THE POP-CULTURE IMPACT OF THE COVID 19
COVID 19 or coronavirus as it is widely known. A global pandemic that has taken up the world by storm. The world is silent as the global lockdown takes effect. People locked at homes as a precaution to control the spread of the virus and to reduce the infected and the death toll. People resort to any form of entertainment to help pass the time during this time. And one of the most used forms of entertainment is movies and books. And there has been a spike in the popularity of epidemic movies and books. Some of them include Contagion, Outbreak, The Stand, Warm Bodies, Daybreakers, The Resident Evil series, and much more.
Contagion, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Matt Damon and Kate Winslet in the lead roles, is about a global pandemic. It was inspired by the SARS and the flu outbreak. It has elements used in real life like index patients, lockdowns, collaborations between global organizations like WHO and UN, and false information and the people who spread it, like conspiracy theorists. It was released in 2011 and was directed by Stephen Soderberg. Its popularity resurfaced during the COVID 19 pandemic as it portrayed a similar situation as the global pandemic we are facing now.
Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman, Cuba Gooding Jr, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman. It’s about an outbreak of a virus similar to Ebola. It’s directed by Wolfgang Peterson. It’s based on a non-fiction book ‘The Hot Zone’ by Richard Preston. It was released during the real-life outbreak of the Ebola virus in Zaire. It involves the situations surrounding the spread of the virus, and how far the military will go to stop its spread among the civilians.
The Stand, a dark- apocalyptic fantasy novel by Stephen King tells a story of a virus created from a mutated strain of the influenza virus by the US military and accidentally released into the public. It shows the people deal with the virus and its consequences. It has been adapted several times. It was developed into a miniseries by ABC in 1994.it was also made into a comic series by Roberto Aguirre- Sacasa. A series based on the book is in development by CBS All Access.
These are only the most widespread and most watched ones. There are various more online websites and on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. With people running out of things to do while in lockdown, they are running to these services for some much-needed entertainment to help pass the time. The people running these services are profited profusely.
But all this also has a dark side. The popularity of these movies and books led to people comparing the stories of these movies and books to the actual global pandemic that we are facing right now. It was so bad that people started to release stories comparing them, mostly The Stand. It went so overboard that Stephen King, the author who penned the book, released a statement in twitter to tell people to stop comparing the COVID 19 pandemic to the ‘Captain Tripps’ virus in the book.
I would like to conclude by saying that people are clamoring to find new ways to keep themselves entertained and to help pass the time. But the most popular means is pandemic based movies and books. But this does not mean that we have to go overboard by making theories and releasing them to the public to cause panic. We have to use this time to keep ourselves safe and to defeat this global pandemic.
FARHA MOHAMED FAIZAL