December 12, 2005


Bird Flu burgerDon't be fooled, if the New York Times offered me money and a byline I'd happily write whatever half-assed story they wanted me to write, but until they buy my shriveled little soul I'm free to point out just how lame their cultural coverage has become. Case in point: this Sunday's piece on the Hong Kong movie industry's "flu taboo".

"While the dream factory often doubles as a pop-cultural inventory for diseases, Hong Kong's busy film industry has been wary of the current flu strain, which emerged in the territory in 1997 and led to 18 cases and 6 deaths," the article says, leading one to believe that somehow Hong Kong moviemakers are avoiding the big box office awaiting a movie about the bird flu because they are "wary" - we're not told what they're wary of, but I would assume the implication is that they're wary of upsetting the government.

The article then does an impressive 180 and names two movies that do mention Asian bird flu (GOLDEN CHICKEN and the TV series "Virtues of Harmony II") and it talks about the SARS films that were made a few years ago. I can practically smell over-heated brain cells of the Times editorial staff all the way over here in my hovel. The mental energies expended on this piece can only be figured in BTUs.

Getting limper with every sentence, the piece ends with these immortal words:

"Indeed, the harder a disease hits, the greater its filmic potential, said Stuart Krassner, a biology professor at the University of California, Irvine. If the flu approaches the level of the 1918 pandemic, said the professor, 'there will probably be films about it.'"

The flu pandemic of 1918 killed around 50 million people, so I guess if that happened then sure, there probably would be films about it. Don't go too far out on that limb, Stuart.

Just as a point of comparison, the global death toll for bird flu is 70. So only 49,999,930 deaths to go before those bird flu movies hit the big screen. I can't wait!

If anyone from the New York Times reads this blog, allow me to pitch them a gripping story that will stun! And shock! The nation! Since 1999 the American death toll from West Nile Virus, a nasty disease transmitted from mosquitos to humans, has reached 650 people. 650 dead people and do I see a Hollywood movie about West Nile Virus? No! Because there is a Hollywood Virus Taboo. Hollywood directors are "wary" of West Nile Virus even though they know that including a character in their movies named "Niley" who has an enormous blood-sucking proboscis would drive up their box office by at least 20%.

Remember: the sacred duty of a newspaper arts and culture writer is to cash the check. And I am ready to shoulder that responsibility.

December 12, 2005 at 09:35 AM in News | Permalink


Post a comment