The movie Contagion: Why is the blogger a villain?

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I enjoyed the movie Contagion.  It was a smart movie.  Contagion is based on the concept of a worldwide pandemic.  This could certainly happen in real life, and one day this movie may be considered prophetic.  I will address one aspect of this film: the character Alan Krumwiede as played by Jude Law.

In the film, Alan Krumwiede is a blogger who is the first person to comprehend the virus’ significance before it becomes widely recognized.  As played by Jude Law, he is an annoying gadfly, but also knowledgeable about his niche.  The character is a conspiracy theorist specializing in government/big pharmacy connections.

Here is the character as described in Wikipedia:

A conspiratorially minded freelance journalist named Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) posts video blogs claiming that he has recovered from his sickness using a homeopathic cure based on forsythia. Panicked people attempting to obtain forsythia overwhelm pharmacies and also accelerate the contagion as infected and healthy people congregate. Krumwiede leaps to national attention and during a television interview accuses Dr. Cheever of informing friends and family to leave Chicago before quarantine is imposed. It is later revealed Krumwiede was never sick but was attempting to boost demand on behalf of investors in the companies producing and distributing the treatment.

The scientists in the movie are rightfully portrayed as the heroes.  But the blogger is made the villain, spreading disinformation for his personal gain.  Movie reviews agree the Jude Law character is the movie’s lone villain.  Perhaps this was the director’s purpose, but I don’t think it is that simple.

At the beginning of the movie the blogger character recognizes the oncoming plague and tries to get the story published in the mainstream media.  Rejected, he takes his story in his own hands and blogs.  Yes, the character has concepts outside the mainstream, but he actually believes in them.

Later in the film, a hedge fund bankster type approaches the Jude Law character for inside information for exploiting the disease for profit.  The blogger bites at this opportunity, suggesting a homeopathic cure.  Nonsense, but when dollars are dangled in front of a blogger, no surprise there.

At the end of the movie, the character is arrested.  But he stands by his beliefs, and afterwards he is out videoing the consequence of the plague.  The blogger character would not be doing what he does if he did not believe in them.  He is not just doing this for money but for a personal cause.

I am a blogger in esoterica, not far removed from the movie’s blogger character.  I recognized the dynamic of the character:  to discover something new that is ignored or disrespected by journalism and society.  I deal with the paranormal, rejected by science but which I believe has serious but ignored truths.  As a blogger, I have sympathy for the movie’s blogger character.  And I like the illusion of a powerful blogger… but it’s only an illusion.

7 Responses to “The movie Contagion: Why is the blogger a villain?”

  1. oracle Says:

    Official science is helpless against death, accidents, natural phenomena and many sicknesses. It cannot actually foresee happenings beyond a narrow physical limit. Science likes to operate more with results than with causes and casts doubts on everything which cannot be tested.

  2. John Says:

    I dont understand why you have sympathy for a character that watched a pregnant woman die and gave her false information. Science as it always has been is the foundation for finding medical breakthroughs. A situation such as the one the in the movie is real and misinformation is an actual threat in the face of a pandemic because it is very easy to turn to whatever is alternative when there is no actual remedial relief.Its no different than a guy in a large coat selling false tickets to a gullible person when the real tickets are sold out.

  3. David Says:

    Hi John,
    I agree the character was portrayed as reprehensible. The same could be said of Julian Assange or Matt Drudge. Are they heroes or anti-heroes? In real life I judge a blogger if they are sincere in their viewpoint, and not necessarily if I share their opinions. Truth may be found in the strangest places (& blogs). The movie’s Jude Law character started out as an advocate of the new age media, and ended up exploiting it for personal gain. Shame on the character, but how many bloggers fall into the dark side…and end up wearing the Black Hat? Spammers, sploggers, trolls…they are far worse then bloggers with alternative ideas (and generally being ignored).

  4. Mack Says:

    David, any point you might have made is suspect after calling Matt Drudge a blogger. Matt Drudge doesn’t blog, he’s news aggregator.

  5. David Says:

    Hi Mack,
    You are correct, Drudge does links. However, he does have a viewpoint and his website is considered to be politically conservative. He uses his site to pick the links that promotes his worldview. Drudge has an agenda, which is ok, its his website.

  6. Me Says:

    When a person cannot explain his or her position without going into even mild hysterics, that should send off a warning flag. It’s one thing to be an advocate and speak on behalf of those who one feels do not have a voice. It is another thing to use that as a paramount to “play” both sides for greatest personal benefit. If you remember in the beginning of the movie he wanted all credit for the story (and of course to be paid). He threatened to sue. He was going to exploit anyone and anything by any means to become wealthy and well known. He would have achieved either but as one person suggested, he chose the dark path.

    Never be afraid to seek answers, but be afraid of those who seek reasons to be paranoid in order to cause panic and anarchy.

    There is a reason why people hide behind a keyboard and monitor.

  7. David Says:

    Hi Me,
    I suppose I have some sympathy for the movie’s blogger character because he operates outside what those in authority consider acceptable. A real-life example could be the culture wars between skeptics and believers in the paranormal. The skeptics completely dismiss any possibility the paranormal exists. They proclaim to be firmly on the side of science and anyone on the other side as only woo-woo. Yet parapsychology is making great strides despite being dismissed. Consider the near-death experience studies. If we only listened to official skepticism, it would never have been investigated. Skepticism is actually being put on the defensive. A lot of cutting edge ideas are nonsense, but not all of them are.

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