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Coronavirus Breaks Blockbuster America

Vox‘s Alissa Wilkinson writes about the metaphorical meaning of the absence of the great American movie blockbuster from this awful year:

From Indiana Jones to Captain America, Ellen Ripley to President Whitmore, Ethan Hunt to Batman, both the world and studio budgets have been saved every summer, in one manner or another, by lone-wolf badasses who don’t take anyone’s guff but can also deliver inspirational speeches when needed. They are the descendants of the white-hatted Western good guys, reimagined for a world where the West has been won. Blockbuster heroes respond to the call of duty, the charge to save humanity led by American authorities — or, in the event the government is in shambles, by everyday Americans.

“We can all just sit here on Earth, wait for this big rock to crash into it, kill everything and everybody we know,” Bruce Willis’s Harry Stamper says to his fellow oil drillers in Armageddon. “United States government just asked us to save the world. Anybody want to say no?” [Alissa Wilkinson, “The Summer Without Blockbusters,” Vox, 2020.08.28]

We are the heroes of our own blockbusters. We wield the asteroid drills and blasters and lightsabers that the blockbuster characters use to affirm our confidence in ourselves. The blockbusters tell us that yes, we can! that when Harry and Ben and President Whitmore ask us regular Joes to save the world, we can make that grand sacrifice, bear that cosmic burden, and triumph against our greatest enemies.

But this summer, when a virus shuts down the blockbusters, we learn we can’t even put on masks and put off going to the bar:

The very reason Americans — and the rest of the world — couldn’t go see any new blockbusters this summer has to do with American failure. And that failure spans all levels, from the White House to average citizens, in the face of a humanity-threatening virus. As the summer of 2020 has worn on, and other economies have warily but safely reopened around the world, the US has looked less and less like a leader and more and more like an ostrich with its head buried deep beneath the dusty ground [Wilkinson, 2020.08.28].

We have failed to live up to the affirmations of forty years of Hollywood myth-making. We are not Harry Stamper (hard anti-Harry view here), or Bear, or even Rockhound. We have chosen to sit here on its barstool, wait for the big virus to crash into us, and let it sicken and kill whoever it sickens and kills. America, its blockbuster movies, and its blockbuster mythos thus lie defeated by the pandemic.


  1. John Dale 2020-08-30 18:02

    The CDC just revised its caseload and death data.

    94% of the Covid Deaths were people with existing complications and/or very old.

  2. jerry 2020-08-30 18:53

    Just before the trump virus really hit with strength, we went to see “Knives Out” at the Elks. Got one of those big ol popcorn thingy’s at the concession stand. Good deal on getting that up those stairs as that is quite a climb and I probably would have eaten the whole thing by the time I got to the top. Anyway, to us it was worth it, we totally enjoyed the film. Now it’s on Amazon so I might check it out again and would recommend it.

    The Academy Awards will be slim pickins this year for sure. Thanks to trump and his damn virus, it is what it is.

  3. Jake 2020-08-30 19:23

    John Dale-are you offering that as an excuse for Trump’s virus debacle?

  4. grudznick 2020-08-30 19:40

    grudznick, for one, does not believe Mr. Trump, who I will not vote for, caused this virus or makes the insaner than most who whine not stay home. We need the cops to make those insaner than most stay home, and give the cops more leeway to thump them about the head and shoulders.

  5. mike from iowa 2020-08-30 20:40

    Maybe a Native American or perhaps an African American cop would pull over run of the mill white Grudzilla and use his lower back for close range target practice.

    But, run of the mill white Grudzilla would complain vehemently his white privilege would not allow such mistreatment of his pastey white hide.

  6. Debbo 2020-08-30 20:48

    Ouch! But the truth often hurts. We could be on the downhill side of Covid-19, being healthier and freer and rebuilding our economic and social structures.

    We could be, but for a psychopathic president who has denied reality and discouraged behaviors that would have brought about the successes many other nations are enjoying. Demented Donny has publicized every bizarre conspiracy theory and quack miracle cure that’s come along, while actively hamstringing the USA’s ability to defeat this pandemic.

    Grinding down the Covid-19 numbers requires patience, deferred gratification, temporary sacrifice for long term gain, self denial. These are things Terrible Toddler is completely unwilling to sustain, much preferringmagical thinking. The same is true for his cultists, once known as Republicans.

    That his why he and his cultists must in November.

  7. grudznick 2020-08-30 20:51

    Goodness, Mr. mike. I knew you were from Iowa where the covids have gone all rampant, so grudznick, for one, is sure glad you are still alive. grudznick is all about love, and tolerance. It is why I have been voted the most loved Conservative with Common Sense for 6 years running, now.

    PS: tell all your Iowegian neighbors to Stay the F at Home!

  8. leslie 2020-08-31 05:59

    Read every word of this:

    Hollywood has covered this story thoroughly. The corruption of legal norms is new.

    “A president pushing fascist rhetoric with autocratic tendencies is running America and our democratic safeguards are greatly weakened. Paramilitary violence by an enraged, white minority—organized and stoked by the president, to whom they are loyal, and local police who tolerate or empower them—is becoming a new norm.”

    (This speaks directly to u grdz. Subversion is your game, daily)

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