“The average person touches their face [2,000] or 3,000 times a day.”
March 10, 2020 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Why ‘Contagion’ Is Soothing Some People’s Coronavirus Fears [Decider] “The 2011 film has been steadily climbing in the Amazon Prime and iTunes charts. As of today, it was No.8 on the iTunes movies chart, and in the No.6 spot on Amazon’s “Rent or Buy” trending movies carousel. Even Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has gotten on board with the trend, telling the New York Times, “I paid $12.99 to watch a 10-year-old movie. I’ve never done that before.” The reason, of course, that so many people are watching this movie about the spread of a fictional deadly virus is that we’re all freaking out about the spread of a very real, definitely not fictional virus: COVID-19, more commonly referred to as coronavirus. And Contagion—which was directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by his frequent collaborator, Scott Z. Burns—is scarily accurate when it comes to parallels of 2020’s real-life health crisis.”

• Rewatching Contagion in an Age of Coronavirus [Vanity Fair]
“It’s worth remembering that this isn’t only a movie about the uncontrollable spread of a disease: information, as we see firsthand, goes viral too. Contagion paints swift, unsettling parallels between the spread of the virus and the early spread of incomplete information about it, thanks to a blogger played by Law. It’s not an early take on “fake news”; the movie isn’t trying to make a simple point about misinformation as a kind of disease. The sight of Gwyneth Paltrow’s scalp flapped open during an autopsy does its part, I think, to prevent corny epidemic metaphors. Instead, Contagion is trying to remind us of something much more fundamental. It’s reminding us that our global network, our world community, far exceeds the forms of interconnectedness that we typically associate with the internet. Our biology lends itself to its own kind of social network. These networks collide into and eclipse each other in Soderbergh’s movie, an act that’s equally thrilling and terrifying to watch.”
• Why people can't stop watching Contagion [Looper]
“With countries including Italy, South Korea, China, and Iran on serious lockdown and places like the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and more reporting widespread cases of COVID-19, people across the globe are looking for any concrete information they can find. In certain cases, they're turning to some pretty offbeat sources. Specifically, Steven Soderbergh's 2011 thriller Contagion has suddenly become one of the most popular films on the rental and streaming market, nearly 10 years after it first hit theaters. [...] As COVID-19 continues to spread, Contagion has found its way back onto the top streaming and rental charts across the world, becoming one of Warner Bros.' most popular titles and landing a spot in the top rentals and purchase lists on platforms like iTunes and Amazon Prime Video. It might seem counterintuitive to scare yourself with such a dire fictional disease outbreak, but clearly, some are curious about how much art might (or might not) reflect life.”
• Rewatching ‘Contagion’ Was Fun, Until It Wasn’t [The New York Times]
“In the best of times, we civilians are unlikely to have a clear sense of what to expect from our leaders and government agencies. So in addition to looking to Washington for clarity in these stressful times, lots of us have turned to Soderbergh. “Contagion” offers gymnastic catastrophe — it kicks, glides and throbs; it sticks the landing. In September of 2011, when it opened, studded with stars (Matt Damon, Sanaa Lathan, a snaggletoothed Jude Law), it was a decent hit. The movie hit me squarely in my entertainment cortex, this funny, scary, stylish, soapy, plausible speculation of life during a global outbreak. The appeal now is how it’s proving to be an instructive worst-case scenario of our current freak-out. We’ve turned to it, in part, to know how bad things could get. The film’s virus seems a lot worse, for one thing. Six characters die in the first 12 or so minutes. One of them is Gwyneth Paltrow, our patient zero. When a pair of doctors cut her skull open, they peer inside with bewilderment that radiates through their layers of protective gear. One asks, “Should we tell somebody?” And the other replies: “Tell everybody.””
• Why Coronavirus Makes You Want to Watch Contagion [GQ]
“However, if you want to take some of the pressure off of that increasing sense of worry and dread, why not lean right on in to the freakout with some pandemic-adjacent pieces of pop-culture? Margee Kerr, a sociologist and author of the book Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, says it’s natural to want to watch movies about something you’re afraid of. “One of the big roots of fear is uncertainty and lack of knowledge,” Kerr tells GQ. Watching a movie about killer sharks, spiders, or viruses can offer some viewers a sense of familiarity and confidence. “It’s still terrifying, it’s still so far out of my control, but at least now I have an idea of what to expect,” Kerr says. That’s not to say that people are browsing Hulu and hitting play on Contagion explicitly because they need a little confidence booster. “Everybody is thinking about pandemics, so we’re going to be more interested in material that is going to engage with this thing that keeps getting elevated in our awareness,” Kerr says.”
• Definitely Don’t Watch Contagion [The Cut]
“If things were going to get bad, which it sounds like they seriously could, I wanted to have an idea of how this was all going to play out, specifically the absolute, most batshit crazy, Hollywood-concocted, worst-case scenario: a nasty virus that kills 26 million people, including Gwyneth Paltrow, faster than you can say “Goop!” I’m not alone. According to Warner Bros., Contagion is the second-hottest movie in its catalogue (up from No. 270 in December), bested only by the Harry Potter movies. The film is also trending on Amazon Prime Video and was in my iTunes “Top Movies” carousel as of last night. Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins, recently bought the film with his girlfriend, director Lulu Wang, and said it was like “watching a documentary.” Okay, sure: Contagion is timely. But does that mean you should watch it right now? I would say: Hard no. Not even the trailer.”
• A Scientific Adviser On “Contagion” Said People Should Have Taken The Film More Seriously [Buzzfeed News]
““If people are watching it again, and if federal and state officials are watching it again, I hope they’re realizing that the movie was really about what can happen with a novel pandemic threat, and I think people should have taken it much more seriously,” McNamara told BuzzFeed News. “I wish people had paid closer attention to it when the film came out, because it really was a warning to the federal government that this could happen and you need to prepare.” [...] “The other thing that really rang true in that film is when someone at a press conference asks the character who works for the CDC if this virus had been weaponized, and his response is, ‘Mother Nature weaponized it,’” McNamara said. “And that's also very, very real because that's what we've been warning people about for 20 years.””
• The Ending of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, Revisited [Vulture]
“In the closing scenes of Contagion, thanks mostly to the efforts of its government-funded doctors and researchers (one of whom injects herself with the virus, to better evaluate the effectiveness of a cure), a vaccine is developed, tested, and mass produced. “It’s gonna start getting normal again,” Matt Damon assures his daughter, who maintains a contact-free relationship with her boyfriend throughout the pandemic and its aftermath (a Rockwell painting of faith and chastity). We learn that a birthday-based lottery will be used to deploy the vaccine, with randomly chosen, numbered ping-pong balls read aloud on live television, to most fairly determine who will get treated first. The idea of such an easy, structured ending is borderline comical. Nine years removed, the film feels less “ultrarealstic” and more like the ultimate fantasy, a salve for the world-weary citizens of today. Once you get past the film’s depiction of a society temporarily undone by home invasions and grocery-store looting, there is something strangely calming about its portrayal of selfless public servants simply doing their jobs well.”
• Contagion shows the lengths people go to watch a movie they can’t stream [The Verge]
“The problem is that Contagion isn’t streaming anywhere — especially in the United States — leading to an increase in rentals on iTunes and torrent downloads. The Verge partnered with TorrentFreak to examine the rise of people downloading Contagion between January 1st and March 4th. The data is estimated by looking at IP addresses that share the movie, according to TorrentFreak’s site editor Ernesto. Analysts look at torrent tracker data, “which is public and broadcasts downloading IP addresses,” he told The Verge. The data isn’t complete or exact, but torrent statistics never are. Think of them as close estimates. There are four instances of Contagion downloads spiking between the end of January and early March. Each increase in downloads, varying from a couple of hundred to nearly 20,000, is timed to a major news event in the spread of the new disease. Prior to January 24th, Contagion was seeing a couple of hundred downloads a day. On January 25th, it jumped to over 1,500. By January 29th, when news began circulating that the new coronavirus had touched down in the United States, it was over 18,000 downloads.”
posted by Fizz (93 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 


The reason this doesn’t surprise me in the least: the year I worked on the ocean liner QE2, making 17 New York - Southampton Atlantic crossings, Titantic played on a 24/7 loop on one of the in-cabin television stations. Two weekly showings on the big screen in the movie theater were also packed.

People are weird.
posted by minervous at 7:50 AM on March 10, 2020 [26 favorites]


I rewatched it the other day and found Contagion soothing precisely because it seemed like a realistic protrayal at the same time as it showed a pandemic much more severe than the current one.

Alternatively, I found it upsetting because it showed a US gov't that was capable of directing relief efforts in a competent and effective fashion, the failure of which here kind of balances out the fact that COVID-19 is not nearly as deadly as the virus in the movie. A moment of scandal in the movie is when Fishburne's character tells his wife to get out of dodge ASAP when they are supposed to be keeping a lid on things to reduce panic. Imagine someone in the Trump adminstration getting in trouble for something like that!
posted by dis_integration at 7:51 AM on March 10, 2020 [18 favorites]


Alternatively, I found it upsetting because it showed a US gov't that was capable of directing relief efforts in a competent and effective fashion, the failure of which here kind of balances out the fact that COVID-19 is not nearly as deadly as the virus in the movie.
That is the part of the film that feels most like fiction (at least when we examine it in 2020). The idea that world governments would get their shit together and work in a communal way to resolve an international crisis. I do not have that faith in humanity. I would like to be proven wrong, but I don't see it happening. Humans are too terrible in their selfishness.
posted by Fizz at 7:58 AM on March 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


3.99 on Google Play, HD is 3.99 on Prime Video, for those who can't put this on expenses. 85% on the TomatoMeter, 63% Audience score. Sure, why not.

As a public service, movies and tv that cover diseases should show extensive scenes of correct handwashing and characters should cite handwashing stats. Srsly. Nail brush, short nails, all that stuff.
posted by theora55 at 8:00 AM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


I haven't seen it, but I'll check it out! I had been wanting something intelligent and more recently written than The Stand.

I was thinking about that book lately, and not in a particularly foreboding way. (Although it must be a hell of a thing to be a guy who's written two books that seemed to mirror events thirty-odd years later.) I loved that book when I was a teen, and I reread it more than once; my most recent attempt fell down.

The thing about the superflu in The Stand is that it's simple. Not easy, but simple. People die relatively quickly, and they die in huge numbers; it's no respecter of persons or ages. The immunity, IIRC, is random, although God--or whatever God is called in King's expanded universe--and Flagg seem to have selected a lot of the survivors for their own purposes. By and large, it's simply a scouring. This is what appeals to people about post-apoc fiction: the idea of a world started afresh, returned to what the author believes is the best and/or the worst in human nature.

COVID-19 is not this. Nothing could be, of course, but COVID-19 is lumbering and undramatic, even where it is deadly. Some nasty jokes about "the Boomer flu" are going around, but it's not going to work out that way. We are all stuck with ourselves and our worst responses, even after all this is over.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:01 AM on March 10, 2020 [9 favorites]


If you want less realism and more dramatic monkey shots, watch Outbreak instead.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:01 AM on March 10, 2020 [18 favorites]


I got sent home from work this morning with a cough. Possibly for the whole week. I think maybe I'll watch this while I wait for grocery delivery (cause nobody wants me in the grocery store right now).
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:03 AM on March 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


(Incidentally, I did read Station Eleven, and I recall that I liked it a lot, but that the most difficult thing to believe is that people will willingly gather to watch Shakespeare after the apocalypse. They might make their kids study it in school, if there's somebody around who's high-minded enough, but we will all finally agree that our local theater companies can give the old man a rest. Maybe they'd stage Star Wars like in Reign of Fire, instead. )
posted by Countess Elena at 8:04 AM on March 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


Nine years removed, the film feels less “ultrarealstic” and more like the ultimate fantasy, a salve for the world-weary citizens of today.

Let's be honest: everything from nine years ago seems like another world.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:09 AM on March 10, 2020 [40 favorites]


everything from nine years months ago seems like another world.

Fixed.
posted by Fizz at 8:12 AM on March 10, 2020 [24 favorites]


If you want less realism and more dramatic monkey shots, watch Outbreak instead.

Or, you know, Twitter.
posted by The Bellman at 8:19 AM on March 10, 2020 [24 favorites]


Notice the dramatic drop in disaster movies over the last few years? Because we're living in it now.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:20 AM on March 10, 2020 [16 favorites]


honestly 9 fucking days ago
posted by poffin boffin at 8:20 AM on March 10, 2020 [18 favorites]


Highly recommend this video from a couple of days ago by one of my favourite youtubers: Real Doctor Reacts to Contagion (MedlifeCrisis).

Good film, though I forgot I'd even seen it.
posted by Acey at 8:25 AM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I've never been a germaphobe. It takes a hell of a lot to gross me out. Iron stomach and even puke and blood doesn't bother me much—to a degree. But I was at the grocery store yesterday and the place looked partially looted. And the woman in line in front of me was telling the check out clerk about how Whole Foods is low on X, Y and Z because of people stockpiling. When it came time to pay, I had to use one of those push button PIN units, the kind with a rubberized cover and buttons with raised numbers you really have to mash down on. Immediately afterwards I put on my winter gloves and didn't take them off until I got home and washed my hands thoroughly. It's getting real.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:29 AM on March 10, 2020 [7 favorites]


SPOILER!

Rock balls up the chuff proving not to work so well for Paltrow.
posted by biffa at 8:43 AM on March 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


Maybe they'd stage Star Wars like in Reign of Fire, instead.

'It starts…the episode starts with Bart getting letters saying: “I’m going to kill you Bart”.'
posted by zamboni at 8:44 AM on March 10, 2020 [12 favorites]


Notice the dramatic drop in disaster movies over the last few years? Because we're living in it now.

Every mega super hero movie is a disaster movie now. And even regular disaster movies haven't decreased that much. The Rock plays in them all, and they are terrible and he always plays a huge selfish jerk in them, commandeering public infrastructure to save only his family.

The weirdest thing about all this: have you talked to people? They are having fun hoarding.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:51 AM on March 10, 2020 [11 favorites]




If you want less realism and more dramatic monkey shots, watch Outbreak instead.

I wasn't aware there were Trump rallies in Outbreak?
posted by DreamerFi at 8:53 AM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


The effects and advice in the UK are ambiguous and contradictory, which isn't helping. For example, today is the first day of the four day Cheltenham (horse racing) festival, with 60,000 people packed into a tight space. That's going ahead. But on the other hand, the Chesham Dogging Society (don't Google Dogging if you are at work) have cancelled their events until further notice, and the Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival has also been postponed.

Maybe just staying at home to watch a good movie is the best option after all. First Reformed seems an appropriate choice at the moment.
posted by Wordshore at 8:55 AM on March 10, 2020 [7 favorites]


Haha - I have been wondering when the hell that movie would start being talked about. Loved it when it came out, rewatched it recently.

While it might not be the most realistic portrayal today, when it came out it felt very on point. It's not really just a movie about a virus, it's also a movie about the moral dilemmas experienced in the onset of a full blown panic.

The disgusting Jude Law 'post-truth' character totally foreshadows the current times
posted by mit5urugi at 8:56 AM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


so it's not "28 Days Later" bad yet

hey, i'll take it
posted by elkevelvet at 9:01 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


Anyone here started hoarding supplies yet? I have not, but it's just me and my wife and we're both under 60. Concerned about my folks though. My dad had the flu a couple months ago (pre-Corona news) and is still recovering. He's mostly better, but gets very out of breath and is extremely tired all the time. He's been to several doctors about it and no one's sure of the full reason why. Anyway, I'll probably get them some stuff so they can stay at home and not have to go out much, at least past their back yards.

It's hard, because everyone's a little stir crazy from the winter, and the weather and longer daylight makes them want to go do stuff. I live near my parents and figure I can shuttle stuff in and out of their house with strategic hand-washing sessions. We're in Chicago, near the Great Lakes and it makes me so thankful for the giant source of clean, fresh water. So many parts of the world water is not so easy to come by. Rankles me that we're still told to wash our recyclables only to have someone throw dog shit in the blue recycle can and have it all get rejected and thrown in a pile. I'm not too apocalyptic, but I get concerned these days for friends who have kids (concerned for the kids as well).
posted by SoberHighland at 9:03 AM on March 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


Contagion is fantastic, she said with pride in Minnesota native Scott Z. Burns (of course Gwyneth Paltrow's character lives in Edina, that played as one of the very few laugh lines in our theater) but 10 years on it's a melancholy reminder of when fantasies about hypercompetent morally centered leaders who had shit under control were aspirational rather than patently ridiculous. See also The West Wing.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:07 AM on March 10, 2020 [17 favorites]


Especially concerned about some friends of mine, and possible contagion. We play tabletop D&D weekly with this guy. His wife is from China and recently started working at O'Hare in the Duty Free shops near the flights to/from China. What timing! It's great for her because she gets a chance to spend time with fluent Chinese speaking folks, but what a bad gig to have right now. I'm kind of surprised they still allow non-essential things like Duty Free to keep running at a major international airport, but money talks I guess.
posted by SoberHighland at 9:08 AM on March 10, 2020


Here in Japan, the basic cable movie channel played it on a Saturday night a couple weeks ago, after cases were starting to spread here. A little on the nose.

I was hoping to have a food event at the end of this month, but I don’t doubt we’re going to end up cancelling it. The main food is/would be deep fried pork ribs, and the event, potentially, would be called 28 Ribs Later.

I figured it was better than “BBQ in the Time of Cholera”
posted by Ghidorah at 9:17 AM on March 10, 2020 [16 favorites]


Found a copy of Contagion at a used bookstore for $1 this weekend; it's routinely been in the bargain bins for years. It's beautifully made, and at times shocking, but I'd agree that the ending feels way too pat. Also, Jude Law's blogger character is the least believable thing in the movie, but then most blogger characters are.

the most difficult thing to believe is that people will willingly gather to watch Shakespeare after the apocalypse...Maybe they'd stage Star Wars like in Reign of Fire, instead.

zamboni linked this above, but Anne Washburn's play Mr. Burns tracks a post-apocalyptic group's retelling of the Simpsons episode "Cape Feare" as it becomes an integral myth of the society over the decades after civilization fails. I saw it a few years ago and it was pretty fun.
posted by mediareport at 9:25 AM on March 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


so it's not "28 Days Later" bad yet

I realised last year that I was now the owner of enough underwear to get me through a 28 days later scenario (providing I don't shit myself with any frequency I suppose). It made me feel like I had finally achieved membership of the middle class.
posted by biffa at 9:28 AM on March 10, 2020 [7 favorites]


@mediareport Yes! I had the opportunity to see that play live a few years back and it was terrifying and hilarious at the same time - it begins with survivors huddled around a fire reminiscing about what TV used to be like and it ends with a full blown musical show a hundred years later where Simpsons has become some sort of super-serious religion type thing.
posted by mit5urugi at 9:30 AM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


I finally read Station Eleven last week, and then started Earth Abides (not bad but has aged oddly in places). Much like how I like to read arctic exploration disaster books in winter, it's a nice bit of perspective. In both of those books the plague kills essentially everyone who gets it within days. At least this ain't that!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:32 AM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


mit5urugi: " it ends with a full blown musical show a hundred years later where Simpsons has become some sort of super-serious religion type thing."

Is there an Old Testament? Like, up through season 6?
posted by chavenet at 9:37 AM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


It's probably wrong of me to admit, but Contagion is my favorite Gwyeneth Paltrow film largely because she's not in it very much, and eventually dies.

Maybe Goop has something that could've helped her.
posted by uberchet at 9:37 AM on March 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


Every time there's a news story about an affected cruise ship I flash back to the ghost airplane in Station Eleven, easily the most haunting thing (no pun intended) in that book.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:38 AM on March 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


Watch Guilford High School put on Mr. Burns
posted by chavenet at 9:40 AM on March 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


Maybe Goop has something that could've helped her.

That's what her character turns into, literal goop.
posted by Fizz at 9:41 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


My favorite marketing stunt ever was done by Warner Bros Canada for this movie.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:44 AM on March 10, 2020 [20 favorites]


Man, that Gwyeneth Paltrow death is fucking *brutal*. That is happens in the first 10 minutes, and her skull gets sawed open right after, is just so shocking.

Btw, science types: when the autopsy is being performed and the doctor freaks out after a quick glance at Gwyeneth Paltrow's brain, what exactly is he seeing? Is shockingly large viral load visible on the surface of the brain or something? That was my biggest question after rewatching this weekend.
posted by mediareport at 9:45 AM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


My favorite marketing stunt ever yt was done by Warner Bros Canada for this movie.

WOW. I never heard of/saw that before. WOOOOOOW.
posted by supermedusa at 9:47 AM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


See my whole take on Mr. Burns/Shakespeare surviving is that books of Shakespeare would be around, making it easier to put on a play post-apocalypse, unlike Simpsons episodes (probably).

But then, lots of books of plays exist/could conceivably survive, no reason it couldn't be Neill Simon or Brecht.
posted by emjaybee at 9:52 AM on March 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


Btw, science types: when the autopsy is being performed and the doctor freaks out after a quick glance at Gwyeneth Paltrow's brain, what exactly is he seeing?

a jade egg
posted by poffin boffin at 9:58 AM on March 10, 2020 [55 favorites]


There was an npr with the technical advisor. He says all the science in it is legit.

My only gripe with the film is *slutty, dirty Gwyneth gets a Puritan death*. Good Lord.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:03 AM on March 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


According to the science advisor they modeled it on Nipah virus, which causes severe encephalitis, so presumably the autopsy doctor added "horrifying levels of brain inflammation" + "last night the only symptom was a cough" to get "public health emergency".
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:05 AM on March 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


I'm going to watch The Salem Witch Trials, because that's the response I got when I suggested that all non essential employees go remote for a few weeks, to protect the kids we work with and ourselves and the direct care/essential employees.
posted by lextex at 10:15 AM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


I'm not even going to bother suggesting to my company owners we work remote. The only way they'd give two fucks is if they got sick or if the company lost a single dime in revenue. Lucky for them they're barely here!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:19 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


They are having fun hoarding.

My brother sent me a shopping list of stuff to try to find in New Hampshire to mail to him in Seattle, and I had fun running around looking for it because it was like a real-life fetch quest.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:19 AM on March 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


DreamerFi: I wasn't aware there were Trump rallies in Outbreak?

Set up your laptop next to the TV and watch Idiocracy on it while Oubreak or Contagion plays on the big screen.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:22 AM on March 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


poffin boffin, i cannot favorite or flag fantastic your comment enough
posted by kokaku at 10:37 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


We watched it this weekend. Herr Duck said "It'll be timely! It'll be fun!" I did the obligatory checking of "Does the Dog Die" and said okay. After it was done, we sat in silence for a bit.
"We shouldn't have watched that," I said. "Nope!" he agreed.

I mean, it was good. It fit into one of my favorite movie categories: "experts-doing-things-they're-good-at/competence porn" but I found it unsettling. I was okay until society started to collapse and then it was...not okay. Afterward, I gave my dog a hug and then went downstairs to check our food stores.

The loose end that bothered me: the last we see of Marion Cotillard, she's heard *big thing* and takes off running. We never see her again. Where is she going? Back to *place she was before*? To find a phone? To do what? I also wondered why Matt Damon didn't wind up in a cage alongside all of the monkeys. Were a lot of people immune? I'd think he'd immediately be taken in for all sorts of "why aren't you getting sick" tests.
posted by Gray Duck at 10:55 AM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I once got an entire audience mad at me during a screening of Contagion (in San Fransisco!) by totally accidentally letting loose a huge wet hacking cough just as the credits hit.

So like everyone else I rewatched it recently and two things stuck out this time, predicting the use of social media to stay connected during lockdown and the line “another week that didn’t happen.” Cause my husband’s work closed for the week and we’re just floating around wondering what to do?

Also the bit with Winslet’s character interacting with local officials is one of the more realistic scenes of local goverment I've seen. (Plus, we all learned what R-naught is! I think the current projection for C-19 is 2.3?)

Has anyone written about how much Soderbergh really doesn’t like the US healthcare industry? It’s a very constant background motif in his films, and how it interacts with class. The specter of medical debt and disease (and corporate pollution causing disease) is all over Logan Lucky, the for profit mental health industry is the bad guy in Unsane and the machinations of Big Pharma is the setting for Side Effects. Even The Nick dug into how early modern American medicine was shaped by racism.

A friend observed that she thought Paltrow’s character was being punished by the story for having an affair but the reveal at the end that it’s all cause her company is trashing native bat habitats and she’s’ shmoozing at the Casino enjoying the profits of environmental destruction is perfectly Soderbergh.
posted by The Whelk at 10:59 AM on March 10, 2020 [19 favorites]


Oh and we're on month 4 of Pandemic: Legacy. Our regularly scheduled monthly game day is Sunday. We'll be knee-deep in fear and dread once again. Who's in charge of my scheduling? I need to have a serious conversation with my social secretary.
posted by Gray Duck at 10:59 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


Has anyone written about how much Soderbergh really doesn’t like the US healthcare industry? It’s a very constant background motif in his films, and how it interacts with class.

As in The Knick, also, come to think of it.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:08 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


Also the bit with Winslet’s character interacting with local officials is one of the more realistic scenes of local goverment I've seen.

Yeah, I wanted more of that. Bureaucracy porn!
posted by mediareport at 11:09 AM on March 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


Has anyone written about how much Soderbergh really doesn’t like the US healthcare industry? It’s a very constant background motif in his films, and how it interacts with class.

As in The Knick, also, come to think of it.


Also, corporations, money, excess. He loves to attack giant conglomerates where money and power are organized. Even in more fun affairs like the 'Ocean trilogy', he's still trying to stick it to someone like Terry Benedict because of all the wealth, privilege, and arrogance. It's Robin Hood for our plucky band of celebs.
posted by Fizz at 11:12 AM on March 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


grumpybear69: "If you want less realism and more dramatic monkey shots, watch Outbreak instead."

I watched this in a movie theater with someone sneezing a few rows behind me. Certainly lent it a certain something.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:16 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


also it hit me that Jude Law’s character is basically Alex Jones selling brain pills and that’s the most predictive aspect (and Paltrow just became that in real life)

The unrealistic fantasy is that he suffers any consequences for peddling snake oil.
posted by The Whelk at 11:31 AM on March 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


Soderbergh made Unsane which is about a person (maybe, that's the point of the movie) committed for the wrong reasons involuntarily. So yeah, I'm not surprised to hear that take. It is not kind to for-profit healthcare.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:36 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


The Stand

Anyone else calling coronavirus "Captain Trumps" yet?
posted by notsnot at 11:37 AM on March 10, 2020 [20 favorites]


Oh and we're on month 4 of Pandemic: Legacy.

I've been really wanting to play some Pandemic. Haven't yet convinced my kid that now's the time for her to learn. I'll have plenty of time to wear her down if we're all stuck in the house for a few months.
posted by gurple at 11:40 AM on March 10, 2020


I remember I saw it and then the next day asked my sister who's an infection control expert if she'd seen it yet and she said, "Are you kidding? That was my Star Wars, I was there for the first showing opening night.".

She's currently VP of Quality Care at a Hospital in MA and working seven days a week because they got their first COVID-19 patient.
posted by octothorpe at 11:44 AM on March 10, 2020 [17 favorites]


Metafilter: Dramatic Monkey Shots
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:02 PM on March 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


we are the most dramatic monkeys
posted by poffin boffin at 12:14 PM on March 10, 2020 [9 favorites]


That is the part of the film that feels most like fiction (at least when we examine it in 2020). The idea that world governments would get their shit together and work in a communal way to resolve an international crisis

Well. 2020 because look who is in charge. An ignorant, incompetent anti-vaccine President.

But the fact is nations have successfully cooperated to deal with disease for a long time. Even through the Cold War.

The WHO, private and public partnerships, and governments, cooperated throughout the 20th century through the 2000’s very effectively to deal with a number of serious epidemics and near pandemics. So. We’ve already done it.

Want proof? You didn’t die from polio or smallpox or rabies or SARS-1 or Ebola or a whole host of things. Your cynicism is misplaced though understandable.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2020 [19 favorites]


As in The Knick, also, come to think of it.

OMG. The Knick! So, so under appreciated. The blurry oldtimey lens filter got tedious in the Knick. But lord. The performances! Amazing.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 12:37 PM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


My favorite marketing stunt ever yt was done by Warner Bros Canada for this movie.

Viral marketing, amirite?
posted by kirkaracha at 12:45 PM on March 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: less realism and more dramatic monkey shots

MonkeyFilter
posted by kirkaracha at 12:46 PM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


We are all stuck with ourselves and our worst responses, even after all this is over.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:01 AM on March 10
This is beautiful and also the reason why accelerationism is so stupid. After the apocalypse, you will still have to live through each day as a flawed, incomplete human being.
posted by Horkus at 12:56 PM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


I think most post-apocalyptic fiction reinforces the worst responses in actual crisis. Because the main theme in 90% of those stories is “everyone for themselves.”

Take The Walking Dead. An abysmal show that I can’t believe is still on. But the consistent cynical theme is that “compassion is weakness.” And only the most brutal, cunning and violent survive. It’s a Preppers wet dream.

The reality is you need to organize and cooperate in a crisis. All those panicked, violent, hoarding, lone-wolf reactionary behaviors get you fucking killed.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 1:09 PM on March 10, 2020 [20 favorites]


See my whole take on Mr. Burns/Shakespeare surviving is that books of Shakespeare would be around, making it easier to put on a play post-apocalypse, unlike Simpsons episodes (probably).

If GenX are the elders of the Apocalypse I think you'll find they have memorized far more of the Simpsons ouevre than Shakespeares.
posted by fshgrl at 1:15 PM on March 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


Matt Damon was probably immune because he lacked the attachment points for the virus to invade his cells. Same reason some people are immune to HIV. I think they do develop a test for the gene at one point, don't they? Or am I mixing up my virus movies?
posted by fshgrl at 1:17 PM on March 10, 2020


Rewatched a different movie a few times and feel that these tweets are on-point:

Chris Person: People keep saying Contagion is a prescient movie for Coronavirus but if we’re comparing disaster movies to real life it feels closer to a Shin Godzilla situation.

Atmosphericblues: I don't think it's just the Coronavirus. Any state of emergency has us in panic bc we have no real infrastructure or fully funded agencies to deal with this. Reminds me of Shin Godzilla movie & how it was a critique of how Japan handled their nuclear disaster/earthquake/tsunami.

avishaiw: The rise of COVID-19 makes me want to rewatch Contagion, but Trump putting Pence in control of anti-coronavirus measures makes me want to rewatch Shin Godzilla.
posted by Wordshore at 3:23 PM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


Contagion is at the library here - free.
posted by Mesaverdian at 3:50 PM on March 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


Matt Damon was probably immune because he lacked the attachment points for the virus to invade his cells.

I got the impression from somewhere in the movie that developing a vaccine from blood serum is a lot more difficult and time consuming. I may be wrong, though.
posted by Chitownfats at 4:04 PM on March 10, 2020


I saw Contagion when it came out, and it scared the shit out of me. I had nightmares and everything.

Now it seems so prescient.
posted by medusa at 6:04 PM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


One funny bit in the movie is that every decision Dr. Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) makes is wrong:

- He orders Sussman to destroy his samples and stop working. Luckily Sussman disobeys and is the first to grow the virus in cells, using a culture the CDC doesn't have.

- He sends Meers to Minnesota. When she catches the disease, he doesn't have enough pull in the government to get her a flight back to Atlanta. She dies in a field hospital.

- He objects to the government's plan to declare martial law in Minnesota, thinking the outbreak isn't that bad, but luckily he is ignored.

- He warns his girlfriend to get out of Chicago before the official word gets out, but it leaks on social media. Cromweedy uses this to undermine the government's credibility and gain a following for his harmful lies when Cheever agrees to debate him on cable news.

Despite this, you get the sense that he's basically a good guy and things will work out okay. He kindly gives his own vaccine dose to Roger's son, he's getting married, he's prepared for whatever comes next. Talking about the football pool at the beginning of the movie, Roger jokingly advises him to make decisions with his head instead of his heart, but that's not where Cheever's strength is.

Meanwhile, Sussman and Ixtall, who are scientists not managers, break the official rules and take calculated gambles that pay off huge. Sussman defies the CDC and succeeds in growing the virus. And Ixtall bypasses protocol for human trials and tests a vaccine on herself at great personal risk, shortening the pandemic by months.

Put it together, and it's pretty clear that Soderbergh, at least in that part of the movie, is pandering to educated people right below management who make their living by technical skill and sometimes think their higher-ups are dumb and official guidelines get in the way (sounds pretty implausible, I have a hard time even imagining such people exist or what they would be like).
posted by officer_fred at 6:05 PM on March 10, 2020 [16 favorites]


Contagion is at the library here - free.

Great. First we can’t go out to parades and sports events, now we can’t even go to the library?

/hamburger
posted by Ghidorah at 6:09 PM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


Fanfare.
posted by theora55 at 7:33 PM on March 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


> Meanwhile, Sussman and Ixtall, who are scientists not managers, break the official rules and take calculated gambles that pay off huge. Sussman defies the CDC…

It turns out that heroic scientists defying the CDC was also prescient.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:49 PM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


Take The Walking Dead. An abysmal show that I can’t believe is still on. But the consistent cynical theme is that “compassion is weakness.” And only the most brutal, cunning and violent survive. It’s a Preppers wet dream.



So in our "we're all off work cause of pandemic " watching party we also saw 28 Days Later which I hadn't seen since it came out (and then I got thrown out of a gay piano bar but that's another story.)

Considering how dominant the "zombie movies are an outlet for fascist ideology/a popular excuse for killing The Other" idea became and how nakedly fascist The Walking Dead is, it was interesting to note how NOT Fascist 28 Days Later is despite basically starting the trend. It takes place largely in working class London interiors ('Mom;s creme de menthe"), the charming white square-jaw guy bites it ten minutes after being introduced, the two male leads are a bike courier and a cab driver, and the first zombie seen is a priest and all other forms of authority are seen as corrupted. It literally ends with the patriarchal military remnant being eaten alive and the reveal at the end is not to fight but to wait it out and hope for help to arrive.

Also, regardless of what you think of the ending, that first 30 minutes is just a panic attack of a movie. All the London stuff is basically chapters 2-6 of The Strand.

All of which is a long way to say I was walking outside today and notice there where MUCH fewer people in the streets then a Tuesday at 5pm in upper Manhattan should have and instantly thought of the song that opens Shaun Of The Dead.
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 PM on March 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


I really wish 28 Days Later had just been the first thirty minutes. I suppose, for me, it can be.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:35 PM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


Matt Damon was probably immune because he lacked the attachment points for the virus to invade his cells.

Alternate hypothesis: Matt Damon was immune because he is Matt Damon.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:14 PM on March 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


That is the part of the film that feels most like fiction (at least when we examine it in 2020). The idea that world governments would get their shit together and work in a communal way to resolve an international crisis. I do not have that faith in humanity. I would like to be proven wrong, but I don't see it happening. Humans are too terrible in their selfishness.

SARS proved that world governments could do this. An effective international response stopped it in its tracks very quickly.

Alas those were different governments in a different era.
posted by srboisvert at 11:24 PM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


SARS was also a different virus.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:11 AM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


Can we contain the COVID-19 outbreak with the same measures as for SARS?

The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 resulted in more than 8000 cases and 800 deaths. SARS was eventually contained by means of syndromic surveillance, prompt isolation of patients, strict enforcement of quarantine of all contacts, and in some areas top-down enforcement of community quarantine. By interrupting all human-to-human transmission, SARS was effectively eradicated. By contrast, by Feb 28, 2020, within a matter of 2 months since the beginning of the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), more than 82 000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported with more than 2800 deaths. Although there are striking similarities between SARS and COVID-19, the differences in the virus characteristics will ultimately determine whether the same measures for SARS will also be successful for COVID-19. COVID-19 differs from SARS in terms of infectious period, transmissibility, clinical severity, and extent of community spread. Even if traditional public health measures are not able to fully contain the outbreak of COVID-19, they will still be effective in reducing peak incidence and global deaths. Exportations to other countries need not result in rapid large-scale outbreaks, if countries have the political will to rapidly implement countermeasures.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:16 AM on March 11, 2020


A movie with Jennifer Ehle and Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet. It just now pushed my Jane Austen button.
I knew there was something about that scientist. Nine years this has been bugging me.
This is not Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And no Mr. Darcy in sight.
posted by TrishaU at 4:18 AM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


Fact-checking Contagion[npr]
posted by sexyrobot at 7:17 AM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


I borrowed ‘Contagion’ from our library last week.
Watching it was like watching a documentary. I think things could go the way they did in the movie only worse. Someone will blame their personal favorite prejudice for carrying or causing the virus and the pitchforks and torches will come out. That was the only thing left out of the movie there weren’t roving gangs killing ‘those responsible for the disease.’
One thing I like is it isn’t like disaster porn. It fleshes out the characters more than most disaster movies do.
I’m glad I watched it again. Especially now.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 9:52 AM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


I watched Contagion last night. Good fun.

I thought it was weird that they didn't name the virus in the movie. Ms. gurple was speculating that maybe it was to prevent people from generating a googleable term that people might search online and confuse the movie for something real.

Outbreak named its virus ("Motaba"). That was solidly pre-Google. Anybody know if the filmmakers of Contagion gave a rationale?
posted by gurple at 11:47 AM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


I think most post-apocalyptic fiction reinforces the worst responses in actual crisis. Because the main theme in 90% of those stories is “everyone for themselves.”

Take The Walking Dead. An abysmal show that I can’t believe is still on. But the consistent cynical theme is that “compassion is weakness.” And only the most brutal, cunning and violent survive. It’s a Preppers wet dream.

The reality is you need to organize and cooperate in a crisis. All those panicked, violent, hoarding, lone-wolf reactionary behaviors get you fucking killed.


I just watched the first couple episodes of a 2008 BBC show called Survivors, about the few people left alive after a flu pandemic, and so far it seems to have exactly this message - the good guys are the ones who cooperate and the bad guys are the hoarders and reactionaries (with plenty of shades of grey, of course). I'm liking it so far.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:46 PM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


A movie with Jennifer Ehle and Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet. It just now pushed my Jane Austen button.

A movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law and Matt Damon. It just now pushed my Patricia Highsmith button.
posted by edithkeeler at 6:57 AM on March 12, 2020


Also on topic: Panic In the Streets.

Oscar for Best Story, fwiw.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:13 AM on March 12, 2020


IRL link Watch Contagion at home and chat in MeFiChat
posted by theora55 at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2020


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