Southland Tales, Idiocracy and American Dreamz

Southland Tales, Idiocracy and American Dreamz demonstrate a similarly sarcastic insight into American Culture.

Any insight into the way things has roots in spiritual realities. True spirituality looks into who people really are and what is really going on.

Southland Tales stars Dwayne Johnson as Boxer Santaros/Jericho Cane (a movie star utilized by the Republican party for political gain), Seann William Scott as Roland Taverner/Ronald Taverner (he was duplicated by the time portal), Sarah Michelle Gellar as Krysta Now (enterprising porn star), Mandy Moore as Madeline Frost Santaros (Boxer's wife) and Justin Timberlake as Private Pilot Abilene (narrator and Bible-reading sniper).

Southland Tales puts a different spin on Steven King's The Stand. The movie's writers make this obvious by changing King's statement, "This is how the world ends. This is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper." to "This is how the world ends. This is how the world ends. Not with a whimper, but with a bang."

Southland Tales tells how the world ends by depicting an amplified version of the world as we know it today: people are more riotous and misguided than ever, the entertainment industry rules the public mind and the government has become so paranoid that it encroaches on people's basic freedoms. The movies scatter-brained plot is supposed to demonstrate the end product our present scatter-brainedness.

Out of the three abovementioned movies, Idiocracy has the most redeeming qualities.

Joe Bauer (Luke Wilson) takes part in a military experiment that's supposed to freeze him and then thaw him out after one year but the experiment is forgotten and he end up thawing out five hundred years later. As Joe stumbles about in this futuristic America he witness the colossal failure of evolutionary theory. Humanity has lost so much intelligence over the years that Joe is now the smartest man in the world.

The state of the U.S. in five hundred years results from a gradual dumbing down of society. This is partly because the greatest minds of each generation have dedicated themselves to superficial endeavors such as preventing hair loss and enhancing male erectile function. Five hundred years in the future entertainment has been whittled down to the basic things that people laugh at nowadays: farting and getting kicked in the junk. The president is a former wrestling champion. He brings his congressional meetings to order by firing a machine gun in the air. People have all but lost the ability to speak English as speaking properly has become so looked down upon. The corporation that produces an energy drink called "Brawndo" has so thoroughly monopolized the drink industry that it outlaws water.

Idiocracy demonstrates the end product of people taking corporate slogans at face value. People have been bred to accept the fact that "Brawndo is what the body craves because it has electrolytes." People deduce that every other living thing, even plants, must also crave Brawndo, so they try to water their crops with it. Of course the crops fail and but people are too stupefied by Brawndo's advertising to be albe to figure out why.

Idiocracy also makes a bold statement about being excessively fixated on sex. Five hundred years in the future, there is an "adult" version of everything, even Starbucks. Men have devolved to the point that they see women as nothing more than objects of their sexual fantasies. Men's sexual fixations are one of the leading contributors to this futuristic state of idiocracy.

American Dreamz is the least constructive of the three aforementioned movies. It satirizes American Idol, the war in Iraq, terrorism and, above all, the Bush Administration. I mention this movie mainly because it resembles the other two.

American Dreamz represents the convictions of many Ameicans who look at the general direction of the U.S. and suspect that something is amiss but can't imagine how to do anything about it. Whatever truth is expressed in this movie is tainted by an unmistakably bitter undertone. American Dreamz demonstrates the fact that satire is good for inspiring thought, however it often springs out of bitterness and therefore breeds more bitterness, which is counterproductive.

Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore) is a aspiring performer as well as a manipulative back-stabber who will do anything to win top-spot on the TV show American Dreamz (American Idol). Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant) is American Dreamz' host (who happens to be British). President Staton (Dennis Quaid) is the recently re-elected President of the United States, who is struggling to understand his position as well as the world around him. The relationship between President Staton and his Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe) is similar to a ventriloquist and his puppet (the president is the puppet). William Williams (Chris Klein) is Sally's gullible boyfriend who returns from Iraq with a gunshot wound only to blow himself because Sally dumps him. Omer (Sam Golzari) is a reticent terrorist who decides not to follow through with his mission to blow himself up and the President along with him.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reviews on the three movies. I haven't seen American Dreamz, but will agree that Idiocracy is the better and more redeeming as far as having a "story" and a moral to tell goes.

I happened to have watched Southland Tales this past weekend; having bought it as 1 of 3 DVDs for $20 at Blockbuster.

The opening 5 to 10 minutes worth of the movie did have me slightly on edge, I thought "OK, there might be some potential here." Sadly, that went to the wayside. I found Southland Tales rather difficult to keep up with, a little too 5th Element-ish for me in the way the 2nd and 3rd stories turned. I kept anticipating a big reveal, something a little more defined, I suppose. Oh well, my daughters each got a movie out of the deal, and buying Southland Tales, essentially cost me an extra $1 than if I had just rented it.

Since you've mentioned it, I do recall the opening line from "Southland Tales", I kept thinking "Hmm this sounds so familiar", thanks for cluing me in about it being from the THE STAND, it's been way too many years since I last read the novel.

Anyway, just wanted to drop in for a moment, I'll definitely be back to read more reviews.

Grace and peace be with you.

Joshua said...

I have no idea if the folks from Southland Tales have read "The Stand" or not -- I realize I may be one of the few sentient creatures in this galaxy who hasn't -- but the line you reference is not from King. The line in King is a reference to the actual author of the phrase, T.S. Eliot, whose apocalyptic poem "The Hollow Men" has been tremendously influential on many, many science fiction and horror writers.

The fifth section of his poem (which I think you'll rather like):

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Pat R said...

huh, i'll have to look into it... i haven't read The Stand either to be honest, i'm not much of a Steven King fan

thx much for the cross-reference