There are a few things in life I’m absolutely positive of and this is one: I would have gone feral for Elvis.
In another life, I was born to be a roadie. Going on tour buses with bands across the country, living my best life with my rockstar boyfriend.
That lifestyle isn’t new – Elvis started all of it indirectly. He mesmerized people with hip-shaking dance movements and promiscuous lyrics. He made both men and women want to be freer when it came to music.
Over the years there have been plenty of odes to Elvis Presley. Many have played the crooning heartthrob, but few have done it with success. Filing those blue suede shoes is an incredible daunting project – there’s so much to get right, and so many opportunities for error and criticism.
People want an Elvis that makes them feel like he’s still with us; still an unfound symbol; still impacting the music industry as we speak. They want a star they can continue rooting for after the credits roll. For Baz Lurhmann, Austin Butler was everything and more.
All Shook Up About Austin
We’ve seen Austin Butler in The Carrie Diaries and Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood, however he hadn’t quite achieved the level of stardom he deserved. That is, until he was cast as Elvis. The buzz around Butler and the movie itself has been noteworthy on its own. From an accent he can’t quite shake, to an honorary member of the Presley family, Butler is on everyone’s feed.
While the general public has only been allowed sneak peaks of the movie through trailers and short clips, that hasn’t stopped the entire world from paying attention. It seems we’re all on the edge of our seats to see what Butler and Tom Hanks have in store for Elvis.
Everyone is crazy about Elvis again.
Feel The Beat
Not only does the movie look phenomenal, but it comes with a soundtrack featuring some of the hottest names in music right now. Doja Cat’s Vegas, written specifically for the movie is an instant bop and top-charter.
Doja Cat isn’t the only name to look out for on the soundtrack. Artists like Tame Impala, Stevie freaking Nicks, Diplo, and Eminem are all featured, so you know it’s going to be absolutely fire.
The soundtrack has a mixture of original music and covers of Elvis songs, some done by Austin Butler himself. Since Elvis’ music changed the industry so much, you already know that the soundtrack has to be equally as iconic and groundbreaking.
Although we have only heard snippets of other songs, Vegas sets the tone. This movie is huge in every aspect - a large production for a large audience.
The Battle With The Box Office
While the hype is there, the real question is if Elvis can really spur putting getting people back in the theater. During lockdown, streaming services took over the world. Movies were not only released on subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu, but they even started making their own, eliminating the need for people to go to an actual theater.
Much like other aspects of life that we’ve grown accustomed to during lockdown, this trend didn’t die once restrictions were lifted. We returned to semi-normality and instead, streaming services continued to flourish – we need look no further than Netflix themselves releasing Oscar-worthy movies and increasing their subscription fees.
Big name movies with big name actors continued to be released online and in theaters, with theaters taking a major hit. The 2021 global box office was down 50% from pre-pandemic years, showing just how little people were willing to leave their homes for the sake of a movie experience. However, with major movies like Spiderman: No Way Home, West Side Story, and now Elvis, the box office is looking to see major improvements.
‘Coming to a theater near you’ has never been more relevant. No one saw a need for going to the theater when you can bring the theater to you. That is, until theaters started closing for good. Now, we risk losing movie theaters and one the ultimate date night spots if people don’t start showing back up.
For those who may be thinking the MCU saved cinema, I’d like to preface that it’s a little different. Superhero movies and action-packed heavy hitters are all but guaranteed to get seats filled in theaters. However, any other movie that doesn’t have an already solidified and motivated fan-base isn’t going to get as much foot traffic. The two biggest movies in the post-pandemic box office are Spiderman: No Way Home – a superhero movie – and Top Gun: Maverick – a sequel to an all-time classic film.
Elvis will be the real test. A movie drawing this much buzz has the potential to pack theaters, potentially drawing in the biggest numbers since Marvel – perhaps a new foe for the MCU after all.
Not only did Elvis receive a ten minute standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival this year, but Lisa Marie Presley herself even gave Austin Butler her stamp of approval as Elvis. With the myriad of Elvis impersonators out there, I’m going to calm any Suspicious Minds and say this is the highest level of praise any Elvis can achieve.
So you finally caved and got a Disney+ account. Or maybe you finally convinced your roommate/friend/parent to give you their password.
Whether you needed access to the exclusive content to watch Beyonce's Black Is King, Taylor Swift's Long Pond Sessions, Marvel's WandaVision (no, there will not be a Season Two unfortunately), or even High School Musical: The Musical: The Series because you're regrettably into that "drivers license" song (this is a safe space, you can admit it), you have it now, and it can be overwhelming to figure out what to watch when your series binge is over.
So between waiting for each new episode of Loki to premiere, the appeal of Disney+ is the wealth of nostalgia it offers. From the Disney Channel Original Movies you watched in your childhood and haven't thought about in years to family friendly slapstick comedies to watch as background noise, and not to mention all the Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars films, there's so much to watch but luckily we have the time.
Aside from making your way through the Marvel catalogue, here are some of the best forgotten deep cuts buried in the Disney+ archive.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997)
What a timeless duo
We've said it once and we'll say it forever: Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1997 Cinderella was lightyears ahead of its time, and still holds water.
So much of the film was revolutionary. Brandy's role as Cinderella was a big moment for Black girls everywhere and for Black culture, and the supporting cast of Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, Paolo Montalban, and not to mention Whitney Houston is still the only good example of colorblind casting.
After months of pleading from fans, the film recently made its way onto Disney+ and is delighting a whole new generation just as much as the old ones. You never grow out of the feeling of effervescent joy and almost juvenile hope you get from hearing Whitney Houston sing that "impossible things are happening every day," and now more than ever that's something we all need to hear.
The Mighty Ducks (1992)
Like so many classic Disney films, The Mighty Ducks got a remake. The new version, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, shows a present day version of the titular team which is no longer a home for misfits and underdogs but an exclusive, competitive powerhouse — we all become the things we hate, I guess. Naturally, the new series follows a new team made of underdogs to reinvent the classic sequence of the original in a new context.
Whether you're catching up to gear up for the reboot or disavowing the new version completely, the 1992 film is the kind of movie you can watch on repeat. Starring a young Joshua Jackson as Charlie and Emilio Estevez at his peak, you can't go wrong with the feel-good coming of age story — or even with the sequels, which are also all available to stream.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Over the 30 years since its release, The Princess Bride has endured. Each rewatch is a reminder of how much of its language and how many of its jokes are embedded so deeply into our cultural lexicon. The casting also feels like a minefield of memory, remembering what younger versions of household names looked like when they were only sort-of famous.
What makes The Princess Bride a classic is that it is, at its heart, a classic story. But its self-awareness makes it more than just a fairytale or even just a slapstick adventure story. It's a little bit of everything for everyone. (Thank God Quibi failed before it could manifest its Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner remake.)
Sky High (2005)
Peep Cousin Greg in the back
Sky High somehow only gets better with age. For example, we couldn't appreciate then that the angsty Warren's name was literally a play on War and Peace. And who could have predicted that the then awkward and nerdy Nicholas Braun would now be known as the still awkward but even more beloved Succession character Cousin Greg?
Disney may have all the Marvel films on deck, but Sky High doesn't take itself so seriously. It's like a goofier version of X-Men, less concerned with the grit and the angst and more so with the characters' coming of age.
Cool Runnings (1993)
The ultimate feel-good film, Cool Runnings tells the story of the first Jamaican bobsled team. Based on a true story, the film follows a team of Jamaican sprinters who miss out on qualifying for the Olympics as runners so instead take on the winter Olympics as bobsledders.
Cool Runnings is all heart. It executes the underdog formula at its best with a cast of memorable characters, a constant stream of jokes, and a team that keeps us rooting for them on every rewatch.
Sister Act (1992)
Whoopi in the '90s didn't miss. When the GameStock thing happened, I rewatched The Associate (despite its unfortunate Donald Trump cameo) to pretend to understand Wall Street and, like, stocks. And to me, her Oscar-winning role in Ghost eclipses even the scene where Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore make the pottery or whatever.
But without a doubt, the Sister Act films are the best Whoopi Goldberg features — so good it's hard to choose a favorite between the original and the sequel with a young Lauryn Hill. But since they're both on Disney+, we don't have to choose.
Remember the Titans (2000)
Sorry Sandra Bullock in the Blind Side, Remember the Titans was the sports movie that fixed racism — or at least made the most enduring attempt. The post-racial fantasy, ubiquitous in the late 90s and early 2000s, imagines that good will and football are enough to change the world, and I almost believe them.
The Super Bowl: redundant. Denzel Washington: at his best. Remember the Titans might, admittedly, be overly simplistic about the causes and effects of racism but the chemistry between characters is compelling enough to carry the film and make it into something heartwarming and triumphant.
Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone plays seemingly on repeat on every cable network every Christmas, but in the off season it's nowhere to be found. Now that the series is on Disney+, there's no need to wait until December to watch it. There's no wrong time to watch Macaulay Culkin run around his house setting booby traps and laughing in delight.
Let's forget for a moment that the Hanks currently in the spotlight is Chet Hanks for his White Boy Summer and return to simpler times: when Tom Hanks immortalized the character of Woody in Toy Story.
The saga lasted four movies and fourteen years, culminating in the 2019 Toy Story 4 which had audiences of children and grown ups alike in tears, but the first is still the best to recapture that childhood feeling instantly.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson attending the 77th Golden Globe Awards Arrivals at The Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Photo by Hahn Lionel/ABACA/Shutterstock
When the coronavirus first began to sweep the world in early 2020, few could imagine that in November we'd still be fully immersed in it, living in a world ravaged by fire, disease, and chronic governmental ineptitude.
Today the United States has reported more than 250,000 COVID-19 deaths, and that number shows no sign of decreasing. The virus has spared no one and nothing, and Hollywood and the entertainment industries were hard-hit, with even some of the world's largest and wealthiest stars relegated to their beds, forced to turn to Instagram for sympathy and updates.
Here are some of the most famous people to confess that they received a positive COVID-19 test. It's likely that many other famous people had the virus and either were never diagnosed or chose not to share their stories. The list also doesn't begin to cover the tragedy of all those who died from the virus, or the agony felt by those whose lives were torn apart by the pandemic and other crises in 2020.
But even these few stories are testimonials to a virus that proved itself to be far more powerful than mankind's most renowned figures. And, if the fact that Tom Hanks is still isolating is any proof, it's not over yet.
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the early days of the virus. Their revelation, posted on March 11th, shocked the world and made many people realize just how serious the pandemic—then still in its first stages—actually was.
Now, Hanks is isolating in Australia six months after his diagnosis after returning to continue filming an Elvis biopic, directed by Baz Luhrmann. His arrival has prompted a discussion about re-infection rates and whether people need to re-quarantine after they have the virus.
Elba and his wife, Sabrina, both tested positive for "very mild," asymptomatic strains of coronavirus in March and have since fortunately recovered. The pair self-isolated in New Mexico, where Idris had been filming a movie, before returning to London in May.
The Bachelor star and former NFL player was diagnosed with coronavirus in March. "The last few days were rougher than I expected," he wrote of his experiences with the virus. "The most prominent symptoms are my cough, night sweats and shortness of breathe. Breathing is challenging, the best way to describe it is feeling like I only have access to 20% of my lungs."
"I'm hopeful that they are starting to work! This morning was the first time that I've felt any real type of improvement since the beginning of this," he wrote in a post. "I'm hopeful that I've turned the corner and will be back to 100% soon. We are very lucky that all of this was manageable at home after getting the proper medicine."
Underwood isolated on the third floor of his girlfriend Cassie Randolph's house in Huntington Beach. "I'm on the third story of the Randolph's home, isolated from the rest of the family (The Health Department called and spoke to both Cassie's mom and me to make sure we understood timing and what to do)," he said. "When they make food they make an extra plate and drop it off and have been checking on me regularly to make sure I am comfortable and breathing! They have been amazing and have been taking great care of me."
Broadway's Aaron Tveit was starring in a production of Moulin Rouge when he began suffering from flu-like symptoms, but he and the show's cast still took precautions, canceling meet-and-greets and not allowing fans backstage. This was back in early March when confusing reports of COVID-19 were just beginning to flood in. Then Broadway went dark on March 12th, and Tveit received a COVID-19 test that confirmed he had the virus.
"I felt lethargic," Tveit said of his symptoms in April. "I never had the shortness of breath or fever that people were talking about. But then, very interestingly, I completely lost my sense of smell and taste."
"I wanted to put forward that this is such a serious thing. You could not have a fever, you could not have a shortness of breath, you could not have this dry cough, and you could still be positive. I wanted to share my experience and say this is very serious. You have to pay attention to this right now."
Tveit also expressed cautious optimism about Broadway's return, which feels a bit gut-wrenching given that he was interviewed in April and it is now September and Broadway remains closed. "Everything is a question: When? What? How? For the Broadway community specifically, I think everybody just feels unsure. There are shows that have just opened and yet to open that are hanging in the balance. We don't know when we will be going to work. Will people be interested in coming?" he said. Broadway shows are set to reopen in 2021.
Rapper Slim Thug was diagnosed with the coronavirus in March. "I wasn't outside clubbing or doing something extra. Everything I was doing was essential. I did get a haircut. I must have caught the spray," he said. "Outside of that, I went to get something to eat. I stayed in my truck, I never got out of my truck."
He had some choice words for those ignoring pandemic advice: "They sound like people who want the coronavirus," he said. "If you want it, that's how you should move. If you don't want it, you should stay home and stay out the way.
6. Jackson Browne
71-year-old Jackson Browne announced that he had coronavirus on March 24th in an interview with Rolling Stone. Fortunately, despite being in an at-risk age group, Browne's case wasn't too severe. "My symptoms are really pretty mild, so I don't require any kind of medication and certainly not hospitalization or anything like that," he said.
Browne suspected he contracted the virus at March's Love Rocks NYC concert, which featured Cyndi Lauper, Dave Matthews, Warren Haynes, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks performing at the Beacon Theatre. While crowds weren't invited to the show, Browne still suspects he may have contracted the virus from crew members or other performers.
Alyssa Milano has been suffering from an extremely prolonged version of coronavirus, which has lasted for months months. On April 2 she shared a photo of herself in an oxygen mask with the caption, "This was me on April 2 after being sick for two weeks. I had never been this kind of sick."
"It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest," she added. "I couldn't breathe. I couldn't keep food in me. I lost 9 pounds (4kg) in two weeks. I was confused. Low-grade fever. And the headaches were horrible." Despite her symptoms, Milano apparently tested negative twice for the virus, and she cited this as an example of the US's very flawed testing systems.
In September, she gave fans a long update about her condition, saying she was "starting to physically feel better," though she's still having heart palpitations and some other symptoms.
Singer Pink had a terrifying experience in the early days of COVID-19, which also affected her 3-year-old son, Jameson. "We have been really, really sick. My 3-year-old, Jameson, has had the worst of it. I've had many nights where I've cried and I've never prayed more in my life," she said on Instagram.
"It was terrifying at one point," Pink later told Ellen over video chat. "I've had really, really bad asthma to the point where sometimes I end up in the hospital. I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn't breathe. I needed my nebulizer for the first time in 30 years. I couldn't function without it. That's when I started to get really scared."
Pink has also donated $1 million to healthcare workers on the frontlines during the pandemic.
The Rock, his wife Lauren, and his two daughters Jasmine and Tiana all contracted the coronavirus in early September. The Rock, who is the world's highest paid actor, confirmed this in a September 3rd Instagram video. The diagnosis was a "a kick in the gut," the actor said, as his family was "disciplined" in following safety protocols.
Fortunately, the actor's daughters only suffered from sore throats for a few days before bouncing back to normal, though Johnson and his wife apparently had a rougher go. "I can tell you that this has been one of the most challenging and difficult things we have ever had to endure as a family," Johnson said. Yes, COVID-19 can level even The Rock.
The singer-songwriter and Waitress creator shared her experience with COVID-19 in an instagram story posted in early April. "I had it, just so you know. I'm fully recovered, just so you know," she wrote. "And I am just thinking about all the people who are walking through this really tricky time and sending a lot of love and just being really grateful for every easy breath and every day that I get to be walking around. I'm really quiet right now and will probably continue to be quiet, just sort of taking all of this in and having a lot of feelings, as I do."
Later, Bareilles shared more details about her experiences. "You really have to listen to your body, rest and pay close attention if you're having any respiratory issues," she told People Magazine. "But it was scary because you're waiting for it to get worse the whole time. So I can understand why it's a really panic-ridden time for so many people."
11. Sturgill Simpson
The musician started experiencing coronavirus symptoms on March 13 but was unable to get tested until a month later. "They pulled the plug on our tour March 12 and I returned home. This photo was taken at 9am on March 13th when my wife took me to our local hospital ER due to chest pains, fever, and pre-stroke blood pressure levels," he said in a caption on a photo he took in a hospital bed.
]"I spent an hour listening to a (highly condescending) Doctor refuse to test me because I 'did not fit testing criteria' and tell me why it was impossible that I had contracted the virus due to its extreme rarity and that it was not in western Europe yet during that same period (which we now know is incorrect) even though I was told by two nurses that I was the first person their hospital had walk in requesting to be tested...," Simpson added.
"Yesterday on Friday April 10th, after almost one month without any symptoms, I received a call from the Nashville CDC stating that my test resulted in a positive detection for Covid-19," he continued. "My wife (who has been by my side since Europe) tested negative."
Simpson blamed the delay in results on the U.S. government's ineptitude and Trump's refusal to believe in science. "At least our Government appointed task force headed by a man who does not believe in science is against mass testing and we now have a second task force in the works to 'open America back up for business'!" he finished.
The Breaking Bad star was apparently diagnosed with COVID-19 the very first weeks when the virus hit the USA. "We were very fortunate," he said of his and his wife's "mild symptoms." He and his wife, Robin Deaden, only experienced a "couple days of feeling achy" and "a week of severe lethargy."
But he chose to remain quiet because "I didn't think that the world needed another celebrity saying, 'Hey, I had it!' so I just didn't say anything and went about my way," he said.
The world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, announced that he is self-quarantining for COVID-19 on August 24th. Bolt celebrated his 34th birthday in Jamaica with a mask-free party, and though he did not confirm that he had the virus, an official Jamaica's health ministry confirmed that he tested positive.
"Just to be safe I quarantined myself and just taking it easy," the legendary Olympian wrote in a social media post. Confirmed cases in Jamaica have reached 3511, with 40 deaths, and 73 new cases were confirmed on Thursday September 10.
Robert Pattinson was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late August on the set of The Batman. Pattinson, who plays the film's title character, reportedly caught the virus during filming in the UK and is now self-isolating while some production continues on the film.
Photo from: Screenshot of What Happened on September 11 / YouTube.com
For Americans, 9/11 was more than just a horrendous terrorist attack.
9/11 changed the very fabric of American culture. Even for people who didn't lose anyone close to them in the tragedy, life seemed to shift post-9/11. Many realized that their world was much darker and much less safe than they had once imagined. Fear of outsiders seeped into public consciousness. Some of it was warranted, but a lot of it was not. Opposing parties briefly united under the banner of American pride and then separated almost as quickly in disputes over how to best move forward.
So, naturally, 9/11 is an incredibly relevant topic in discussions of American culture and media. It's weird to think that many kids growing up now have no real knowledge of the attacks themselves or what America was like before them. HBO's documentary, What Happened on September 11, which aired on the 18th anniversary of the attacks, aims to fix that by educating kids about the subject in a way they can readily understand.
Screenshot of What Happened on September 11 trailer / Youtube.com
Documentaries like this are necessary to preserve and teach about history. But what about fictionalized movies that use 9/11 as a source of entertainment? Are those movies positive, too, or just exploitative?
One of the biggest issues with movies based on real-life tragedies is how pandering many of them seem. In most cases, these "real life terrorist attack" movies capitalize on specific instances of human suffering to turn a quick buck from a niche audience who is riled up on a cocktail of patriotism and jingoism but also most likely have no real connection to the tragedy (otherwise, a dramatization would probably be too upsetting). In other words, movies based on real terrorist attacks rarely exist to further any discussion or memorialize the victims––they exist to profit off tragedy, using the suffering of others as a form of entertainment.
But there are a lot of 9/11 movies––a lot––and it would be unfair to lump all of them in the same profit-mongering boat. Some are certainly better than others, but for discussion's sake, let's take a look at two examples: Remember Me and United 93.
Screenshot of Remember Me / Youtube.com
Remember Me is definitely one of the worst 9/11 movies (and possibly one of the worst movies ever made). It's a romantic drama starring Robert Pattinson and functions as a pretty standard drama until the end, wherein Robert Pattinson dies in 9/11. It's absolute garbage and essentially turns one of the most tragic events in modern history into an M. Night Shyamalan-type twist.
The biggest problem with Remember Me, though, is that there is no reason for the movie to involve 9/11. It could have used literally any generic "random" tragedy and gotten the exact same result within the context of its narrative. "Life is fleeting, you never know when bad things can happen, yadda, yadda, yadda." Instead, it risks opening relatively recent wounds (the movie came out in 2010) for people who actually lost loved ones in an attack and, presumably, wouldn't have knowingly signed up to watch a 9/11 movie in the first place.
Screenshot of United 93/ Youtube.com
United 93, on the other hand, is probably the closest a 9/11 movie has ever come to being a good film. The drama-thriller depicts the titular flight which was hijacked by terrorists but crashed in a field after passengers fought back. The movie is genuinely very nerve-wracking, presented mostly in real time, forcing the audience to question how they would react in a similarly fraught situation.
With that being said, the movie is still rife with the warts of its genre. It was allegedly made with cooperation from all of the passengers' families, but this was later disputed by one of the passenger's widows. That passenger, Christian Adams, received a contentious portrayal in the film, depicted as trying to appease the terrorists despite there being zero evidence that he did anything of the sort. In spite of the filmmaker's best efforts, United 93 is still prone to Hollywood-esque dramatization that, in this instance, spit on the memory of an actual victim. It's hard to say that making a tense thriller is worth it when it comes at the expense of a real, grieving person whose husband died in the attack.
So should there be movies about 9/11? More importantly, should there be movies about recent terrorist attacks in general? It depends. In the best case scenario, you make a technically "good" movie that's still morally dubious. Worst case scenario: You trigger the families of actual victims of a real-life recent terrorist attack. When it comes to "entertainment," there's a very thin line between drama and exploitation. Filmmakers need to understand that when they use real terrorist attacks as a springboard for their films, regardless of their intent, they risk reopening real wounds.
Tom Hanks arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The actor delivered a surprise virtual speech Saturday, May 2 to performing arts graduates of Wright State University in Dayton, OhioPeople Tom Hanks, Los Angeles, United States - 09 Feb 2020
Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
Back in March Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson contracted COVID-19 and spent weeks quarantining in Australia before they could safely return to the world.
Now, Tom Hanks has returned to Australia to continue filming Elvis, Baz Luhrmann's Elvis Presley biopic scheduled for release next year. But before Hanks can return to set and resume his role as Elvis's manager—Colonel Tom Parker—he is required by Australia's COVID measures to complete another two-week quarantine in the Gold Coast Hotel in Queensland.
Granted, Hanks and his wife managed to make the best of their last quarantine, so he should be able to handle two weeks of isolation without having any traumatic flashbacks to those four years he spent stranded on a desert island (Hey Google, can extended periods of isolation lead Internet writers to lose their grip on reality?). But the question remains, is the whole process really necessary?
After all, Hanks already had the coronavirus, and his body successfully fought it off, so what's the risk? Shouldn't he have the antibodies that make him immune anyway? Unfortunately, in the words of Cousin Greg, "We're not entirely sure, what it actually means (for getting it again!)"
Tom Hanks And Rita Wilson Suffered Completely Different Covid-19 Symptomswww.youtube.com
With such a new virus, it's impossible to predict the long-term effects. Studies have already shown that antibody counts can decline rapidly after a person recovers. That doesn't definitively mean that those people will be vulnerable to re-infection. It's possible that even undetectable levels of the antibodies could be enough for the immune system to mount a rapid defense against re-exposure... Or not.
We don't really know either how potent a defense the antibodies provide, or how long that defense will last. We also don't know whether a person with the antibodies poses a significant threat of spreading the virus if reexposed.
Sure, your body might kick into defense mode within hours of exposure, and maybe that protects you from developing any symptoms, but how long does it take for your immune system to fully wipe out the virus, and how much are you "shedding" in the meantime?
Further complicating the matter is the rapid way in which viruses can mutate. That's why there's a new flu vaccine every year, and why they're far from 100% effective. Maybe you're protected from one strain, but you end up getting exposed to another, and it's different enough that the vaccine is little help—though it may reduce the severity of your symptoms.
In the case of a global pandemic, the virus replicates countless times within hundreds of millions of people, giving it ample opportunity to mutate, adapt, and become something existing antibodies may not recognize. The more we work to contain the spread, the less risk those mutations represent.
With all these factors to consider, it's looking increasingly likely that hopes of "herd immunity" and of super-powered immunity provided by the antibodies were oversold. Sadly, even the promise of a vaccine fully releasing us from COVID's grip is beginning to look questionable.
We know how to fight it. So we can't stop fighting. The fact that you've already recovered from exposure to COVID-19 doesn't mean you can suddenly move through the world without a mask or a care, like the innocent child you were back in 2019.
And it doesn't mean that Australia should let you go shoot your movie without taking the most basic precautions—sorry, Tom.
Screenshot from: QAnon: The conspiracy theory spreading fake news / BBC Newsnight / Youtube.com
Update 1/22/2021: Following the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20th, many believers in QAnon lore have begun to question some of their convictions.
Many saw the inauguration as a final deadline for "The Storm" and the mass arrests they expected to publicly expose the cabal of deep-state Satanists. And both Jim and Ron Watkins have issued statements seeming to indicate the end of the Q era.
Ron Watkins urging his followers on Telegram to "remember the friends and happy memories we made together," and to "respect the constitution," while his father Jim Watkins posted on the reactionary micro-blogging platform Gab about the "historical value" of the Q movement and the fact that "the culture of our country changed because of it."
That much is certainly true. And in the wake of the Capitol Hill insurrection on January 6th — which saw one of Q follower shot dead, another leaving Mike Pence n ominous note, and numerous others arrested — the apparent change of heart may be inspired by concern that these cultural changes will invite unwelcome scrutiny.
Still, there is little doubt that some Q followers — as flexible as the acolytes of any other cult — will find ways to adapt their beliefs to the post-Trump era. Some are already beginning the process. Even if Q never reappears, the disturbed and unhinged worldview of Q followers is likely to remain culturally relevant for years to come.
There is a growing belief system in the US that is beginning to spread around the world.
Tied to a mystical struggle between ancient forces of good and evil that are secretly operating beneath the surface of our society, adherents believe they have been given the key to understanding the world.
QAnon Conspiracy Theory Lands On European Shores | Morning Joe | MSNBCwww.youtube.com
They believe that their mysterious prophet has awakened them to a reality that you and I will soon be forced to face: that global elites from Washington DC to Hollywood are part of a Satanic (possibly Jewish) cabal of murderous, cannibalistic pedophiles who torture children in order to harvest their adrenaline-rich blood and oxidize it into the addictive drug adrenocrhome.
They believe that our civilization must be torn down to the foundations in order to be rebuilt—or perhaps just to bring on the apocalypse. And, as it turns out, the only politician heroically selfless enough to bring the whole system crashing down is the alleged peeping tom of Miss Teen USA and well-wisher of Ghislane Maxwell, President Donald J. Trump.
From Evangelical Christians to New-Age yogis, basically anyone liable to distrust vaccines in favor of either prayer or organic vegetables is likely susceptible to Q's message of mainstream evil and corruption.
As it turned out, that April consensus would soon be undermined by Donald Trump and his ilk spouting off mixed messages, conspiracy theories, and anti-mask rhetoric. And under various states of lockdown and unemployment, increasingly disconnected, bored, and desperate people turned to weirder, darker corners of the internet for answers.
What makes the message particularly infectious is the way it's delivered. Originally posted on the /pol/ section of imageboard 4chan in mid-2017—amid a slew of similar anonymous posts from supposed political insiders —the cryptic "drops" delivered by a nameless informant claiming to have "Q clearance" (high-level access to classified government information) lend the whole thing a dire sense of secrecy.
As an added feature, the uncertain meaning and broken grammar of the posts allow individual followers to decode them communally—following the slogan "Where We Go One We Go All" (WWG1WGA), playing detective, and drawing conclusions that align with their personal assumptions about the world.
And if some of those conclusions—about Robert Mueller working with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton being executed in secret, or JFK Jr. faking his death to live as a man named Vincent Fusca—turn out to be wrong, that's only one refutation of a particular interpretation. No amount of evidence can touch the infallible source itself.
Unlike Pizzagate, which came before it, there is no Comet Pizza for a delusional gunman to invade—looking for kidnapped children. In that instance, when he discovered that there were no abducted children locked in the basement—because there was no basement at all—he and others were forced to acknowledge that they had some fundamental details wrong.
But when it comes to the cryptic ambiguity of QAnon, followers find evidence of the worldwide pedophile conspiracy all around them.
You might think that in a world where actual elite sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein were able to operate in the semi-open for years—using their power and influence to shield them from consequences—that there would be no need to construct elaborate fantasies.
Surely, with all their public connections to prominent cultural and political figures—some portion of whom were active participants in predatory behavior—QAnon adherents could simply extrapolate those relationships into the web of the secret pedophile network. While they certainly do that, even using phony, sloppily-made flight logs to Epstein's private island to implicate a then-teenaged Chrissy Teigen…that's not enough.
No, true devotion to Q means seeing evidence of Satanist activity everywhere. Let's say you're shopping for furniture online and stumble across an overpriced item with an odd name. Do you think, "That's weird, seems like a mistake?" No, you immediately start Googling the name to find a missing child with the same name. Boom, Wayfair child trafficking conspiracy revealed.
There's something undeniably noble about the role these people have assigned themselves in the imaginary reality they live in. They cut themselves off from friends and family, from church leaders and anyone else trying to convince them that they aren't living in a dystopian detective novel as part of the underground resistance. They give up everything to fight the deep state pedophiles.
But the QAnon cult isn't interested in any of that. The only part of the government you can trust is the Trump administration, and anyone who tells you that child trafficking is not primarily the work of an elite Satanic cabal is probably working for the elite Satanic cabal—if Tom Hanks is one of the bad guys, anyone can be.
So how do you fight the spread of misinformation that is so resistant to refutation and authority—with a community that fiercely reinforces it? Maybe you can't.
Maybe QAnon is destined to become the full-blown cult that it is quickly trending toward—luring in confused and directionless people to trade their money and their real-world relationships for a sense of purpose and an online community of fellow believers. And maybe that cult will react very badly—violently—to a "deep state" victory in the form of Donald Trump losing reelection in November.
But if we want to avoid that outcome, perhaps the best chance we have is to expose the identity of Q.
Unlike many cults—which rely on the charismatic appeal of the leader—QAnon works because of the leader's anonymity. It allows followers to imagine Q as a perfect embodiment of their ideals, working deep inside the structures of government power.
In this framing, Q must conceal their identity and communicate through coded messages in order to continue operating in the upper echelons of the American government. If Q instead turned out to be a pig-farming smut peddler living in the Philippines…that might change things.
As it turns out, the founder of 8chan (since rebranded as 8kun)—where Q has posted those coded messages since abandoning 4chan in November of 2017—has been claiming to know the identity of Q for some time now. According to him, Q is in fact a pig farming smut peddler living in the Philippines—and also the current owner and operator of 8kun…
In 2014, 8chan's founder, Fredrick Brennan, first partnered with a man named Jim Watkins, who had recently acquired the domain for Japan's most popular message board 2channel—through questionable methods.
Brennan had founded 8chan at the age of 19 to operate as a version of the troll-haven imageboard 4chan, but without moderators to interfere with "free speech" (i.e. hate speech and worse). After partnering with Watkins—then around 50—Brennan moved to the Philippines to work with him more closely.
At the time, Brennan was a vocal proponent of the misogynist "Gamergate" movement, and while he still holds onto some of the ideas of that movement, it's clear that he has matured a great deal and abandoned notions of free speech absolutism. In tweets he has disavowed much of the toxic behavior associated with gamergate and claims to have "moved on."
No doubt seeing the community he'd created become a haven for neo-Nazis, pedophiles, and mass shooters played a part in his growth. He resigned as the head of 8chan in 2016, selling the company to Jim Watkins. In 2018 he severed ties with Watkins and 8chan entirely and in 2019—following a string of mass-shooters posting their manifestos on 8chan—began actively calling for the site to be shut down, accusing Watkins of being "senile."
That was enough for Watkins to have Brennan charged with cyberlibel under the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Facing possible prison time—likely a death sentence for Brennan, who suffers from a genetic condition commonly known as brittle bone disease—Fredrick Brennan fled the Philippines back to the US earlier this year.
So perhaps he has a bit of a vendetta against Jim Watkins—who has denied being or having any close connection to Q. Nonetheless, the case Brennan makes is compelling, and Watkin's biography makes him sound like exactly the kind of person who would pretend to be a secret government informant in order to manufacture a conspiracy and prop up the presidency of Donald Trump.
A helicopter mechanic and recruiter for the U.S. Army at the time, Watkins got his computer training through the military, but he left the service during the dot-com boom to fully invest himself in "Asian Bikini Bar" and the related ventures of his company, N.T. Technology.
Is it the only place on the Internet where a secretive Government insider can be certain that coded messages won't be traced or altered? Or is Jim Watkins—who labels any criticism of his site as "a smear by the press"—driving traffic to his platform and using it to throw some smears back at the mainstream media? After all, how can the mainstream media judge 8chan's content if they are implicated in the Satanic pedophile cabal?
Evidence of Watkins' Connections to Q
This is not to say that Watkins invented QAnon. There are other likely suspects for that. But, perhaps, around the time that QAnon announced that 4chan had been "infiltrated" and switched to posting on 8chan in late 2017, Watkins may have taken over the role—which would explain how Q developed an interest in yoga and fountain pens...
At this point, QAnon is responsible for most of the traffic to the rebranded 8kun, and Watkins has not only promoted and defended the conspiracy theory and its merchandise through various venues, he even started a super PAC called Disarm the Deep State, with a stated mission to "mobilize a community of patriots in order to remove power from Deep State members."
Watkins being at the helm of the movement would also explain some of QAnon's antisemitic underpinnings and obsession with propping up a fascist leader, as Watkins previously used his news site The Goldwater to spread messages such as, "The third reich of germany corrected a crashing economy, and was brilliant in transforming Germany from a broken nation to a superpower in a rapid, methodical way."
Perhaps Watkins noticed that Donald Trump's brand of fascism (though replete with the usual trappings of nationalism, violent authoritarianism, xenophobia, aggreivement, false nostalgia, and militarism) lacked the structure of conspiratorial occultism that served the Nazi party so well. Maybe he felt he could provide that added structure from the sidelines.
If, as this seems to indicate, Watkins operates both 8kun and QMap.pub, Brennan argues that there is nothing to stop Jim—or perhaps his son Ronald Watkins—from posting as Q and faking the "tripcode" verification system.
We may never find out if this is true, and even if we do, it's likely that many QAnon adherents would never believe it—following the mantra of "do your own research" in order to confirm their biases, rather than listening to any legitimate sources of information.
But maybe, if we can spread this information about Watkins to enough prospective targets, we can prevent more people from falling prey to QAnon's cultic conspiracy movement. Maybe we can prevent more families from losing their loved ones to paranoia and delusion. Maybe we can prevent American Fascism from reaching its full, terrifying potential.
President Donald Trump—whose every move is already interpreted by QAnon followers as being secret messages directed toward them—was asked about QAnon at a recent press conference, and stated: "I don't know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate."
When the reporter followed up, noting that the movement believes him to be "secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals," he seemed to embrace the idea without much concern for its absurdity, saying, "Well, I haven't heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? ... If I can help save the world from problems, I'm willing to do it."