COVID the movie
Screen Editor Olivia Garrett discusses the upcoming Coronavirus themed movie Songbird.
Oh dear Michael Bay. Just when you thought Transformers 5 was a career low, here comes Songbird. Not like the name suggests a musical or new Pixar, but instead a depressing Bird Box wannabe (which was of course a depressing A Quiet Place wannabe) set in that old reliable: post-apocalyptic America. And best of all it’s about everybody’s favourite subject: Coronavirus.
By now even the most casual viewer is sick of Hollywood’s parade of putrid American catastrophes where everything looks disgusting except the main character’s hair and immaculately shaved legs. From zombies to apes to super-sensory monsters, the cinema-goer is well used to viral and apocalypse horrors that disturb you about the fate of humanity, but this one really is tier three levels of insenstivity. At a time when coronavirus is very much our present and the country is wondering what this Christmas will look like, Hollywood see it fit to turn international misery into a spectacle of jump-scares and cry-face acting.
Songbird is set in 2022 in America’s ‘213th week of lockdown’, interaction is totally online and citizens are forced to scan their temperature daily. Coronavirus has mutated into a new, more aggressive strain and everyone who displays symptoms is forced into enormous quarantine camps, with the annual deathtoll in the millions. Actors Demi Moore, K.J Apa and Sofia Carson appear in the trailer showing the different and separate types of living situations under this new regime of terror and illness. Health workers and those of the front line of this current virus are villified and transformed into sanitised versions of the thought police who come and take you from your homes. And worst of all, Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ is warped into a sludgy, cheerless soundtrack to accompany these shots of mayhem and death.
Hollywood see it fit to turn international misery into a spectacle of jump-scares and cry-face acting.
Hollywood’s history of bookending tragedy with movies is not isolated to this year. Multiple 9/11 films and 2016’s Patriots Day (about the Boston marathon bombings) have proven that big name directors and actors will happily jump on calamity before the bodies are cold. The motivation for a big box-office taking is too high to consider anything remotely close to tastefulness. But even those pale in comparison to this level of callousness. I’d love to know who thought it was appropriate to play with, hyperbolise and advertise the very real fears and discomfort we still live with. There must be some space between the ‘Imagination’ video and this in which celebrities are actually useful to us.
When we ought to be staying positive and using the brilliant medium of film to motivate and escape, Michael Bay brings a grotesque version of reality crashing down around us. He may even want us to feel as trapped and hopeless as the characters what with a scheduled home release only. Whether the film is enjoyable or not, such levels of tactlessness ought not to be rewarded, and yet, I feel this is only the start of the trend. In the years to come I’m sure we will be treated to countless coronavirus movies, let’s just hope we’re out of it for real by then.