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Covid gave our world leaders the chance to be heroic like the ones in disaster films. Instead, they’ve acted like turkeys

Andrew Dickens
Andrew Dickens

Andrew Dickens is an award-winning writer on culture, society, politics, health and travel for major titles such as the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Daily Mail and Empire.

Andrew Dickens is an award-winning writer on culture, society, politics, health and travel for major titles such as the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Daily Mail and Empire.

Covid gave our world leaders the chance to be heroic like the ones in disaster films. Instead, they’ve acted like turkeys
When global disasters strike in movies, world leaders often forget political differences to do what’s right for the planet. But the response to Covid-19 has been confused, ineffective and self-interested. Where’s Morgan Freeman?

Can you imagine Donald Trump or Xi Jinping flying a jet fighter in a dog fight with alien spacecraft? Or Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin sharing their most valued scientific secrets to save a stranded astronaut? What about Jair Bolsonaro delivering a comforting speech to the world where catastrophe has killed billions and the human race will have to ‘reset’ with just a few lucky survivors?

You can debate pretty much anything in life but there is one indisputable fact: disaster films are great (prizes for naming the three referenced above). The same ingredients are always present: The disaster (obviously), the heroic and/or rogue scientist(s), the ordinary folk making extraordinary sacrifices.

You also need a sprinkling of world leaders making tough decisions and big speeches. Sometimes they get it wrong, sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they are downright heroic. They see a disaster happening and they do whatever it takes to battle it in the interests of everyone: see the above examples (Independence Day, The Martian and Deep Impact if you didn’t get them).

Sometimes, however, they act like turkeys. Like President Becker in The Day After Tomorrow, who denies climatic armageddon until most of humanity is extinguished, or President Anheuser in 2012 who, when the planet is ravaged by earthquakes and tsunamis, wants only elites allowed onto specially-designed ‘arks’. Stupid bastards.

And that’s how our world leaders have acted in the face of Covid-19. They’ve shunned the chance to be heroic and resisted ideas such as pooling resources and information, uniting for the common good, lending a hand to the less fortunate, trusting each other – or taking a chance on a well-meaning rogue scientist who might just have the key to everything thanks to years of niche research in a tiny Missouri lab.

Instead, they’ve resorted to a self-interested blend of blame games, denial, cock-ups, espionage and hogging drugs and wealth.

China massively underplayed the seriousness of coronavirus when it first emerged. The USA bought up the world’s supply of Remdesivir, the first drug to suggest even the slightest effectiveness against the disease. The British government has been handing out lucrative Covid-related contracts to its mates. Russia has been accused of trying to spy on vaccine research programmes. Sweden has pretty much ignored the whole thing. The European Union has squabbled about how much money its poorer nations can have and how much they have to pay back. There’s been more finger-pointing than in ET.

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And how much have these wealthy states done to help developing nations? Hmm. It’s such a colossal clown show that the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) predicts that poverty and economic inequality will see huge numbers of people migrating from their homes in search of food and vaccines. Would Bill Pullman or Morgan Freeman have let that happen?

Some members of the public haven’t been all that heroic, either. They’ve coughed in babies’ faces, held protests against being asked to wear a mask for a few minutes if they're in a shop, murdered people for doing their job in trying to protect themselves and others. I don’t remember anyone trying to sabotage Bruce Willis’ massive drill in Armageddon because they thought the Earth-bound meteorite was “just a pebble.”

I’m sure people will start yelling that the seriousness of coronavirus has been exaggerated, or fabricated by the Deep State to make us wear masks that can be tracked/poisoned by its Soros-funded Lizard paedophile masters. That’s OK, disaster films always feature deniers and conspiracy theorists. But I’d suggest anyone who thinks that Covid-19 isn’t a highly dangerous threat (even if you halve the recorded figures) should learn from the people in Independence Day who had a rooftop party to welcome the aliens.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I’m expecting too much of people conditioned to put their own interests first. Or perhaps this is only the second act and there’s a redemptive narrative arc which sees the US and China collaborate to save the world from the pandemic – and a post-credit scene in which Putin and Johnson express a passionate love for each other.

But perhaps I watch too many films.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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