Thrills of public healthBMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6985.1015 (Published 15 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1015
- Carl Elliott
Infectious diseases seem to affect Hollywood the same way they affect the human body. Temperatures rise, pulses race; sometimes the patient goes into a full blown septic shock and delirium sets in. Epidemic movies can be thrilling, but they are rarely clear headed; in fact they are often completely deranged. But then clear headedness has never been one of Hollywood's defining characteristics. Spectacle is where Hollywood excels, and what could be more spectacular than an epidemic racing maniacally out of control, striking people down like a crazed assassin, leaving mayhem in its wake? The virus was made for Hollywood.
Made, and sometimes just made up. It takes more than a little adjustment to make a thriller about public health, given that public health is not as a rule the most thrilling of medical specialties. But with the right kind of embellishment, even epidemiology can be exhilarating. In the movies, infectious agents move like lightning and kill even faster, usually in a manner designed …