Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Genre Character of the Week: Cpl. Joe Bauers

As I’ve said in many of my previous posts I’m a fan of the characters who step up when called upon, usually those characters however, tend to be go-getters from the beginning. Our genre character this week actually made a career out of not stepping up, until circumstances demanded him to save the world. This week we’ll look at Cpl. Joe Bauers (pictured left), from the 2006 film Idiocracy.

At the beginning of the film, Joe is shown to be a librarian on a military base, somewhere in the United States (as someone who is working towards being a librarian, Masters Degree and all, I like films about librarians.) His job mostly appears to be sitting around doing very little. He comments to his superior that throughout his military career whenever offered the choice of Leading, Following, or getting the hell out of the way, Joe has always gone for option number three, which he is informed isn’t actually an option. The military has a new suspended animation project it needs a guinea pig for and Joe is volun-told to take part. Joe is supposed to be put in suspended animation for a year, but due to general incompetence, his project is forgotten and he awakens after 500 years in a dystopian America which rivals those of 1984, Mad Max and others. Due to a lack of natural predators and unmonitored breeding, humanity has become really, REALLY stupid. Society functions (?) mostly with the help of computers which tell the citizens what to do, and with an average modern intelligence, Joe turns out to be the smartest man in this future world.

In this crazy world, Joe finally meets his potential, and quickly (after getting arrested and imprisoned) becomes a world leader. The film is really funny and with its limited theatrical release a lot of people who would have liked it probably missed out. What I like best about Joe is that even though he is put in a terrible situation, and spends a significant amount of the film trying to escape it, he actually comes into his own there, becoming a pretty great (if somewhat clueless) guy.

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