I can talk these germs out of their deadly-ness

I can talk these germs out of their deadly-ness

The movie Contagion is about a virus that sweeps through the human population killing everyone not coated in a thick membrane of hand sanitizer.  Gwyneth Paltrow goes makeup-free during a seizure, Matt Damon flexes and wrings his hands nervously, and Kate Winslet drops ninja-style into the fray armed only with a stethoscope and a thin, cotton face mask she doesn’t wear half the time. Before you get angry that I’m ruining the plot for you, remember that it came out in 2011 and Netflix exists.  Dial it back.

“We’re not sure how it’s spreading” Winslet says, in her best government-y genius doctor-y voice, “so I’m going to ask you to cough into my eyes after I lick this open sore on your hand. Can I have a bite of your sandwich?”

Shockingly, she gets the virus. Even more shockingly, she is shocked.
This is a woman who presses “last number called” on her cellphone and gets Laurence Fishburne on the first ring, (and probably not just in the movie).  Yet, she can’t understand how a piece of undershirt tied around her mouth didn’t protect her from a super germ killing the planet.   Even as the symptoms descend upon her, this high ranking medical officer desperately chugs cold medicine as if maybe she caught some other sickness, different from the thing that killed the stack of corpses being burned outside her window.

Despite her brilliance, despite her compassion and altruism, despite her delusions of magical powers she dies, just like the hundreds of victims before and after her.  She becomes, anti-climatically,  just another body zipped into a bag, to Laurence Fishburne’s dismay.

This delicate balance of ignorance and denial is the scariest part of the movie, because I see this rationale patterned through my life like a plaid blanket.
“He cheated on them, but he won’t cheat on me.”
“He lies, but maybe this Robitussin will help.”
“Restraining order aside, I know Laurence Fishburne loves me.”

Why do I think if my face mask has a higher thread count I am safer than those falling around me? Why would I resist the logic of evidence in front of my face? And why would I be surprised to be treated like nothing special by something incapable of valuing my particular brand of awesome?
Someone help me with this zipper, I need to get out of this bag.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *