As we come closer to the end of 2022, it occurs to me this past year seems to have been the year when the COVID pandemic became less serious than before.
In large part, I suspect, is the amount of vaccines people have taken. As of October and according to bloomberg.com, 12.7 billion shots have been given to date worldwide. The same article notes 613 million doses have been distributed in the United States alone.
There’s also the fact that, unlike the early years of COVID, we now have a better understanding of treatments for those who are infected versus when precious little was known.
Nowadays, it is rare to see people with masks on in stores or out and about in general. I’ve had four shots, the two initial shots and two booster shots to date. I may have caught COVID during the very first wave of the pandemic and before we in the United States even knew it was here. We’re talking about very late January or early February of 2020.
My father, it turned out, caught COVID but didn’t know it… and why would he when it wasn’t yet thought to be in the U.S.? Anyway, people around him also got sick and that included me, though my illness was incredibly mild and amounted to feeling really fatigued. It wouldn’t be until nearly a year later when going to a yearly checkup that blood samples revealed he had COVID antibodies in his system and the only time he was sick was back then in early 2020.
Anyhow, by March of 2020 it was official that COVID was in the U.S. and it seemed the country and the world was in an upheaval.
And as I said above, it now appears the wave, now nearly three years later, has crested.
That’s not to say everything is what is was before. There are high rates of respiratory illnesses appearing in children and there are still those who are catching COVID. Hospitals, too, are seeing an influx of patients but, again, it seems like maybe the worst of it is over.
So are we approaching some return to normalcy?
I don’t think so. Not yet anyway.
I’m a big fan of movies but it seems like the movie industry in particular has taken some serious body shots from not only COVID but the internet and streaming services and I seriously wonder if it will every go back to what it was before.
When the COVID lockdowns began in earnest, there were several films the movie studios had hoped to release but were forced to hold back. Once they were released, it seemed like it was either too early or they wound up going to streaming and… I don’t know how “well” they did that way.
The bigger ones seem to be Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Wonder Woman 84, and the last Daniel Craig Bond film, No Time To Die. Regardless of what one feels about these three films, and there were those who didn’t like them, they seemed to come and go and I can’t help but feel they didn’t do all that well at the box office.
Since then, there have been movies that have done extremely well. Top Gun: Maverick, for example, has been a box office juggernaut. The latest Spider-Man film also did very well. But they seem to be exceptions rather than the norm.
The streaming services from the various movie studios tried to step in where movie theaters were unable to and certain movies were released “simultaneously” in theaters and streaming or, in other cases, very shortly after the theatrical release and this, I feel, might have created unintended consequences.
Why bother going to a movie theater, especially during the time when doing so might be somewhat risky, when you can simply watch the same film in your home and via streaming?
In the past, when we had crappy television sets, there was a clear visual advantage to seeing films in theaters. Nowadays, with new technology and genuinely massive television screens available showing films in Ultra HD, there is less and less difference watching at home versus in theaters.
The purchase of Warner Brothers has also resulted in some really concerning news. Of course there was the infamous “cancellation” of several features, including the all but complete Batgirl film, and one wonders if maybe the new company might be having some genuine financial difficulties.
James Gunn, director of Guardian of the Galaxy and the second Suicide Squad film, has been put in charge of the DC comic book character properties and reportedly they are coming up with some kind of multi-year plan for the release of features more akin to what Marvel did in its early phases.
I can’t help wonder if maybe at this point the whole superhero genre is dangerously close to being done.
Mind you, box office receipts would say otherwise but even the many Marvel properties released of late don’t seem to be garnering the enthusiasm of before, even if they do still seem to be box-office gold. I suppose, in the end, if they keep making a profit they will continue being made but where before you hardly heard anyone say anything negative about the Marvel features, now you have many people noting they don’t feel these newer works are all that special.
I’m no psychic so I don’t know how things will turn out. Perhaps the movie industry will dust itself off and get back on its proverbial feet and we’ll once again look forward to new releases like before.
And as the movie industry goes, perhaps so too will the rest of our lives. The pandemic sure does feel like it is slowly fading from our lives versus what we faced before.
Can a new normalcy return?