What About This?

By Wayne Cipriano

You know, life is never like the movies, except when sometimes it is. Have you ever seen the movie CONTAGION? If you haven’t, or haven’t see it lately, don’t watch it until they get a handle on the coronavirus thing or whatever they are calling it now.

Yes, now that California and Australia have stopped burning and the Senate has brought an end to Impeaching, the virus is all the hysterical media have for the moment. But, that doesn’t mean that this virus is not very important and very dangerous even if it is being hyped right now.

The parallels with CONTAGION are remarkable. Governments start by denying the depth and severity of the problem. Then they consider the “ramifications” of telling the truth: protection of the potentially infected people versus panic by the potentially infected people. Then, as things get worse, there are half-hearted attempts at containment (at least of some of the infected) and concerted resistance to an all-out pharmacological attack citing, as always, cost as the hidden problem and lack of expertise as the obvious one.

And later, but not always that much later, the age-old contention between “clean” scientific trails and catch-as-catch-can responses, trying everything as fast as possible to find a cure.

Simultaneous back-story: “important” patients getting “extra” consideration and even destroying the parameters of containment as such segregations of those “important” people struck by the disease becomes less tolerable and they are released into the “non-infected public – hoping, I suppose, that being “important” will protect them and those around them from infection. It never does, at least not in the movies. Meanwhile, slowly and inexorably, the champions of “nature” appear, suggesting that a balance will be struck once a certain number of those infected survive – or not– and the infection will die out on its own.

In the movies it is a toss up between “nature” taking its course (TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS LATER) and vaccines being developed (CONTAGION).

Who knows what will happen to the coronavirus in our real world. Will it be “nature,” will it be a vaccine? Will some other hysteria take over the news cycles and we won’t hear about it anymore? Will we all die? Probably not.

There does seem to be several responses that test our sense of propriety, illness-wise: Keeping healthy people on a ship or ships where a serious proportion of the passengers are infected just waiting to be infected themselves seems dubious at best. Particularly as after every new case on board ship is detected, a new incubation observation period must be instituted – believing, I guess, that two weeks without a new case is synonymous with no danger. And what about wearing paper masks over faces in very, very crowded conditions when such masks are being reported as ineffective – and then forcibly incarcerating persons caught not wearing such ineffective masks?

And still we hear lots and lots of governmental assurances that “proper measures are being taken” and “everything is under control.” while no mention of the possibility of some “Typhoid Mary”-type characters moving through the uninfected population spreading the illness but never overcome by the sickness themselves.

Now, that’s the movies, isn’t it? Nothing like that has happened in “real life,” at least not that I’ve heard of, at least not at this writing.

So, it is very interesting to me to see how closely the “art” of motion pictures reflects “real life” in some of these dystopian films. How could it be otherwise and still keep a modicum or verisimilitude? But, isn’t it even more interesting how often the same series of events happen in the movies and in life – so much so that we predict the next scene at the Ava Theatre or the next week’s news on ABC –and somehow we don’t learn anything? I guess if we learned everything every time life would be a boring straight-line graph to perfection, no excitement at all. Rosalie says that’s the way she could like it.

What do you think?