<img src = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/morbid2-800×533.jpg" alt = "Gwyneth Paltrow had a short but very significant appearance in the film in 2011 infection, which has seen an increase in popularity in the middle of the current outbreak of the corona virus. "/>
Enlarge /. Gwyneth Paltrow made a short but very significant appearance in the film Contagion in 2011, which has grown in popularity amid the current outbreak of the corona virus.
When the corona virus spread quickly around the world and more people became aware of the serious threat, the 2011 film Contagion experienced a sudden revival in popularity. The thriller, directed by Steven Soderbergh, moved from 270th place before the pandemic to the second most watched list of films by Warnere Brothers within a few months. The biggest surge in Google searches occurred on March 11, the same day that President Trump announced a travel ban for Europe, which peaked three days later when the ban was extended to the United Kingdom.
This struck Coltan Scrivner, a graduate student at the University of Chicago who specialized in studying pathological curiosity, as remarkable, especially when he saw a similar increase in popularity for the 1995 film Outbreak. Why should people look for the types of films and TV shows that someone who feels threatened by a pandemic should avoid? He conducted an online survey to find out more. The result is an upcoming article in Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture.
Scrivner's hypothesis is that such "morbidly curious" behavior is an evolved response mechanism for dealing with threats by learning from imaginary experiences. "We could assume that these search terms became more popular as people tried to learn more about the outbreak of the coronavirus in response to the recent impact on their daily lives at the time," he wrote in his newspaper. "The closure of international borders may have signaled to American consciousness that the corona virus is indeed a real threat." Part of the human drive to prepare for this threat is to learn more about it – including finding fictional representations of the threat.
His hypothesis is similar to the work of Mathias Clasen from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, author of Why Horror Seduces, who specializes in examining our response to horror in books, films, video games, and other forms of entertainment. Clasen's core hypothesis is that horror exploits the developed fear system. In other words, we try to be afraid in a controlled environment to face our fears in a safe environment. It helps us to challenge our limits, practice coping mechanisms and learn how to better regulate our fear. The same could apply to the sudden surge in interest in pandemic entertainment.
Enlarge /. Correlation between pathological curiosity and interest in watching a movie or TV show of any genre in the next week compared to usual.
One of the first things Scrivner did when he started studying pathological curiosity was to create a validated scale that he could use to make assessments. He found that most people grouped into four types of pathological curiosity: violence, supernatural dangers, body horrors (like a pandemic), and the thoughts and motives of dangerous people that are characteristic of the true genre of crime. So Scrivner already had a valid metric on hand when he came up with the idea of running an online survey to investigate how the current pandemic caused by coronaviruses affects people's choice in film and television programs.
Scrivner recruited 126 participants to complete its morbid curiosity scale, and then answered questions about their interest in the coronavirus and their current interest in six different film and TV genres: scary / supernatural, mystery / thriller, pandemic / virus, Romance, action / adventure and comedy. He found that those who ranked higher on the morbid curiosity scale during this outbreak not only looked for pandemic films, but also for movies and TV shows in the categories Creepy / Supernatural and Mystery / Thriller.
This was just a brief initial study, and Scrivner plans to refine its approach in the coming months, including in collaboration with Clasen. In the meantime, we've asked Scrivner to provide a list of ten recommended pandemic-related movies – some obvious choices, others less – for Ars readers who want to indulge in their morbid curiosity. They are presented below and divided into five subgroups, each with two representative films: pandemic, laboratory accident / zombies, quarantine, fear of nature and comic relief.
(Mostly mild spoilers below.)
/. Contagion (2011) was inspired by real pandemics such as the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak and the 2009 flu pandemic
This is an obvious choice because it was the primary inspiration for Scrivner's study. The real parallels are striking. Contagion deals with a fictional respiratory virus (originating in China) similar to the flu, but more contagious and much more deadly. It is spreading rapidly city by city, leading to widespread governmental quarantines and ultimately to a breakdown of social norms as people succumb to fear and hysteria, and are subject to looting and violence. It has been praised for its remarkable scientific accuracy, both for the presentation and spread of the virus and for the race to develop an effective vaccine. (Admittedly, they discover the vaccine much faster than usual in the real world. Chalk it until the "Hollywood time".)
/. Dustin Hoffman plays the leading role in Outbreak (1995) to what extent mankind is ready to curb the spread of a fictional Ebola-like Motaba virus
The outbreak is concerned with the recurrence of a deadly virus called Motaba, 28 years after it first appeared in an African jungle and infected US soldiers. The U.S. military destroyed the camp to hide evidence of the virus, and when it reappears in Zaire, a series of bad human choices – from stubborn rejection that it could spread to blatant opportunism – result in that it spreads. The deadliest outbreak hits the fictional city of Cedar Creek in California. The military declares martial law in the city as scientists try to develop a cure, even as a shameful general conspiracy to develop the virus as a biological weapon.
From Scrivner's point of view, both films offer an opportunity to examine how people actually behave during a global pandemic. "How do people quarantine? What are the governments doing?" he said. He admits to being "shocked" by how well contagion was, "how people would freak out and how they would buy into this miracle cure," and the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories through blogs and social media.
Laboratory accidents / zombies
/. Four survivors of a deadly pandemic struggle 28 days later (2002) to adapt to their drastically changed lives. A sequel emerged 28 weeks later (2007), in which NATO forces are fighting to protect a safe zone in London.
28 days later and 28 weeks later
The 2002 film is often credited with triggering the zombie genre's revival in the 21st century, along with Resident Evil, which was released the same year. A highly contagious "rage virus" is accidentally released from a laboratory in Cambridge, England. These infected people turn into violent, thoughtless monsters that brutally attack the uninfected – so-called "quick zombies". The virus is spread to the mouth through bites, scratches, or even a drop of infected blood and spreads rapidly, effectively breaking down society. A bicycle courier wakes up from the coma 28 days later and finds London largely deserted, with the exception of a handful of survivors fleeing the infected hordes and accompanying them on their way to safety.
"I think the human mind handles the dynamics of a zombie outbreak in a way that is very similar to how we deal with any type of infectious outbreak," Scrivner said of the category. "Zombies indicate disgust, infections. Your skin peels off, they do things that are irrational." Since most zombie films start with a virus as a starting point, he has narrowed the category down to zombie outbreaks caused by laboratory accidents.
/. An amnesia and a group of commands attempt to contain an outbreak of the T virus in Resident Evil (2002).
This is the first (loose) film adaptation of the video game series of the same name, in which a young woman with amnesia teams up with a group of commands to curb a fatal outbreak of the fictional genetically modified "T virus". She is the only survivor of the original outbreak in an underground genetic research laboratory called Hive, which turned the wand into zombies. The mission is to break into the beehive, shut down the laboratory supercomputer, and shut down the facility before the virus threatens to overtake the entire world.
Just as the virus was the result of a laboratory accident in 28 days later, in which monkeys jumped to humans, a company in Resident Evil is developing a virus to strengthen the mutant immune system, which then gets into the population when it is deliberately released is from a thief. "These films appeal to people's curiosity, what would it look like if it were a laboratory accident?" Scrivner said. "Again, what do people do? Do they cooperate? Do they not cooperate when exposed to a universal threat? We are interested in how people will behave because it is another variable that we need to control so that we can it is not. " used to control in our daily lives. "
/. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) is the second installment of the franchise, in which a young woman and two other survivors of a catastrophic event that has made the surface uninhabitable are trapped in an underground bunker.
10 Cloverfield Lane
This is the second installment in the popular Cloverfield series. The original 2008 film featured a Godzilla-like monster that attacks New York City and releases parasites that bite people, make them bleed from their eyes, and then explode. The U.S. military tries to destroy the monster by bombing Manhattan to pieces. 10 Cloverfield Lane takes place in rural Louisiana, where a young woman wakes up after a car accident and finds herself in an underground bunker with two men. They tell her that it is not safe to go over the earth because the air is filled with radiation from a recent nuclear or chemical attack. Three relatively strange people have hunkered down indefinitely to avoid an invisible danger. Who doesn't trust each other? This is a recipe for disaster.
"These people have no idea what's going on outside. They don't know if there is a nuclear fallout, if it's a virus," Scrivner said. "It gives you this scenario where you are stuck in one place and cannot walk. I suspect this is the first time in many people's lives that they have been quarantined. So it is a scenario in which people live me I'm really interested in learning about it. What should it look like when people are quarantined? What are the possible variables? "(Spoiler alarm: The biggest variable are aliens.)
/. Local residents are sealed in their homes for mysterious reasons when characters in Hazmat suits patrol outside in the British thriller Containment (2015).
Bill Bravo Films
These Britons certainly have a knack for making tight psychological thrillers about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Containment takes place in a community block of apartments in Southampton. The residents wake up one morning to find that they have been sealed in their homes, without electricity or running water, and with no way to communicate with the outside world. However, you can see people in Hazmat suits patrolling through their windows on the grounds, and a voice sounds through the intercom that repeatedly prompts them to stay calm and stay indoors.
"Containment is a virus, people who find that they are quarantined in their homes," Scrivner said. "So they go a little crazy and decide to work together to break out of their own homes." Sure, it breaks the quarantine and endangers lives (not just their own), but as we've seen in our current pandemic, fear and panic can cause the worst in people and can cause them to behave irrationally – and often violently.
Fear of nature
/. In It Comes at Night (2017), while a contagious outbreak devastates the world, a small group of survivors retreat deep into the forest.
It comes at night
Coming at night is another scenario in which a highly contagious virus has spread all over the world. For security reasons, two families lock themselves in a house deep in the forest and argue that their chances of survival are better if they combine their resources. But there are some strange rules: the only entrance to the house must remain locked and only one man has the key; and night trips to the forest must be kept to a minimum due to an unknown threat. She finds the disease anyway and as family members begin to fall ill, tensions break out into violent conflicts.
"Many people are currently afraid to go outdoors, especially if they are more vulnerable and / or of a higher risk category," said Scrivner. "It's actually not clear what the film is about, but when you go outside you tend to disappear or die. So this film is really about the fear of the unknown. It offers another scenario , where people are quarantined, but it’s not that they can’t go outside. They’re afraid to go outside. ”
/. In the Spanish science fiction thriller The Last Days (Los Últimos Días) (2013), a man has to grapple with the possible end of all humanity.
The last days
The Last Days (Los Últimos Días) is a Spanish film set in Barcelona, a city that was hit by a mysterious catastrophic event that was never specified. The survivors dig into homes and have to search for food and supplies and dig tunnels to get from building to building. Much of the film is told in flashbacks that show that more and more people succumb to a behavioral phenomenon called "panic". As supplies are scarce and people are becoming more and more desperate, they begin to switch on each other.
"Once again, people are afraid to go outside and the reason is that there has been some kind of pandemic," said Scrivner. "This virus has led to extreme agoraphobia. When you go outside, you panic, seize and die."
/. The classic Zom-Com Shaun of the Dead (2004) is the first film in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy.
Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead is a straightforward parody of classic George Romero zombie films and became an instant classic of the "Zom-Com" gene when released. Best friends Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) face a zombie outbreak and decide to pick up Shaun's mother and ex-girlfriend Liz and take refuge in their favorite restaurant, the Winchester. But they have to fight their way through hordes of voracious zombies with every step. Of course, things don't go according to plan. There are many cunning references to other zombie films, including 28 Days Later and his rage virus.
When the outbreak of the corona virus hit London and triggered social detachment measures, Pegg and Frost met for a parody video and gave wise advice (video embedded below). First and foremost: "Don't go to the pub." Last time it didn't work out so well.
/. In Mayhem (2017), the fictional "Red Eye" virus infects people's nerves to remove inhibitions and causes them to respond to their darkest impulses.
Mayhem made waves for the first time at the SXSW Film Festival 2017 and enchanted the audience with its hilarious (if somewhat bloody) premise. There is a highly contagious "red eye" virus that is spreading all over the world. While the virus is not fatal and does not turn people into zombies, it forces them to live out their darkest impulses. "It basically turns off parts of your prefrontal cortex so you have no inhibitions," said Scrivner. "So you act very aggressively towards everything."
The virus hits an office building and everyone inside is immediately quarantined. A falsely accused, recently fired corporate lawyer and one of his law firm's desperate clients whose insurance claim has just been denied decide to take advantage of the situation. Together they fight their way up to the executive suites on the top floor to request a refund.
The comic relief category was by far the most interested in the average Scrivner study, as opposed to those who scored high on the pathological curiosity scale. It's a way to deal with a threat by finding a way to make fun of it and thereby relieve fear. "It makes sense intuitively," said Scrivner. "What do you do when you feel stressed or concerned about something? You see something funny. I thought people who were less morbidly curious but still a little pandemic interested would enjoy these two films."
What, not a zombie country? Feel free to throw this 2009 film and its 2019 sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, on the lineup for a little more comic relief.
The original Shaun of the Dead co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost meet again to provide advice on the corona virus.