I first saw the trailer for this film on Twitter as a quote tweet talking about how insensitive it is to make a movie about this current pandemic while we are still in this current pandemic.
If you have not yet seen the trailer, the movie is basically about the United States in the near future, where not only has COVID-19 mutated to COVID-23, but it is also found to target the brain, and society is in a tell-tale dystopia of martial law, empty streets, and fear at every turn. It is way too soon for this movie, and here’s why:
We are still in this freaking pandemic.
It’s pretty self-explanatory why it is such a bad idea to make a dystopian thriller about a pandemic that seems to have no end in sight in the U.S. Not only is it striking fear that this virus can mutate to something scarier than it is now, but also the details in this movie’s elements (gathered from the trailer) paint a certain picture of athe future of the U.S. that can very easily be politicized. Still being part of this pandemic makes this movie a little too realistic for it to be actively enjoyed as simply a scary movie. Normally, you can watch a scary movie and still go about your day because it is something that is unlikely to happen (like a killer clown or hidden clones that come to kill your family). With “Songbird,” however, watching the movie is 10 times scarier when you have to live it too.
It is very easy to make this whole thing political
COVID-19 as a public health issue is already being politicized, as are safety measures that are put in place to combat the spread of this disease; it doesn’t help at all that this movie is painting a picture of empty streets and martial law in the future of this mutated virus. We’ve even had public officials who claimed this would be the end result of public safety measures to combat COVID-19, so it isn’t the best idea to create that image in people’s minds as something that will happen. When I watched the trailer on YouTube, I saw a few comments saying that the outcome of COVID-19 being what is shown in the movie depends on the outcome of the election. COVID-19 has already been politicized quite enough, so it doesn’t help that people can look at this movie and say, “This is how we’ll end up if _________ wins.” The details in the trailer showing martial law, empty streets, and an overall depressing and fearful vibe, give the idea that things will only get worse, and people have already tied that to certain political parties. No bueno.
We simply don’t need all the fear right now
It’s already freaky enough to be in a literal pandemic. We don’t need to add to it by creating a scary movie about it. People are still dying from this disease, and we still don’t even know the long-term effects for people who have had it and claimed it “wasn’t that bad.” Why can’t we have a happy movie about the future with positive vibes? A movie where we have overcome this pandemic and come out a better nation? You could answer those questions with something along the lines of the fact that, unfortunately, fear and negativity are profitable, but this is a scary time for a lot of people. It’s in poor taste to capitalize off that without even waiting until we are at least making positive trends. We’re still very much in the thick of this.
How long should we wait?
I’m going to be honest here. The movie itself doesn’t look poorly made. If this was a movie about maybe another disease that we aren’t dealing with right now, it might not warrant as much of my criticism. But for something specifically talking about COVID-19, they should at least wait until after we have been able to return to some sort of normalcy: cases are at record lows, we’ve found viable treatments, etc. I honestly don’t think things will go back to the way they used to be, unfortunately, but the “new normal” doesn’t have to be straight out of a thriller movie.