World War Z Am Legend

This post contains spoilers.

World War Z is not a zombie movie. World War Z is an epidemiology movie. I suggest the retitle: Zombie: Patient Zero.

World War Z is fulfillingly entertaining. It is also –with sad predictability– one more failure to use a powerful platform to make social comment and encourage dialogue and positive action.

World War Z supposedly cost $200 million dollars to make. With that money you could feed all the hungry children in the United States three meals a day for a month, or provide a sustainable source of water to all 9 million inhabitants of Haiti 200 times over.

With that kind of spending power I would think it wouldn’t be hard to get some star struck local medical student to check the list of diseases rattled off after “It would have to be bacterial…” to make sure they were all bacterial.

And since you have the pulpit and the dollars to really execute it beautifully, why not paint the picture of a more ideal world society? Or at least a realistic one?

15% of the active duty armed forces in the United States are women. How many women did you see on the US military ships and bases in this movie? Even as extras. Yes, yes, Daniella Kertesz gives us badass Israeli army officer Segen, who is a major presence in the last half of the movie. Appreciated, but not good enough. Army service is mandatory for all Israelis. Why weren’t the forces depicted there nearly 50/50?

I went to Cornell. Admittedly I was pretty amused when the Harvard doctor proved more book smart than street smart (or physically coordinated) about 20 minutes in. And good job casting someone brown as a medical prodigy! But he is Indian (model minority stereotype) and British (There are no Indian-Americans? Or Indian Indians? They can’t get into Harvard?). And what about all the other excellent institutions world-wide, particularly those in places more used to constant outbreaks of nasty diseases? Why wasn’t he a Hopkins trained Honduran? Or a she? Or an Indian trained at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which Elyses Gabel fit rather nicely.

Why was there only one female scientist with a speaking part at the WHO? Though props for her being possibly ethnic, and the one who is paying attention to let Brad Pitt into the lab.

One of the only black women in the movie is the zombie captured and isolated for study at the WHO facility in Wales, a country that is ethnically 95% White. REALLY?! On the other hand, I think the lab coat was meant to indicate that she was an employee.

I did not see a single differently abled person. Mute, deaf, folks with prosthetics, etc. would absolutely be able to run away. And some of those with more severe disabilities might be ignored based on the hypothesis of the viruses’ requirements.

Finally, Francis Lawrence called, he would like his ending to I Am Legend back.

I do actually understand how a movie can cost $200 million dollars. I know Brad Pitt cannot help being white and male. I even empathize with those who, slightly embarrassed that they just had a good time, will huffily whine “It’s just! a movie.” But much like being made of the food we put in our bodies, the society we create is made of the philosophies we feed ourselves. And the most insidious are those we demand and accept without observation or comment. If we don’t ask better of the words, images and imagery we consume, we will blind ourselves to change and difference and fear it.


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