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Shell Shocked: Fantasyland and the truth

By Staff | Jun 2, 2020

Art Stevens

There have been a number of movies and streaming series based on plots that are different from what really happened.

For example, “The Man in the High Castle” created a different ending for World War II. The plot line is based on the U.S. losing World War II and that Germany and Japan assumed control of our country. This twist to reality makes for lively viewing.

The movie “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” takes the position that Charles Manson and his followers didn’t in fact murder the actress Sharon Tate and her house guests after all. They were stopped before the evil event ever took place by Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The TV series ‘The Plot Against America,” which is based on a Philip Roth novel, takes the position that Charles Lindbergh was elected president just before World War II under the campaign pledge that he would keep the U.S. out of any war. He defeated Franklin Roosevelt and went on to set up a government patterned after Nazi Germany.

And the new series on Netflix called “Hollywood” took the position that a prominent movie studio in the early fifties took a chance on making a movie with an African American female lead. And in this fantasized twist of reality, the heroine not only goes on to win an Academy Award for best actress but that the movie itself wins multiple Oscars.

It’s nice to alter reality to suit literary purposes. It doesn’t really change reality but it certainly conjures up what might have been if things had happened differently. For example, what would have happened had Nazi Germany had the atomic bomb first? What would the last fifty years have been like if John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King hadn’t been assassinated? Or what would the world have been like had Hillary Clinton been elected president? I won’t go there because this isn’t a political column. Just conjecturing, that’s all.

But here’s one place I will go. What would the world have been like the past three months if the coronavirus hadn’t come along? That’s an easy one. Our lives wouldn’t have changed in the most abrupt ways imaginable just to stay alive.

Here we are all staying home, trying to prevent ourselves from climbing the walls (actually, that might be a new exercise to explore), overeating, excessive TV bingeing, too many naps and too many face masks to choose from.

Many of us are engaging in activities we never have before. In my case, I’ve become a classical pianist in just three months. Plus I’ve read the entire Sanibel phone directory and can tell you the phone numbers of every resident. I exercise by tapping my feet to Andrew Cuomo press conferences. And I’ve conquered my fear of losing at cards by not playing cards.

If we changed the course of history we would have immediately taken the coronavirus and sent it to another planet that has no life. There the virus would lose its potency because it would have nothing to latch onto. It thrives on humans but not on planet dust. And there we’d have our next Netflix streamer – a world saved by savvy scientists who were able to redirect the virus elsewhere while we all blithely continue to pollute the atmosphere.