the film Starbucks now delivers handjobs, and the motto of Carl's Jr. has devolved from "Don't Bother Me. I'm Eating." to "Fuck You! I'm Eating!"[11] Also in the film, a Carl's Jr. vending machine cheats a customer, Fuddruckers' name gradually morphs into "Buttfuckers", the fictional Brawndo corporation buys the F.D.A. and the F.C.C, and the Fox News Channel is depicted in unflattering newscasts (20th Century Fox, which distributed the film, and the Fox News Channel are both owned by the Rupert Murdoch-controlled News Corporation).

March 23, 2008 - 10:19pm

That was hilarious!

March 24, 2008 - 8:24am

Hilarious video! So true about how we are all computer-like drones when it comes to marketing/conversation via internet means. Very great post.

March 24, 2008 - 10:28am

That movie reminded me so much of my schooldays. :(

It's a brilliant movie though, highly original and I'm actually glad it's a cult movie, because otherwise you'd have loads of idiots trying to quote it and getting the lines wrong and not realising the irony...

You're right about what you say about our soundbyte society though and nowhere is that more prevalent than on the internet. I should know I've churned out my fair share of soundbyte shite myself; top ten ways to do this, top ten ways to do that, all you need to know about this that and the other. It's the nature of the industry though and I think we'd all be the first to admit that the average surfer has the attention span of a hormonal goldfish in algebra class.

When writing for the web, unless you're writing something technical or academic, the rule of thumb is less words, more simplicity and wherever possible put in some pictures to keep your readership engaged. It's basically the same rule as when writing children's books.

That this approach crossed over from the web into other traditional mediums, even newsprint, is hardly surprising given the internet's enormous success and influence.

Whether this is all a symptom of an increasingly low-brow society, or simply the result of information saturation coupled with an increasingly hectic pace of life is a matter for endless debate.

Though personally I wouldn't be surprised if someday I happen by here and find that "SEO Book - Learn Rank Dominate" has been replaced by "SEO Book - It's Got What Websites Need!" :)

Anyways, that's way more than a soundbyte from me, more of a three-course meal... getting hungry now, right I'm off for some EXTRA BIG-ASS FRIES!!!

March 24, 2008 - 10:36am

Fun comment. Thanks for that. :)

March 24, 2008 - 11:37am

Stupid is as stupid does. Marketing has certainly done it's fair share. And when our society declares everyone a "winner", mediocrity thrives. 'Small' becomes 'large' and 'large' becomes 'grande', because no one likes small, except when it comes to clothes.

Great video. And I thought tequila was the only drink that could make you invisible!

March 24, 2008 - 12:12pm

Thanks for that Aaron, I have been thinking about the same thing. Is Marketing what is pushing people to this level of "idiocracy" or are people naturally lazy and want information spoon fed to them. Chicken or the egg?

There is have been a few things I have watched recently that explore this issue that I would like to pass along to people who might be interested.

Noam Chomsky "Manufactured Consent"
Story of Stuff
11th Hour

The sad truth is the way our society is structured there is no escaping these realities, at least in the short run.

March 24, 2008 - 12:56pm

thanks for those links flipsideinvest!

March 24, 2008 - 9:00pm

Thanks for the post... awesome video...

I also especially liked the story of stuff video from flipsideinvest... I appreciated it from both a humanistic and technology standpoint.

March 25, 2008 - 5:03am

...i like money tho...

lol... this film is amazing, had it for a few months now.

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