The Pandemic is Not a Michael Bay Movie

No doubt you’ve been spending a lot of time during this pandemic practicing social distancing by watching a lot of movies. In times like these, there’s nothing like a good bombastic escapism popcorn flick to take your mind of reality. In my honest opinion there is no better director who has master this than Michael Bay. Now this isn’t going to be a critique of his directing abilities. I don’t have the patience for that. What I am looking to write about is the overlap between his films and a certain segment of our population during the era of COVID 19.

If you watch enough of his films, you’ll notice a common thread in all of his films. The expert advice is always ignored over the individual rough and tumble hero of the film, who shrugs off their perceived incompetence to save the day in their own way. Take for example, Armageddon, Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck ignore the advice of NASA rocket scientists to train astronauts on drilling in favour of having to do it themselves. In 13 Hours, John Krasinski is left stranded on the front lines due to bureaucratic ineptitude, in the middle of a firefight and must courageous fight on his own to save the day. In Bay’s latest action flick, 6 Underground Ryan Reynolds demonstrates how easy it is to over throw a government using only 6 people. Don’t get me wrong, Bay’s films are fun action films where enough explosions can always wrap up the plot satisfyingly. In reality though the themes they advocate rarely translate well to solve the world’s problems.

This fun attitude of rugged individualism translates well into a movie’s plot device. In the fight to combat the spread of COVID 19 however, it can prove to be deadly. We are in week 4 or 5, depending where you are from, of government recommended social distancing measures and as expected it’s beginning to take it’s toll. The economy has shrunk to near depression levels and the mental health of citizens is starting to strain under the pressure. Make no mistake about it, these will prove to be the most trying times of our generation. A test of will unlike any other we have faced together.

What isn’t needed is the nonsense exposed by the likes of Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and Fox News commentators in the United States. Expunging ill conceived advice based on absolutely nothing but their gut feelings. The same goes for Ezra Levant and Rebel Media here in Canada, launching their online campaign to discredit and undermine the authority of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.

This isn’t a popcorn action flick, where the rugged individualist comes to save the day because he knows best against the advice and policy of experts. This is the real world. The expert advice of scientists and doctors who study this for a living, is proving to be effective in flattening the curve. This isn’t a bombastic war movie with jingoistic fan fare and flag waving scenery. In fact, the war analogy is probably wrong to begin with. My father gave the perfect metaphor to describe the COVID 19 pandemic. It’s a forest fire, and we are the fuel. It feeds on us and spreads through us. Ask any firefighter and they will tell you the only way to fight a forest fire is to cut off it’s fuel supply. You cut firebreaks in the tree line to stop the spread of the fire. That is what our social distancing measures are trying to do. And they appear to be working.

When this is said and done, the history books and films will look back on this time as it inevitably will. The heros of this era will not be the rugged individual who stood up to authority. Those people will be look upon as weak in spirit and cowards to face the challenge of the time. Our true heros will be the people who looked to their communities and helped us all get through this. The people who showed compassion and understanding to those struggling in isolation. The ones who rose to the occasion by distancing themselves from their loved ones and neighbours. Not for their own sake, but for the sake of strangers and their communities at large.

So stay indoors and reach out to check in on your family and friends through phone calls, zoom meetings and social media. Heed the advice of virologists and epidemiologists. And you know what? Pop in a few Michael Bay films to turn off the critical thinking part of your brain and take your mind off the stress of the times. That’s what they are there for.

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