This thing: COVID-19

by | Dec 7, 2020

Coronavirus in the lungsWe’ve talked about the intersection of art and science for several years now, but this topic seems to be more relevant than ever right now in the era of Covid-19. This blog post may inspire or inflame, depending on your outlook, so here we go:

Many in the U.S. have turned their backs on science. And, in some ways, it’s understandable, at least in the instance of Covid-19, because the flood of conflicting guidelines on best practices is overwhelming. And, of that deluge, some of it is good while some of it has been politicized. The content ranges from minimalist at best, to fabricated at worst.

What also makes matters worse is that most people not involved with science don’t understand the concept of “we are just now beginning to gain some understanding into how this virus behaves in humans.” Research is, by its very nature, a messy thing, and often what scientists know about a thing begins to change as they learn more. Which makes some people very suspicious. When the results of ongoing “research” are reported by the media as ironclad “truth,” the idea of what research is, becomes misunderstood and public trust can become compromised. However, at this point, many truths have indeed been established. So why isn’t the message getting across?

An interesting article in today’s LA Times echoes our concern:

For starters, people today consume the best visual content the world has ever seen, in the forms of film, television and online. They are discerning and very sophisticated in their consumption of that content. So why on earth can’t the CDC and other government entities tasked with disseminating relevant healthcare information step up to the visual level present in those other industries? It cannot be a question of funding—there is more than enough to get the point across in impactful and visually visceral ways. Perhaps there aren’t enough hybrid thinkers within government who can span the gap between the scientific world and the rest of the world, and effectively relay that content to the public.

If we’re wrong, and these entities are creating and disseminating truly great visual content that makes people stop in their tracks and pay attention, then we will happily stand corrected. But, so far, what we’ve seen has been less than inspiring, and not at all arresting.

And it needs to be.

Some of you may remember the anti-smoking ads several decades ago by a group called They were stunning, intense and completely unapologetic in their delivery. See:

Perhaps a group like that could partner with the CDC to get people to understand, for example, that masks only protect people when everyone wears them. They are there to keep your germs out of someone else’s lungs. And since it’s hard to know when someone actually starts shedding the virus, and since that can happen before the onset of symptoms, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I have not (yet) buried a friend or a family member, and I sincerely hope that day is waaaay in the future, and not because of this virus. Why is it so hard for some to wear a mask? Is it because, by doing so, they’re acknowledging that this is a full-blown crisis, and that scares them? Guess what? They should be—we are in the worst healthcare crisis in a hundred years. Do the right thing. Think of others, not of yourself.

These PSAs will have to be in your face, or at least, ON your face, pun intended. We don’t care who does it, as long as someone does. If you care, email us—we want to know what you think. The time for sitting on the sidelines and waiting for someone else to step up has long since passed.