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The Stories We Tell: Contemporary Film and Media: Plots in the Coronavirus Age

Dr. Gordon discusses Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011), which is about the emergence of a pandemic and the responses aimed at stopping its spread. She concludes with a brief discussion of Plandemic, a short conspiracy theory video.

Published onJun 22, 2022
The Stories We Tell: Contemporary Film and Media: Plots in the Coronavirus Age


What will COVID-inspired movies be like? Will they focus on our time spent in isolation? On imagining what it will be like to get “back to normal”? On scientists collaborating around the globe as they try to create a vaccine? On protestors who insist on getting haircuts or entering a restaurant without a mask on before it is safe to do so? On politicians either scapegoating or taking responsibility for what happens to the citizens who inhabit the nations they lead? On frontline ER doctors or ambulance drivers risking their lives to treat critically ill people? It’s too early to know exactly how fictional movies will tell the story of this pandemic, but there have already been attempts to both document and propagandize the virus. This session will conclude with a brief discussion of Plandemic, a short conspiracy theory video that had over 8 million views just over a week after it was pushed out over YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo on May 4. Critical thinking and viewing skills have always been important, and disinformation has always been risky, but in our present times it is incumbent on all of us to be smart about how we consume information and understand what we are being told and by whom, as will certainly be the case in the film and media we continue to encounter about this virus and its impacts.

Marsha Gordon, Ph.D., is professor of film studies in the English department at NC State. She is the author of Film is Like a Battleground: Sam Fuller’s War Movies (2017) and Hollywood Ambitions: Celebrity in the Movie Age (2008), and co-editor of Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film (2019) and Learning With the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States (2012). Marsha does a monthly show, "Movies on the Radio," with NC Museum of Art film curator Laura Boyes and Frank Stasio, on 91.5/WUNC's “The State of Things.” She has also co-directed two documentaries, All the Possibilities… (2019) and Rendered Small (2017).

The Stories We Tell: Contemporary Film and Media: Plots in the Coronavirus Age (Marsha Gordon)

This video was originally produced for an audience of entering first-year and transfer students at NC State University as a part of an interdisciplinary experience. It is available for noncommercial reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 4.0 License,



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