Have you heard about the coronavirus? Kristin Chenoweth is very worried about it, as a travel lockdown and rising death toll restricts travel across China’s Hubei Province. Two cases are confirmed in the United States, and the New York Times reports that it has also spread to Nepal, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. The State Department has also issued a Level 4 travel advisory, which explicitly forbids travel to and from Wuhan Province.
In the midst of this, a second case of coronavirus was found in Chicago. A woman in her 60s recently traveled to Wuhan and returned to Chicago on January 13. Strangely, this is also the plot of the 2011 Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle Contagion, which freaked my mom out enough that she wouldn’t let me leave the house without dousing me in Purell. Told in a series of interlocking narratives, Contagion follows a deadly epidemic as it spreads from bats to pigs, to Goop, to the rest of the world. Kate Winslet wears glasses and attempts to look studious, Matt Damon runs around in his best suburban dad cosplay, and Marion Cottilard frowns a lot. Laurence Fishburne is also there, warning everyone about bioterrorism, as is Jude Law, a Big Pharma troll who tries to make a quick buck from the epidemic. It’s all pretty wacky!
But in a pivotal moment early in the film, Goop enjoys a quick layover in Chicago, where a new outbreak of coronavirus was just discovered. I doubt that the impending epidemic will play out like a Stephen Soderbergh flick, but it is human nature to endlessly link real word events to fictional narratives that vaguely resemble them, like Contagion! So in the event of a mass, apocalyptic outbreak, who do you hope to be? The blogger conspiracy theorist being paid off by Big Pharma? The kidnapped epidemiologist with a heart of gold? The distraught suburban father of two? Or maybe you’re the brilliant scientist that defies her peers and secretly develops a vaccine. Me? I’m Goop. I’d like to claim I’m the hero here, saving the world from impending doom, but that sounds like a lot of work, and I’d rather take my chances and exit stage left early. (But not before giving one last, incredibly dramatic performance!)