Anti-Vaxxers Using ‘I Am Legend’ Movie Against Covid-19 Vaccines

The 2007 movie I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, was a fictional movie. It was not a documentary. The movie may have not had a disclaimer at the beginning of it, just like the movie Shrek didn’t warn people that Shrek was not real. However, the assumption was that people would not be treating the movie like a science class.

Apparently, though, the fact that the movie was fictional is not preventing people on social media from claiming that I Am Legend is a reason to not to get the Covid-19 vaccine. It’s also not preventing others from listening to such claims.

The assertion is that in the movie, again a fictional movie, a vaccine started the zombie apocalypse that subsequently wiped out a lot of humanity. Therefore, you, assuming that you follow what fictional movies may tell you, should not get the Covid-19 vaccine. After all, who would want to become a flesh-eating zombie? It could make it even more difficult to get a job or a date and cause other folks to mute you on Zoom.

There’s one big problem with this assertion, though. I Am Legend is a fictional movie, meaning it didn’t freaking happen. The movie is based loosely on a novel written back in the 1950’s by Richard Matheson. The main character Robert Neville was not a real person. He was played by an actor named Will Smith, you know, the guy who got jiggy with it.

Actually, there are two big problem with the assertion. As Vera Bergengruen, a Washington correspondent for Time, pointed out in the following tweet, it wasn’t even a vaccine that zombified society in I Am Legend:

Instead, it was a genetically-altered measles virus that caused problems in the movie, the fictional movie. Come on, people. That’s sloppy conspiracy theory-spreading work. If you are going to spread a conspiracy theory based on a movie, at least get the plot of the movie correct.

Oh, and there’s a third problem. The movie was set in 2012, not 2021. So, if the events of I Am Legend had really happened, you might have missed the zombie apocalypse. Maybe that line at Starbucks nine years ago was longer than you thought? Maybe that diarrhea that you suffered from pounding raw cake batter made you miss all the apocalyptic chaos that was going on outside.

Nevertheless, quality-control doesn’t seem to be a concern in the deep, dark recesses of social media, as Bergengruen found out:

If you are still wondering, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that getting vaccinated will turn you into a zombie. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website does list possible side effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccines. Turning into a flesh eating zombie is not one of them, although you may have some chills and a headache.

Using I Am Legend to guide your health-related decision making would be like combing the Pacific Ocean searching for Gilligan and Mary Ann or trying to get sucked into a video game so that you can meet Ruby Roundhouse from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. If you are using such a movie for medical advice, “legend” may not be the right next word for you when you begin with the words “I am.” Maybe, “I am” should be followed by “going to get help now”:

While it is, in general, a good idea to understand other people’s perspectives, some have pointed out that there are limits:

Not exactly American exponentialism at work. Oh, and by the way, I am Legend was trending on Twitter today:

So here we are folks in 2021. The zombie apocalypse that the movie I am Legend portrayed didn’t really happen in 2012. Masses of people didn’t really lose their senses and judgment last decade. They didn’t become a bunch of mindless creatures that relentlessly pursue nothing but flesh. Or did they?

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