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Ebola Goes Pop: The Filovirus from Literature into Film

Semmler examines Virus and Outbreak, two contemporary films about the Ebola virus. The essay carefully establishes the connections between the films and Robin Cook's novel Outbreak and Richard Preston's nonfictional book The Hot Zone. Semmler's essay looks at food, war, and jungle imagery in the two movies as a way to begin questioning the scientific accuracy of the films and to help establish her argument that the virus has taken the place of the nuclear bomb as a threat of destruction. The readings of the movies allow Semmler to suggest some of the ethical ramifications of the role of Western capitalism and Western medicine in these outbreaks of viral fever.