Remember Transformers? I’m just talking about Michael Bay’s first film in the live action franchise. I love that first movie. What a time capsule for 2007. And speaking of time capsules, the film plays with its own time capsule in the form of a frozen villain, named Megatron. You see, in Transformers, a big evil robot named Megatron falls on Earth thousands of years before the events of the movie, looking for a cube to build an evil robot army. Megatron crash lands in the Arctic, where an American expedition eventually finds Megatron in 1897, and the US government keeps him frozen and later decides to hide him by building the Hoover Dam around him. Decades later, Megatron is awakened from his frozen state and screams “I AM MEGATRON” and begins to whoop ass and kill everyone in sight. It didn’t take much to wake him up and the nonchalant attitude towards preserving what is very clearly an evil robot didn’t help.
I think about that a lot these days.
As the planet’s ice slowly but surely melts and government and populations around the world fail spectacularly to deal with a virus like COVID-19, I can’t help but feel like we have a lot of fuckin’ Megatrons waiting for us, frozen in the Arctic ice. That is to say, a lot of prehistoric viruses frozen in time, encapsulated for millions of years, just waiting to wake up, scream “I AM RETROVIRAL HYPERPLASIA” or something to that effect, and kill millions of people. And when I see governments fail at handling COVID, or people not even know how to wear a face mask over both their respiratory areas (mouth AND nose), or notice that half the population doesn’t think it’s real or doesn’t care, then damn. Don’t get me wrong, COVID sucks ass, but what makes it really suck said ass dry is that it’s so contagious, so it kills millions in swaths by being so prominent. The issue with diseases like Ebola is that they kill their hosts too quickly to spread, and sadly, COVID is excellent at spreading and great at killing the susceptible people.
So if we’re this pegged with COVID-19, what happens when we get something similarly respiratory, but even deadlier than COVID? And what happens if there are (and there are) so many viruses waiting at any given moment to break out of the Arctic? How many Megatrons are just waiting to wreak havoc, maybe simultaneously, once the ice melts? And what sucks about “The Megatron Moment” is that it’s totally possible, I would argue inevitable, but we don’t know when it’ll come. And the scariest part? It’s not taking anything else into account: viruses that come from our interactions with animals, man-made viruses, viruses that just seem to pop out left and right. And I’m only talking about future pandemics in this situation.
I’m not thinking about climate change’s other drastic effects. I’m not thinking about warfare, especially the fact that a single nuclear attack from a superpower could end the planet. I’m not thinking about all the dumbasses in charge everywhere. Things have gotten so bad I’m not even ruling out things I would have called crazy 15 years ago, like an alien invasion or a meteor strike or an AI takeover. The Doomsday Clock is tik, tok, on the clock, and the party don’t stop, and you know what? If an evil robot Decepticon like Megatron showed up right now and wanted to conquer the planet, it’s really not looking so bad, and that’s nuts.
PS: I hate New Year’s!