Of Genes and Germs: The Agenda of Health in Contemporary Hollywood

Elwin John


Within the digital labyrinth, our telling of the medical present and future is also mediated as expected, by a web of technological upgradations. Science and technology may have strengthened the health security of its citizens and so did the old villains/attackers of the human body which have become more powerful. Deadlier viruses have penetrated into the complex genomic structures of the human race which have paved the way for invention of human supportive vaccinations and also destructive possibilities of biological warfare. Through this paper, I study this tensely and anxious predicament of human beings as conceived and represented in popular cinema. With the help of certain select texts, Steven Soderbergh Contagion (2011), Wolfgang Petersen’s Outbreak (1995), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later (2007) and Marc Forster’s World War Z (2013), I explore the sabotage of a specific individual agency- the human body and the ensuing chaos and disorder. While this paper will encompass the fear of the malign agent or the contagion and the cultural representation of health, I argue that the agenda of health may not localise/concentrate the workings of power to a privileged minority, but rather because of being a common requirement, this agenda can control and disrupt the entire social order of the world. The possibilities of this paper are limited within the framework of ‘virus’ as the agent, ‘health’ as the agenda and the human ‘body’ as the agency where various mediations could occur.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2015.129


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