Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


SmallPox 2002 - Silent Weapon...
February 5, 2002 4:30 PM   Subscribe

SmallPox 2002 - Silent Weapon...
It is April 2002, and a smallpox outbreak occures in New York. 4 and a half months later and 60 million people across the planet are dead. Tonight, The BBC broadcast a fictional documentary as if it were filmed in 2005, looking back at the smallpox pandemic that swept the world in 2002 and killed 60 million people. Heavily rooted in fact, it was disturbing viewing, to put it mildly. Did anyone else in Europe see this?
posted by tomcosgrave (22 comments total)

 
the world needs a few less people
posted by bytecode at 4:47 PM on February 5, 2002


Evolution at its finest. Man, arguably the most complex lifeform on the planet, may be felled by one of the most simple forms of quasi-life.

The Spongiform Encephalitis prions are the ones that fascinate me the most. They're not even close to being alive in any conventional sense of the word. They're basically just common proteins that are configured strangely! They don't even contain genetic reproduction code -- no nucleic acids! But when these mutant proteins come into contact with our regular protein, it causes the regular protein to mutate.

It's downright freaky.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:49 PM on February 5, 2002


Glad to see peddling fear as entertainment is not a uniquely American phenomenon.
posted by donkeyschlong at 5:03 PM on February 5, 2002


Are there many fictional documentaries that aren't satire? I like the concept, but couldn't think of other examples. (I'd consider War of the Worlds as being more fictional journalism, because it was supposedly portraying live events.)
posted by Yogurt at 5:18 PM on February 5, 2002


the world needs a few less people

So true, thank goodness the Chinese did their thing.

But fff, I reject the idea that the human race has even the remote chance of being completely destroyed, except for major catastrophic events such as a collision with an asteriod and the like. We are too resilient, too strong, too resourceful. We might cause ourselves a lot of pain and suffering, but in the end, the true human spirit will prevail, no doubt about it.

60 million might seem like a lot, but a change of perspective, think in geological time, and 60 million is just a blip on the radar screen. There is nothing to fear.
posted by dai at 5:19 PM on February 5, 2002


60 million might seem like a lot, but a change of perspective, think in geological time, and 60 million is just a blip on the radar screen. There is nothing to fear.

Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the 60 million.
posted by pudders at 5:25 PM on February 5, 2002


Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the 60 million.

Well, if you're on of the 60 millions, you won't be looking at the radar screen, will you?
posted by tiaka at 5:51 PM on February 5, 2002


Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the 60 million.

Well, if you're one of the 60 millions, you won't be looking at the radar screen, will you?
posted by tiaka at 5:51 PM on February 5, 2002


On a similar, yet thread-defying subject, is Chris Morris as clever as people say he is? I'm still waiting for "Brass Eye" to get imported to the U.S. "If this were really happening, what would you think?"
posted by gimonca at 6:33 PM on February 5, 2002


dai:

In 1918/19, influenza spread from the USA to the rest of the world. Up to forty million people died that year -- about four times the death toll of WWI.

It took seven days to spread from a single army base, to every state and province on the continent. Within a month, it spanned Europe and Asia. Within eight weeks, Africa and South America.

In major US cities, 1 in 10 people infected, died.

From the flu virus. Common as dirt. Usually just gives you sniffles for a week...

...but sometimes, it mutates into a really dangerous form.

It isn't at all difficult to see that if a really nasty strain of virus is released, it will reach nearly every living being on this planet within a month, and achieve a near 100% kill rate.

Complete extinction of the human race? Probably not: there's bound to be some mountain hermit who has no contact with humanity at all.

But it'll be a complete extinction of human society.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on February 5, 2002


This reminds me of the 1985 BBC movie Threads, which was set in Sheffield and chronicled the events of a global nuclear war.

Happy days are here again.
posted by Stuart_R at 7:12 PM on February 5, 2002


Glad to see peddling fear as entertainment is not a uniquely American phenomenon.

What you got against horror
posted by glenwood at 7:17 PM on February 5, 2002


films?


*oops!*
posted by glenwood at 7:18 PM on February 5, 2002


I hope someone put this up on one the file-sharing networks - Brits, get to work!
posted by panopticon at 8:04 PM on February 5, 2002


five fresh fish:

do you have any idea about epidemic/pandemic dynamics?

The devastating result you describe can only occur if a virus is indeed 100% deadly, has a very long incubation period, and is transmitted more easily than flu-like viruses. Otherwise, it either (1) won't kill a big percentage, instead making humans put huge resources into biosafety; (2) people will get symptoms soon enough to cause a complete lockdown of physical communications (if the epidemic is serious enough); or (3) won't infect enough people to attain the critical mass.

Take the Ebola virus, one of the cases where it's least easy to treat an infected human with modern medical technology, thus making it one of the most deadly viruses: It suffered from all three factors, so it killed less than a few hundred people in all of its recent outbreaks. Not significant on the global scale.

In fact, I don't believe the scenario you describe (a wipe-out of most of the population) is possible at any rate of technological advance in the society: when it's not advanced enough, it doesn't have fast enough physical communications to transmit it before it dies off after killing off all carriers. That is, of course, unless it can live in dead matter for a very long time, or has some kind of a stable carrier in the environment, like the plague. Which were the reasons plague (and what else? smallpox?) most closely approached the levels of destruction described by you.
posted by azazello at 8:15 PM on February 5, 2002


They're basically just common proteins that are configured strangely!

SE's reminded me of code libraries or object modules - they contain the information necessary to overcome a problem, and they change the calling code or the results in different ways.
posted by SpecialK at 9:42 PM on February 5, 2002


What azazello said. And...

No, you can name all the examples you want, but everytime, the human race has found some way to survive. Heck, it's not even that dramatic, taking account the big picture. That's why we're still here, not worrying so much about anthrax or ebola, as opposed to stains on a shirt or who wins a hockey game.

Now if we could just eradicate all this petty bickering between people, we could go a long way.
posted by dai at 10:12 PM on February 5, 2002


I'm still waiting for "Brass Eye" to get imported to the U.S.

Me too, very much so. Has anyone here ever seen any digitized "Brass Eye" episodes floating around Gnutella or any other P2P networks?


posted by aaron at 11:03 PM on February 5, 2002


hmm.. i was bowled over by Morris's 'The Day Today', but he took the idea too far with Brass Eye where it became predictable and only tried to impact with shock tactics.

His paedophile episode was justifiably lambasted. It was disgraceful.
posted by Frasermoo at 1:08 AM on February 6, 2002


sounds a lot like "the stand" to me.
posted by bwg at 6:54 AM on February 6, 2002


There was an American movie, which came out around the same time as "Threads", called "Testament", which also dealt with nuclear attack and it's aftermath. I remember watching it in middle school--it seemed well done and was incredibly depressing.
posted by altojen at 7:10 AM on February 6, 2002


I dont think we need to worry about its crummy natural plagues wiping out all humans.
Nanotechnology is the only thing that I think could do it.
Stop everything...IT'S TECHNO-HORROR!
posted by Iax at 8:26 PM on February 6, 2002


« Older Some highlights...  |  People are reduced to cartoons... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments