Monday, November 05, 2007

Village of the Damned Idiots

-- by Dave

Now, I know all this talk about "the Village" is probably a reference to the psychotically self-enclosed culture envisioned in M. Night Shymalan's film of the same name, though naturally the reference springs to mind a multitude of other icons.

But after watching this weekend's latest in village idiocy, I was suddenly reminded of yet another movie. Indeed, it seems like we're living through it.

I mean, haven't we seen this before?
As the movie opens, all of the inhabitants (including the animals) of the sleepy American village of Beltway suddenly fall unconscious, and anyone entering the village also loses consciousness. The military arrives and establishes a cordon, and sends in a man wearing a biological isolation suit, but he falls unconscious and is pulled back by a safety rope. The man awakens, reporting a cold sensation just before passing out. At nearly that very moment, the villagers regain consciousness, seeming otherwise unaffected. The incident is referred to as a "senior moment," and no cause is determined.

About two months later, all women and girls of childbearing age who were in the affected area are discovered to be pregnant, sparking many accusations of infidelity and premarital sex. The accusations fade as the extraordinary nature of the pregnancies is discovered. All of the women give birth on the same day, and the doctor doing the bulk of the deliveries reports on the unusual appearance of the children, who all have to be taught to breathe and in general are unusually stupid. As they grow, it becomes clear that they also have a powerful telepathic bond with one another. They all know exactly what each other is thinking and, above all, it becomes imperative that they all think exactly alike, including patently false information. This ability to know each others' minds leads them into the unbreakable delusion that they know what the rest of the country is thinking.

Three years later, the village mayor, Bill Clinton (Owen Wilson), attends a meeting with the National Security Agency to discuss the children. There he learns that Beltway was not the only place affected, and followup investigations had revealed similar phenomena in other areas of the world.

In a township in northern Australia, thirty infants were born in one day but all died within 10 minutes of birth for failing to figure out how to breathe.

In an Inuit community in Canada, there were ten children born. Irretrievably stupid children born to their kind violated their taboos, and all of them were killed.

In Irkutsk, Russia, the men murdered all of the children and their mothers.

In the desert plains of north-western China, the children survived and were being employed as food- and toy-quality manufacturing inspectors.

The Beltway children, as we see, have become quite sinister. Although only three years old, they are physically the equivalent of children four times their age or more. They use a lot of big words that make everyone believe they're actually adults, but in fact they are blindingly, unfathomably idiotic, and their powers only make the stupidity exponentially greater. Not only that, their very presence and mental manipulation powers make anyone who sees or hears them be overcome with stupidity themselves.

Their behavior has become increasingly unusual and striking. They dress impeccably, always walk as a group, speak in a very adult way, are very well-behaved... but they show no conscience or love and demonstrate a coldness to others. Moreover, they begin to display powers of media manipulation that allow them to assume control of the village. All of this has had the effect of most of the townspeople fearing and being repulsed by them. They begin to exhibit the power to read minds when expedient, or to induce people to do incredibly stupid things they'd never otherwise do, the latter accompanied by an alien glow in the children's eyes. There have been a number of villagers' deaths since they were born, many considered unusual (such as the suicide of a top adviser to Mayor Clinton). It is the opinion of some that the children are responsible. This is later confirmed when they are shown convincing the public that Clinton (whom they dub "the Clenis") is the source of all evil in the universe and a child molester to boot; they further use their mentat powers to convince the village to replace Clinton with an incompetent, spoiled frat boy whose eyes make a similar glow, and then convince them he's a bold and fearless leader when disaster results, and further make them declare war on another village that had nothing to do with the disaster.

Clinton's wife Hillary, comparing the children's resistance to reasoning with a brick wall, decides to try to rescue the village from their madness by running for mayor. In the climactic scene, she confronts the children in a public debate where they attempt to convince the public that she's hiding her advice to her husband when he was mayor and the center of all evil in the universe. The evil Maureen accuses her of being a vile woman and a feminist to boot. "You came in and wrecked this place before, and it's not your place to wreck!" shrieks Sally, one of the children's leaders. Their sheer blinding stupidity finally tears open a temporary hole in the universe and the village collapses in upon itself.

The final scene is ambiguous and could be interpreted as the survival of the children in non-corporeal form. Their eyes are superimposed over the smoking black hole where the village once stood and move out of shot.

Boy, talk about deja vu all over again.

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