Michael Bay Wastes No Time Making a Profit Off of the Pandemic


Erin Holve

Graphic made by Erin Holve

There are those times when you think, maybe the crazy conspiracy people aren’t completely wrong. It’s like the chance of getting bitten by a shark, 1 in 2.75 million, it’s extremely rare. 

A lot of the QAnon conspiracy theories center around the Hollywood elite and their depraved lifestyles. Normally when I hear this I roll my eyes and mumble something less than friendly. 

I still feel this way most of the time, but a few days back I saw an ad for a movie and thought, well maybe they’re not completely wrong. 

The movie ad was for “Songbird,” a film directed by Adam Mason and co-written with Simon Boyes. If both of these names don’t seem familiar, it’s because they aren’t Hollywood heavy hitters. Both men have done plenty of work on smaller productions and budgets. 

The heavy hitter behind this film is producer Michael Bay, the man behind outrageously big explosion action films where men are men and women are objectified. I didn’t have high hopes for this film from the get go, but then it got much worse.

“Songbird” begins in the year 2024, in which COVID-19 has mutated over the past four years into COVID-23. In the film those who live in the United States who are infected with the virus are taken from their homes against their will and forced into quarantine camps. These camps are called Q-Zones or are referred to as concentration camps. 

The writers and producers sat together and essentially said, “Everyone is panicking and we should make money off this fear, you want to throw in a reference to the Holocaust?” They went on to say, “Well we already looked at the climbing death rate of COVID-19 and thought writing this screenplay was a good idea, I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”

Right out of the gate we’re going with fear-mongering —my favorite. There are also some heavy undertones about government restrictions and mandates. Something that many people are already fearful of due to being asked to wear a mask. 

I understand that this is supposed to be a fun, thriller film so I shouldn’t take it so seriously. Honestly had they waited to film this movie, say in another year or two, I’d be fine with it. Still a little disgusted, but overall I could get over it.

The story centers around two lovers, Nico (portrayed by “Riverdale” star KJ Apa) and Sara (Sofia Carson). Nico is a motorbike courier, which I’m sure will help out with some intense exploding car scenes, who just so happens to have an immunity to the virus. 

Apparently he is immune due to being infected with COVID-19. Well, by this amazing Hollywood plot point, we should all go forth in society maskless in massive crowds so we can be prepared for the oncoming COVID-23. 

Nico’s girlfriend, Sara, is an artist who is in lockdown and prohibited from any physical contact. Sara starts to suspect her neighbors of being infected which over time leads her to believe she too is infected. This leads to the major plot point of the film which is Nico’s race across the empty streets of Los Angeles to save his beloved. 

The director Adam Mason told Entertainment Weekly, “It’s a dystopian, scary world, but it’s a romantic movie about two people who want to be together, but they can’t. It’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ but they’re separated by her front door and by the virus.”

In most cases I would consider this type concept for a film predictable and likely to be filled to the brim with well worn Hollywood tropes, but I find it more applicable to call it an exploitation film. They chose to wring the collective trauma of COVID-19 in order to make some quick cash. 

What bothers me even more than the premise of this film is the timeline in which it was thought of, developed and produced. Looking back at the timeline of COVID-19 we can see that in March the World Health Organization declared it is a pandemic and the U.S. started its travel ban. 

I’ll give the writers and producers a pass here, it’s early on and all of us are unsure of what’s happening. It makes sense for you to listen to the news and think, I could make a cool film out of this. 

When June rolled around and we saw one of our highest spikes of COVID-19 deaths in one day on June 25, principal production of the film was already in swing. They wrote the screenplay, hired the actors and began production of the film as death rates kept increasing.

I don’t know how to justify any of these actions. During the time my family and I were becoming increasingly worried for the life of my father, when many people were not able to be with their loved ones while they died and the medical staff were being worked to the bone — this film was being produced.

There are millions of American’s who are struggling to eat and pay rent because they have lost their jobs due to an unstable economy from this pandemic. I am even further baffled at the idea that not one of these actors had someone in their life that said, “Maybe don’t do a film roughly about a pandemic that is currently transpiring especially when you live a life of privilege compared to most Americans.” 

From start to finish of this film I see people with privilege choosing to ignore the plight of most Americans so they can have fun, make a profit and be relevant to society. Now to be fair I am basing all of this on the trailer to the film. 

Maybe this film will surprise me and I will have to retract the statements made within this article. I’m highly doubtful I will have to retract anything, but alas this criticism is not based on the entirety of ‘Songbird.’ 

Until it’s straight to video-on-demand release on Dec. 11, on which streaming platform has yet to be disclosed, I will stick to my guns that this is a fear-mongering exploitation film made in Hollywood in a desperate attempt to make money. For this one moment in time I am going to agree with the conspiracy theorists and say Hollywood has some depraved souls within it. 

Erin Holve can be reached at [email protected] and @Erin_Holve on Twitter.