Rarely is the cavernous Michigan Theater as full as it was last Tuesday night. The screening in question was unparalleled (at least by my experiences) to any weeknight movie I had been to at the theater, attendance especially being considered. There was a palpapable air of excitement and readiness for The Michigan Theater to bring Mike Judge’s 2006 cult classic “Idiocracy” out of retirement, with a Q&A with director Mike Judge (“Silicon Valley”) and actor Maya Rudolph (“SNL”) to boot.
“Idiocracy” may have felt relevant under the second term of President George W. Bush in 2006, but the movie is perhaps even weightier as Republican candidate Donald Trump attempts to ascend to the presidency. “Idiocracy” is the tale of a dystopian America 500 years in the future where consumerism and anti-intellectualism have taken hold.
In the America 500 years prior, the government wants to test new hibernation machines to see if they could save their best soldiers for when they need them most. Luke Wilson (“Legally Blonde”) and Maya Rudolph (“Sisters”) are to be the test subjects. They are supposed to be in the machines for only a year. However, they are forgotten about and are left to sleep away for the next 500 years. They wake up to a drastically different place from the world they had known. In a world where “Brawndo,” a Gatorade-like product, has replaced water and you can attend law school at a Costco, Wilson and Rudolph must either return to the past or fix the chaos of the future.
Right now seems like the perfect time to be showcasing “Idiocracy.” Both as a great opportunity to re-market the film and also to make a precient political statement, “Idiocracy” acts as an allegory, warning of what our future might hold. A Donald Trump presidency would be, perhaps, the first step towards the future world of “Idiocracy”.
What’s unfortunate is that The Michigan Theater failed to deliver on anything but the bare minimum for this screening. Yes, the film was screened; however, the film was advertised as “Idiocracy” with a Q&A with Mike Judge and Maya Rudolph. It was relatively unclear that they would not actually be in attendance with the audience at The Michigan Theater but rather it was to be a live stream with them from another theater. All in all, this wasn’t the end of the world. The film would still be played and the audience would still get to hear what Judge and Rudolph had to say about the film they made. However, this isn’t exactly what happened.
Following the movie, the live stream started. Except for the fact that it wasn’t live. The first five minutes or so of the stream were shown in which Judge and Rudolph gave a little introduction to the movie and briefly talked about it. Apparently, this part of the stream was intended to be shown before the film started. Then came the technical difficulties. After a couple minutes of loading and many people walking out, the live stream came on, and it was actually live. But it was also the last three minutes or so of the stream session. The Michigan Theater then attempted to roll it back to the beginning of the post-screening live stream. Again, the stream buffered for a couple of minutes. By this point, at least 75 percent of the audience that was once in the theater had left.
“Idiocracy” is and always will be an enjoyable and culturally relevant film. However, technical difficulties, bad marketing and poor planning on the part of The Michigan Theater made this event less than satisfactory.