My studio is starting to feel cozy, fertile, more and more like Jasper and Janice’s house in the 2006 film Children of Men (minus the abundant plant life). In that world, a 2008 flu pandemic has rendered humanity infertile. Nearly 20 years later, refugees pour across England’s borders only to be trapped in cages and camps. Agitators clash with militarized forces. Pollution scars the landscape. Schools rot. The rich live as they always have. Kee, miraculously, is pregnant, and Theo is charged by his (ex-?)wife Julian with shepherding Kee to The Human Project. Standard dystopian fare, but so good right now!
In 2011’s Contagion, there aren’t any Jasper’s houses, only paper doll suburbs and artificially lit institutions juxtaposed with radioactively colored Asian casinos, open-air markets, landscapes. Although sanitized, self-interested, and ghastly dull like the protagonist Mitch,1 the United States is singular in its desire to avoid/cure the bat-pig plague — at everyone else’s expense, of course.
Smashed between Children of Men and Contagion, we’re the stupid version of the of stories. In these movies, humanity is either overwhelmed by disease that moves too fast or the consequences of disease deliver a global blindside. We, however, ugh… have no excuses.
I suppose if COVID-19 killed swiftly without regard for age and underlying conditions or rendered us barren, we’d have no choice but to take it seriously.
On the other hand, since the outbreak started not even a year ago, globally, it has killed almost 650,000 and infected upwards of 16 million people. In the States alone, we’ve lost more than 145,000 people and have more than 4 million infections. Here in Florida, things are particularly dismal: we were doing SO WELL right up until the week before Memorial Day when we reopened, so now we have over 6,000 dead and more than 440,000 infections with no end in sight unless we go back to widespread shutdown.
There’s a theory from Fredric Jamison that intrigues me. My interpretation is thin, I know it, likely simplistically off the mark, but he suggests that science fiction, rather than speculating about or predicting it, writes the future.
Let’s tell some better stories, eh?
- Matt Damon to his credit, is as good being sanitized, self-interested, and ghastly dull here he was a thrilling, grasping quick study in The Talented Mr. Ripley ↩︎