If you have Netflix or just keep up with social media, you’ve likely seen people raving over the movie Contagion—a pandemic drama which maps the eruption of a lethal novel virus, and the Netflix docu-series Pandemic, which dives into the lives of the heroes on the front line of the battle against influenza as they educate us about their efforts to stop the next global outbreak.
While we are facing a pandemic currently, why are we all so obsessed with watching pandemic movies?
One of the core reasons we’ve come to watch these types of movies is to feel a sense of readiness and feel informed. This can bring many people comfort. Psychologist Pamela B. Rutledge, wrote about this for the Psychology Today website. “In a time of uncertainty, people search for comfort by increasing their sense of control. We feel control by getting information that makes the world more understandable,” said Rutledge. “Since there are no easy answers to the coronavirus, mood Contagion watchers are looking at fiction as an information source. When we can’t create an image in our brains to explain what is happening, it’s not surprising that we seek out someone who can.” You could say that these movies almost stand as a “how-to” or “what to expect” guide, with the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.
Believe it or not, scary movies help us manage our fears. Film critic Charles Bramesco said the following in a recent article for The Guardian: “For some psychological profiles,” he suggested, “keeping fear out of sight only enables it to expand in size and intensity. Such films as Contagion and Outbreak […] allow audiences to vicariously live through the end of days and survey what will be left after.”
Shawndell Bradshaw,19, a former Brooks College Prep student, is one of the many people investing time in pandemic stories during our current crisis. “I watched the series ‘Containment’ because I realized how big the outbreak of the coronavirus is becoming in America. It caught my attention because it was about a virus. After watching it, I realized I became more mindful of covering my mouth and nose when I sneezed or coughed.”
Brooks College Prep senior, Asia King, watched a pandemic movie and focused on the human reaction aspect. “I watched Contagion because it was a really popular movie at the time, and while watching it I realized that wow, this is something that could actually happen, and not just because of how bad illness of disease can be but because of people panicking and causing paranoia and chaos.”
We have way more questions than answers about this virus, COVID-19. During a time of the unknown, it makes sense that pandemic movies and shows are increasingly being watched. As humans, we’re going to try to find answers and subside any fear we have.
Are there any pandemic movies that you guys are obsessed with? Let us know!
By Amaris Edwards, Senior, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep