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Scene Selections: This is so sick

, and | Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Diane Park | The Observer

Dude, isn’t it sick? Like really though … so sick! No? Not sick? But sick. Oh, you meant … Yes. Ok. I get it. Not sick. But, like, sick.

“Nausea” by Jeff Rosenstock

By Mike Donovan, Scene Editor

“Nausea” isn’t a disease, as such. It’s more of a symptom. Sometimes it comes from the past: a few bad eggs, sour milk, reading in a car, watching Avatar in 3D only to have its problematic premise sneak into your nostrils and stink them up. But a lot of the time of it comes from the future: the consequence of feeling too much, planning too little and hyperextending one’s adolescence. When someone — and by someone, we mean Jeff Rosenstock — suffers from this particular brand of future-based nausea, starts “shake[ing] and sweat[ing]” but not “throw[ing] up” and saying things like “I got so tired of discussing my future / I started avoiding the people I love,”  your initial instinct might be to retreat from what seems noisy and messy beyond repair. Ignore this instinct. Listen. “Nausea,” as a symptom, points to a disease, an affliction of souls that may be incurable but is not necessarily untreatable. A dose of the present, for instance, might clear things up a bit.

“Children of Men” directed and written by Alfonso Cuaron

By Charles Kenney, Associate Scene Editor

“Children of Men” isn’t so much about the illness as it is about its repercussions. The film, which takes place seven years from now in 2027, depicts a United Kingdom (and planet) where every woman is infertile. Anarchy, chaos and ill-founded celebrity have ensued, creating a world where all hope has all but vanished.

The real terror of Cuaron’s 2006 masterpiece doesn’t come in the symptoms of the epidemic. Infertility is, of course, a very sad disease and one which is not desired by anyone, but its overwhelmingly-prominent presence throughout the world in “Children of Men” doesn’t seem to strike particular fear into any of its characters. The real tragedy of a disease like sterility spreading instead of a fatal one — like the coronavirus currently ravaging the Hubei province in China — is that the human race is forced to patiently await its own extinction. The youngest person in this dystopian world is always easy to identify, the population of humanity constantly dwindles instead of rising and houses increasingly lie vacant. “Children of Men” does not necessarily display this phenomenon explicitly, but it always hangs in the background — creating an atmosphere of perpetually-increasing tension.

“House” created and written by David Shore

By Nia Sylva, Scene Writer

“Everybody lies.” “Humanity is overrated.” It’s no wonder that a show overflowing with such words of undeniable optimism — such an unadulterated love of life, even — is one of my all-time favorites. I spent many long nights bingeing episodes and, regrettably, realizing that I am not cut out to be a doctor before “House” cruelly made an exit from Netflix. Now, I am forced to watch it on the NBC app, which is almost as bad as (shudder) live television, but “House” is worth the commercials. For one thing, it takes place in New Jersey — an obvious plus, at least as far as I’m concerned. And Hugh Laurie perfectly embodies the show’s title character, imbuing the misanthropic Dr. House with hidden layers of personality that make him endlessly interesting to watch. The script is sharp and engaging; its formula of medical mystery, trial, error and eventual breakthrough retains vitality throughout dozens of episodes, largely thanks to the dynamic relationships between its characters (House’s bonds with Wilson and Cuddy come to mind).

Most effective, though, are the cases themselves. I’ve never encountered an episode featuring a disease or condition that wasn’t fascinating, shocking, disgusting or all of the above. The “answers” to these diagnostic puzzles may be rare to the point of implausibility, but one thing is for sure: it’s never lupus!

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