15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Idiocracy’
2006’s dum-dum dystopia Idiocracy may have been unceremoniously dumped into theaters, making less money at the box office than your average post-2017 Kevin Spacey release, but it’s since become a cult favorite amongst fans of comedy and/or sobering chronicles of America’s cultural decline. So to celebrate Mike Judge’s best movie that doesn't involve broken photocopiers, we’ve assembled some trivia about the hilariously ominous flick…
The Idea Began with a Trip to Disneyland
The seeds of Idiocracy were first planted during a family trip to Disneyland — not because the Happiest Place on Earth replaced water with sports drinks (not yet, anyway), but because Judge was struck with inspiration when “two women, each with kids in strollers, started screaming obscenities at each other.” Though to be fair, what rational person wouldn’t be screaming obscenities after a day of wrangling children at Disneyland?
The Title Changed Because of ‘Futurama’
Judge first envisioned a movie that would lampoon 2001: A Space Odyssey’s pristine version of the future, deciding it should be called 3001. He later changed the title after realizing that “that's the year Futurama's set” (although technically, it begins in the year 3000).
Screenwriter Etan Cohen Was Hired Thanks to Farts
Judge’s co-writer Etan Cohen was brought on after he pitched the idea of a “fart museum” (or Museum of Fart, as it would ultimately come to be known), prompting Judge to think: “Maybe his head's in the right place for this.”
The President Character Was Originally A.I.
The first draft of the script was reportedly “very different” from the finished film — instead of the bombastic ex-porn star President Camacho, the Head of State of the future was revealed to be an “operating system A.I. thing that was super-annoying.” Judge later scrapped this idea, realizing that the character needed to be human.
Benicio Del Toro Nearly Played President Camacho
Before Terry Crews was cast as Camacho, Judge considered casting Benicio Del Toro in the role. But then “Terry came in and just kind of stole the part.”
Putting ‘Ass’ on a Marquee Angered Local Parents
The hit comedy of the future is a little movie called Ass, which is exactly what it sounds like. For 90 minutes. Filming the scene meant putting the word “Ass” on an actual theater marquee, which angered local parents, who even complained to the police after "taking their kids to school.”
The Production Had to Kill a Lot of Grass
Idiocracy is supposed to take place during a drought (despite all the electrolytes), but it was a surprisingly rainy Texas summer during filming. This forced the production to kill a bunch of grass by covering it with tarps and even pouring gasoline on it, which Judge later admitted did "not feel good.”
Fox Refused to Promote the Film’s Release
Fox famously treated the movie like a time bomb made of dog turds, dumping it in only a handful of theaters with absolutely "no marketing campaign.” It caught people’s attention at the time since it was “unheard of” for a studio comedy.
Crews Said the Lack of Ads Was Due to Angry Corporate Partners
Why was Idiocracy treated so shabbily? Crews recounted the pervasive rumor that it was because of the studio’s association with the “real corporations” that okayed their products to be showcased in the movie, thinking they were going to be “pumped up,” only to become the butts of unflattering jokes — like Starbucks giving out (appropriately overpriced) hand jobs.
So according to Crews, Fox decided to release the movie “in as few theaters as legally possible.”
But Judge Thinks That the Marketing Fail Was Due to Test Screenings
Judge, however, has a different theory, believing that Fox decided not to market the film in theaters since it “tested abysmally with audiences” and also because Office Space only became a hit on home video.
The Film Has Been Criticized for Promoting Eugenics
Some have criticized the oddly creepy setup of the film that we often forget about. Society doesn’t just get dumber because that’s the trajectory we’re already on; it’s because “the dumb are reproducing at a higher rate than the smart.” This led to VICE arguing that the premise is basically an "elitist" argument in favor of eugenics.
Etan Cohen Was Surprised at the Trump Parallels
A lot of people saw parallels between President Camacho and Trump, including screenwriter Cohen, who was surprised, stating that the rise of Trump made him think: “Holy shit, this could actually happen in real life.”
Fox Prevented Judge From Making Anti-Trump Ads Featuring President Camacho
At one point, Judge had a plan to resurrect Camacho for a series of implicitly anti-Trump commercials — but they were ultimately nixed by Fox, who still owns the rights to the character.
Crews Held a Press Conference as Camacho at SXSW
Fox’s oversight didn’t stop Crews from hosting a recent press conference at South by Southwest in character as Comacho, announcing his candidacy for the 2024 election (we could do way worse, frankly).
Fans Have Made Brawndo a Reality
Fans of “Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator” have made the sports drink of the future into reality. In 2008, a company called Redux Beverages produced a version of Brawndo, and in 2012, Kansas City’s Hammerspace Workshop built a real-life Brawndo drinking fountain.
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).