Oppenheimer is an epic film, and an extraordinary cinematic achievement. Writer-Director Christopher Nolan’s biopic is delivered first as a thriller, a race against the Nazis to build the atomic bomb, and then shifts to a political thriller as Washington politicians smear the scientist. Every tool of cinema is used with aplomb, all to serve the compelling personal story developing amidst the larger war story.
The editing in particular is outstanding and possibly the finest editorial work since JFK, a film to which Oppenheimer owes a great deal cinematically.
Truly great performances depend on an actor’s ability to disappear into a role, to so inhabit their character that we almost appear to be watching a documentary as opposed to a scripted work. To that end, the film is a career achievement for Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt as his wife, and Robert Downey, Jr. as Admiral Lewis Strauss. Indeed, Downey’s work has always been gripping because he is so adept at playing the reality of the moment that his work often feels as if he is living the role. This performance is the best of his career. The entire supporting cast of mostly unknowns, or character actors you’ve seen, are uniformly excellent.
All the elements of Oppenheimer add up to something rare in a film: it delivers more than mere reaction, but rather generates a true emotional response. It is the difference between letting out a shriek at a jump scare and literally leaning on the edge of your seat in a suspenseful sequence. I left the film feeling in my soul that the Trinity test marked an irreversible inflection point in human history, and a terrifying one at that.
Crumbling of The Psyche
The film presents a monumental event that is so beyond comprehension that it activates our individual and collective unconscious. It triggers thoughts that the world is in a similar place now, that everything feels as though it is on the brink, that things are moving too fast, that something isn’t right. As I considered these thoughts and feelings, I developed a theory that emerges from depth psychologist Carl Jung’s famous quote:
“The world hangs by a thin thread and that is the psyche of man…WE are the great danger. The psyche is the great danger. What if something goes wrong with the psyche?”
I believe something did go wrong with the psyche. It was Covid-19. More specifically, it was the policy and media response to Covid-19 that contaminated the collective psyche.
It began in government, where the initially unknown nature of the virus caused those in power to catastrophize and embrace an apocalyptic archetype. Were people to die in the streets, those in power would be driven from power. Hence, they concocted the “safest” solution in the form of lockdowns. The media, eager to stoke fear because it generates clicks, jumped on board. Together, these two corrupt entities stomped out rational thought, ignored data, and generated an hysterical response to a virus with 1.1 percent death rate in an extremely narrow demographic. They gave birth to mass psychogenic illness (MPI) in the populace, which has proven – and will continue to prove – catastrophic for America and the world.
Our Generation’s A-Bomb
This regrettable and destructive series of events is why I believe Covid-19 was the equivalent of our generation’s A-bomb.
Consider the parallels: The first reports of the virus serve as the analog of the Japan bombing(s). News reports created a chain reaction that coalesced into a psychic detonation of unprecedented proportion.
The rolling panic during the week of March 9, 2020, as exemplified by the run on grocery stores, gas stations, and toilet paper, serve as the analog to the shockwave(s) following the nuclear explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Government policy and media response poisoned American minds. The resulting mass civil liberties abuses serve as the analog to radiation poisoning. This is where the greatest damage was done, at least as far as Covid-19 is concerned.
For over 30 months, the federal government and left-leaning states and municipalities, in conjunction with an incurious and/or corrupt media, radiated America with gloom. Daily death tolls, hospitalizations, and case counts. Grim stories of “long Covid.” Dire warnings that we remain “socially distant” and cover our faces with masks, even though we intuitively knew they didn’t work. “Stay home, save lives.” “There is no treatment.” “You will die if you get Covid.”
It was relentless. It was unavoidable. It was all the media and government talked about and everything we were told has proven to be 100 percent wrong. All of it.
Extending the radiation poisoning parallel a step further, it is now apparent that the direct public policy damage will last a generation. Kids schooled via Zoom has resulted in significant learning losses. Childhood development has been stunted. There was a surge in alcohol use, drug abuse, spousal abuse (to record levels), child abuse, depression and anxiety, obesity, and suicide from the lockdowns. Hundreds of thousands of businesses were literally destroyed, along with the life’s work of their owners, while big-box retailers were allowed to stay open. In every category listed above, low-income and minority communities experienced the worst outcomes out of all demographics.
The subsequent demand and supply shocks, coupled with trillions in government helicopter money (and tens of billions of associated fraud), destroyed the economy, and resulted in the highest inflation in decades. This was the case around the world, not only in the US, and was even confirmed by left-leaning organizations such as the World Economic Forum. WEF estimates $17 trillion in lifetime earnings loss for students.
Morality and Authority
One reason why Oppenheimer lands with such power is that Oppenheimer and others struggle mightily with the moral challenges raised by their invention. Most morally healthy people reacted to the atomic bomb with some degree of mixed feelings.
There was no such moral struggle among the Covid-19 authoritarians. They refuse to acknowledge that every single element of their public policy choices and communications were completely wrong. They refuse to admit that they engaged in nonsensical rules that stripped individuals of their civil rights, and effectively forced Americans to be injected with an experimental drug that was leaky and non-durable, that appears to increase the likelihood of contracting the virus when injected multiple times, and whose safety appears increasingly in question. The science regarding the injections was faulty.
The authoritarians refuse to accept responsibility for these moral transgressions. Indeed, they justify it and imply they’d do it the same way again.
All this for a virus for which the death rate for confirmed cases was 1.1 percent. Seventy-six percent of deaths were in people aged 65 and older. Ninety-five percent of patients who died with Covid-19 had an average of 4 comorbidities, meaning they were already in poor health. There were just under 3,000 deaths in kids aged 14 and under, or 0.26 percent of total death, and 0.02 percent of those in this demographic (13.6 percent of confirmed cases occurred in kids aged 15 and under). Normal all-cause mortality for kids under age 15 is 0.0167 percent.
The atomic bomb changed the world forever. Its use raised the greatest moral questions in modern history which rational individuals debated, and continue to debate. A consensus emerged early on, which remains in place, that nuclear weapons must never be used again.
Covid-19 changed the world forever. Moral questions were buried by authoritarians and their water carriers. Rational individuals were silenced, censored, canceled, and lost their jobs. A consensus exists today among far too many Americans – that the same response must be used next time.
Which brings us to one additional tragedy that cannot be dismissed.
The freedom-loving response to this authoritarian crackdown was to fold. Yes, there were pockets of resistance. There were heroes of medicine who stood up for real science. There were pharmacies that filled prescriptions for forbidden medicines. There were jab-refuseniks. For the most part, however, America rolled over.
America was founded on a rebellion against a tyrant, but a rebellion requires rebels.
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