The Anchorman and the Alien

Hello out there. Or, rather in there. Gotten into a quarantine/shelter-in-place routine by now? Staying inside except for some modest amount of outdoorsy excercise, or to walk the dog (and pick up that pooch’s poop, okay? Unless it’s dropping a load in your own backyard, making it optional). Then comes the absolute need to get out to the grocery store. Mask on. Sanitizer in hand. Gloves on. Keeping your distance. Of COURSE you re doing things as prescribed by the medical experts. By now you know the drill. And you know how surreal, unsettling, mind bending a matter of staying the course is until a vaccine is created. However, the course just circles back to the same day, in defiance to what a calendar may otherwise suggest.

It’s Groundhog Day meets the Day the Earth Stood Still.

Groundhog Day is a funny but soulful film. It has a trajectory of one’s becoming more sensitive and self aware in spite of being trapped in a repetitve external sameness that kicks-in at exactly 6. A.M., to Cher singing I Got You Babe on a clock radio. The Day the Earth Stood Still is an edgy sci-fi thriller, a confrontation with an obstinate alien power threatening to “reduce Earth to a smoldering cinder” if nuclear proliferation isn’t reigned-in, with the potential to send nukes into space and threaten other life forms–such as the alien, Klaatu, sent from his deep space domicile to read the riot act to leaders world-wide. These two references to classic movies are relevant to what is going on in Covid World: people are virtually living the same day over and over, sheltering-in-place and trying to break the monotony inherent in this strategic battle plan to conquer the virus, which literally is threatening all of humanity. How much different–other than varying degrees of mental readiness, gumption, finding a sense of renewed purpose alone or with some family, perhaps with just that pooch or a kitty–can each passing day be from what preceded it? And each and every day has the same global threat ingrained in it upon our awakening,

There has been much speculation on how we come out of this looping, quotidian sameness. Will we all have soul-searched and learned how to be a better person, even if you were already quite self-satisfied with the face that confronts you in the morning mirror? Too soon to say, I suppose. We are, weather we want to acknowledge it or not, transforming, perhaps imperceptably and unconsciously so. This event undeniably changes everything. It holds a mirror up that not so much reflects who we are but what we are. It demands reflection. Assessment and re-assessment. We are being pretty much forced to reconsider everything that came before this came along. We will never be the exact same again, even if you think you will be. You would have to have your memory scrubbed clean to not know that nothing can ever be exacly the same again. We are all acting like we have never had to act before, writ large or small. Impossible to honestly deny that it isn’t so.

Do we not feel an uneasy cautiousness that accompanies our every touch of any surface, or the needed suppression of suspicion of being endangered by that trip to get more toilet paper, knowing this is how that invisible virus spreads–by being among others? Does your proximity alert alarm go off when someone in that store or even on the walkways invades that six foot distancing strategy? We are all, in a way Phil Conners, the Groundhog anchorman anchored in the same day, day after day after day… We are all Klaatu, potentially the univited alien that threatens humanity, one contagious encounter at a time.

Ah, but do not despair!

Keep in mind, Phil Conners finally breaks out of his recycled same-dayness and is a better person for the ultimately transformative experience. Klaatu and his menacing robot, Gort, depart after having warned humanity that it needs to change it’s ways. When a vaccine is developed, however far off that is, Covid will depart, having also given us all pause as to how to make this world a safer, saner place, a world that will have learned its lesson about living recklessly, ignoring common sense behavior that collectively invites catastrophy and carnage.

That’s me trying to put a positive spin on what we are all stuck in. So, keep on truckin’. Keep the faith (whatever one you choose). Time is, after all, on our side in that it doesn’t stop. Whatever day we are finally free to start our renewed lives (safely and sanely), however many more days that may entail, with the alien threat still in place, know that each day is a day closer to living to see the adage This Too Shall Pass proving its inexorable, inherent truth.

Excuse me now, please. Time to wash my hands. Again. And again. and …

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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1 Response to The Anchorman and the Alien

  1. Very apt analogies. I will have to revisit those films — and Contagion…


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