Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer


As we rushed into the house, we both headed immediately to our bathrooms to wash our hands. Twice. And I also washed my face.

Contagion is a very intelligent movie. It is scary, but not in the Friday the 13th kind of scary, or in the Night of the Living Dead kind of scary, although come to think of it, there were some elements in common with the original Night of the Living Dead. No, what makes Contagion scary is that it could happen so easily.

I had no idea that we touch our faces, on the average, of three to five times a minute, more than 3,000 times a day, and that with every surface we touch, we transfer (germs) (bacteria) (things that could make you sick) close to an entry to your body, like your nostrils and your mouth. Once you start thinking about NOT touching your face, you become aware of how often you touch your own face, unaware. Like flipping hair out of your eyes, or covering your mouth when you laugh, or a million other things like that. You become aware of all the things you touch between the time you wash your hands and touch your food. You think about who may have touched your fork, and how well it was washed.

For me, the scariest part of the movie, beyond how quickly the virus mutated and spread, was how quickly civil society broke down when cities were quarantined, when people were concerned food was growing scarce, when people thought they had to fight for survival. The rules for avoiding spreading the virus were not to meet, not to touch, to stay apart. It’s hard to help one another when those rules are in play, but those rules make it easier for those without rules to attack and take what they can.

I liked the music in the movie, too, very edgy.

Before I ever saw this movie, I heard an interview with the author on NPR. She was saying that when they came to her wanting to make this movie, she said “it cannot start in Africa. . . (there were a whole bunch of rules, which were hilarious because they were like every plot for a movie like this ever made) I knew I needed to see this movie, to see how it could be done and still be dramatic, and follow her rules.

There is one hilarious quote. A blogger in this movie gains enormous following. As he is tracking down one of the scientists for information, the scientist says to him:

Blogging is not writing. It’s just graffiti with punctuation.

Excuse me, gotta go wash my hands again.

September 16, 2011 - Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Customer Service, Entertainment, Experiment, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Movie, Social Issues, Statistics


  1. It’s not hard to see why some people become germophobes and develop psychosis’s like obsessive-compulsive-disorders (OCD)..

    Comment by Ken | September 17, 2011 | Reply

  2. Ken, I’ve always thought that growing up in Alaska, eating dirt, playing in the forest, catching, cleaning and scaling fish, etc, all the things of an old-fashioned childhood, helped my immune system to throw off almost anything, but there are things I haven’t been exposed to. We actually started washing hands A LOT when bird flu hit, and we were living in Qatar, then Kuwait. They almost wouldn’t ship our Qatari Cat with us to Kuwait because of bird flu (yeh, yeh, doesn’t make sense, but sense seems to be one of the first things out the window when an unknown virus goes, ummm . . . viral.) We get vaccinations, etc. but as Rumsfeld says, there are a lot of “unknown unknowns” out there.

    This was a really good movie!

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 17, 2011 | Reply

  3. I’ve been interested in seeing Contagion, but now I’m not sure.

    And of course I spent the entire time it took to read this post consciously trying not to touch my face. so, so hard!

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | September 18, 2011 | Reply

  4. You have no idea until you become conscious of it, and even so, you find yourself touching your face! But go see it, Little Diamond, it is well done, and as scary as it is, our scientists DO prevail!

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 18, 2011 | Reply

  5. One of my old coworkers is OCD about cleanliness it gets frustrating, he has all kinds of anti bacterial wipes, and uses them like there is no tomorrow. Yet he is ALWAYS sick, ALL the time.
    I think the more people become OCD about being germ free, the less immunity they have against any type of bacteria.

    Comment by Chirp | September 20, 2011 | Reply

  6. I agree with you, Chirp. I am not (normally) germophobic, but I think it is wise to wash hands frequently, especially in cold and flu season. My secret weapons when I catch something are to hit it immediately with chicken broth (won ton soup with no won tons) and green tea with local honey. I think the secret is to get just a little sick, get those precious antibodies so you can fight everything serious off. So far, so good. 🙂

    It’s a very interesting movie, because it isn’t overly dramatized, and the cure is not a result of a miracle, but of hard work on the part of dedicated scientists.

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 20, 2011 | Reply

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