“America is America because we overcome adversity and challenges. It is what makes us great.”—Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Let’s face it. This may not be the most opportune time to catch up on documentaries and feature films about killer viruses, natural disasters and alien invasions. The COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) pandemic has become the world’s worst nightmare in real time. And now, as the virus spreads across America, the ramifications are frightening because we’re late to the game and medically unprepared for the numbers of critically ill Americans who may need care.
As news reports of the devastation ravaging Italy and the rest of Europe reach our shores, we can’t afford to look away. At the end of this piece, I do recommend a number of “feel-good” films and TV programs to watch during our national quarantine that may help lift your spirits. But first, I need to applaud two men who have grabbed the national media spotlight in a good way during this crisis.
Never, in recent memory, has the adage “Knowledge is Power” been more important. And for that to work, we look to our leaders in government and the medical community to do everything in their power to stem the tide of this scourge and protect and support those in the trenches whose job it is to heal us. Our leaders, if they are capable of exhibiting real leadership, must also clearly, accurately and on a daily basis communicate to American citizens the facts…updated statistics, medical directives and lifestyle restrictions…impacting us, as a nation and our local communities.
Knowledge is power, and when responsibly communicated by leaders via the media, it is balm for fears fanned by unfounded rumors, hunches and fake news spread by irresponsible hotheads, hucksters, and foreign operatives on Facebook and Twitter.
Knowledge gives us a feeling of security in the midst of chaos. We can breathe a bit easier knowing that our leaders care and are nonpartisan problem solvers who are doing what they were elected, educated and hired to do…serve their constituency and their patients.
Sadly, although there are no FDRs, Winston Churchills or JFKs on the national or international horizon to calm our psyches at this writing, two New York Italian Americans deserve kudoes for their outstanding daily media communiques: Andrew M. Cuomo, the governor of New York, a State currently with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide; and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
No-nonsense Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of NIAID since 1984, keeps the White House press briefings on track with medical updates and best and worst case scenarios. He doesn’t deal in hunches, partisan politics or verbal jousting. He artfully treats President Trump respectfully, as well as the journalists in the briefing room who are there, despite threats to their own well being, to accurately talk the talk and walk the walk for all Americans. If Dr. Fauci is set to appear on any talk or news show, I make sure to tune in. His boundless energy, clear thinking and articulate interviews continue round-the-clock to the point where I’m starting to worry about his own well-being. Where would we be without Dr. Fauci manning the charge and keeping us informed?
The same goes for New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Never known for being a passionate, powerhouse communicator, Governor Cumo has stepped up to the plate and delivers. His empathetic, measured delivery works wonders during daily briefings to his statewide constituents, the press and those of us in the tri-State area lucky enough to catch him midday on broadcast TV or cable.
Governor Cuomo updates all aspects of the coronavirus–testing and treatment sites and availability, medical equipment and statewide restrictions–as they relate to New Yorkers. He seamlessly balances these daily stat reports with candid reality checks and admonitions peppered with extemporaneous personal reflections and anecdotes about his family, the “pain of isolation,” and the call for collective selflessness. His message is universal: “We are all in this together.” He is riveting and reassuring; and despite the fact that I live in New Jersey, I will continue to watch him for as long as this nightmare unfolds.
If my current personal Rock Stars, Anthony Fauci and Andrew Cuomo, don’t float your boat, you have many other film and TV/cable options to lift your spirits. Looking for laughs? Re-watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”; “Horrible Bosses”; “DodgeBall”; “Clueless”; “Wedding Crashers”; “There’s Something about Mary”; “Bridesmaids”; and anything produced and directed by Mel Brooks or Wes Anderson. Catch up with NBC’s current reboot of “Will & Grace”; reruns of “The Big Bang Theory”; “I Love Lucy”; “The Office”; “Cheers” or “Frasier.” Sit back and enjoy “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons” and “Maude,” or anything else produced by Norman Lear.
Looking for feel-good films? Revisit “It’s a Wonderful Life” or almost anything else starring Jimmy Stewart; “Big” and “Forrest Gump” or almost everything else starring Tom Hanks …or featuring his latest incarnation: Fred Rogers. Check out “Nine to Five” and “Moonstruck”; “WALL-E” and “UP”; “Norma Rae”and inspirational sports films like “Field of Dreams”; “Chariots of Fire”; and “Hoosiers.” And don’t forget animal-centric dramas, docs or animation like “March of the Penguins”; “The Lion King”; “Babe”; and absolutely anything starring Kermit the Frog! The list is endless!
Remember time is a precious commodity! It’s definitely time to be kind to yourself and others… and be well. –Judith Trojan