I’m a Sci-Fi and Horror story aficionado. Ever since I saw my first Frankenstein picture,the classic starring Boris Karloff with all of its moody tone, I’ve been hooked on the imagination and chilly fun of the genre. So, having read many a story and seen many a plot unfold on film, when I look at what’s happening with the Ebola virus, I get a rather familiar iciness running up my spine. It’s like we’re all playing bit parts in a very real, present-day thriller.
One of the things that I enjoy most in such tales is that many present a lifelike, it-could-happen-here premise. For example, Stephen King’s The Stand had the world’s end brought on by the spread of a super flu. It’s even better when there’s a genuine human action angle; something that occurs in the book or film that an actual person might really do, contrary to what we usually see in the drama or prose.
These days there’re a lot of similarities between what we may have paid to see on film and what’s actually going down all around us, which of course we can watch unfold for free. But in the manner that art imitates real life, it makes sense that we ponder just which storyline our government is willing to run with. Look at two movies, one recent and one not so much, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Before Contagion in 2011, there was Outbreak in 1995; each with its own uniquely human component. Outbreak introduced the public to the Matoba virus, a hemorrhagic, fever and diarrhea producing bug that was purportedly based on the actual Ebola virus. The movie demonstrated the global impact such an epidemic could have even on small town America.
Contagion took the concept even further, placed it in real time with people in potentially every day circumstances, with a more contemporary disease-Meningoencephalitis Virus One (MEV-1)-and showed how quickly such an infestation could not only mutate but also spread across the globe facilitated by air travel.
The CDC-approved movie also dug into the many faceted human side; the social effects of quarantine, decisions about who gets the vaccine first, how to distribute it fairly, where to bury the dead, nitpicky things like that.
It provided a realistic depiction of what an actual federally imposed quarantine might look like; the facilities utilized, the bureaucracy involved, the charity required. Other flicks, like Outbreak or The Crazies, told a darker tale of man’s insurance of his own survival; one that leaned less on the principles of self-sacrifice and more on the ideology of “better you than me”. Yet, all three have in common that one single thread; they all show that funky human thide of sings.
And it’s that human side, the question of what man would really do if faced with such a catastrophe that sometimes keeps me up at nights; because in many cases, such actions are prompted by fear. And when people are afraid then bad things happen. And if corporations are people then governments are people too. And when governments become afraid that’s when we the people really have something to be scared of.
All that’s left is that we don’t do anything really stupid; like we’re in some damned horror movie.