Idiocracy (2006) is a film riddled with stupidity, but it’s precisely its comedic inanity that has made it a cult hit and an incisive commentary on how the United States, in 500 years, is becoming a dystopia devoid of critical thought, justice, personal responsibility, and compassion and instead dominated by greed, selfishness, and anti-intellectualism. Director Mike Judge now laments that his downright satirical sci-fi film has become a documentary, placing his complaint in the context of the US presidential race.
He’s right: by any rational measure, the current race is the most surreal spectacle of political peddling ever endured by the American public. Many Americans themselves have the creeping feeling that elements of Idiocracy, especially the culture of stupidity, incivility and occasional violence, have been strangely prophetic. Yet there is a context for why the United States is breaking down politically. Like all societal problems, Buddhism has a moral diagnosis for this situation, which is that everywhere one turns one can see “harmful discourses” playing the central role in the ongoing drama.
Political discourse has been deeply degraded throughout this campaign, and The Washington Post lists some of the worst examples: “This guy is a testy kid,” complained Chris Christie of Obama, saying of Marco Rubio, “Let’s get the boy in his bubble out of his bubble. But no one comes close to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, who told rival Ted Cruz ‘You’re the biggest liar’, called Marco Rubio a ‘light choker’ and dismissed the establishment frontrunner Jeb Bush as a “bottom”. -rigid energy. Worse still, this behavior, which is more suited to schoolyard bullying, has only served to increase Trump’s standing among the electorate.
His incendiary and xenophobic rhetoric, like his much-vaunted plan to separate the United States from Mexico, borders on fascism and is music to the ears of racists. The American political and media class is scratching their heads at the way this demagogue is crushing other Republican candidates in the polls. Nothing they throw at him seems to stick. Yet they are unable (or unwilling) to see that they helped secure his popularity by incubating a public culture of anti-intellectualism and pride in ignorance and insensitivity.
It is impossible to assign blame to any single group for these developments, or even to assign proportional blame to the political left or right. It’s more about a certain zeitgeist that has become dominant in American culture: tolerance or the use of harmful speech for political purposes, as well as a celebration of ignorance and narrowness. mind that smart people have to swallow to accept divisive discourse they otherwise wouldn’t. Many examples from modern history attest to this sad phenomenon, especially in Hitler’s Germany.
Harmful speech in Buddhism is often defined as angry, violent, or cruel speech; it also includes irresponsible and misleading communication. Harmful speech agitates for resentment, social discord, and even violence (while often professing the opposite). Harmful speech can also be deliberately designed to stir up hatred, resentment and fear, whether or not those who use it sincerely believe or are convinced of a toxic worldview – the attachment to toxic ideologies is not not a prerequisite for expressing them. America’s mainstream media (national newspapers, influential magazines, journals, websites, and TV stations) have failed to take these tactics sufficiently into account, and some platforms actively engage in negative framing of demographic or interest groups. specific.
Trump is just the latest in a long history of American politicians and media appealing to latent bias to achieve political ends, whether winning elections or gaining visibility and publicity. It was never all about dog whistle politics, or Nixon’s Southern strategy of stoking white resentment against black people, or negative Hollywood portrayals of Muslims or other ethnic groups. The sad state of politics in America is the culmination of cultural, historical, and political trends that could have been prevented or at least ameliorated, but were not due to a combination of vested interests and bigotry. Together these forces of ideological attachment (people who hold certain toxic beliefs) and selfish politics (institutions that promote and indulge those beliefs for votes) have created a political culture of harmful speech and Donald Trump’s Frankenstein monster. , which offers the logical extreme of everything they’ve peddled.
The results of speaking and listening to harmful speech are nightmares. It is clear from history that using harmful speech to mislead, stir up destructive passions, or mask motivation leads to a very dark place. This place is the abyss of national collapse, world war and genocide, which led a humiliated Europe to resolve to maintain a softer political culture, whatever governments people choose (although the immigration policy and pan-European economic crises such as unemployment have given rise to a resurgence of extremist parties and hate speech reminiscent of American politics).
Ironically, some of Trump’s popularity can be attributed to a very legitimate public anger about how money works in the US electoral system. One of his main selling points is that he pays for his own campaign and is not beholden to donors. In this, he and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders underscore one of the fundamental problems of American political culture. Tragically, Trump himself is a manifestation of the fundamental problem of harmful speech deliberately incubated by decades of political expediency and fierce ideological attachment. If he means what he says, Trump will be a populist force of destruction and hatred and his poison will further cripple the American body politic, leading to a truly uncompassionate “idiocracy”.
‘Idiocracy’ screenwriter: I didn’t expect my film to ‘become a documentary’ (The Hill)
“I’d like to punch him in the face”: This election season’s incredible shrillness (The Washington Post)