Hollywood Predicts Martial Law in the Event of Ebola Outbreak

The movie Outbreak begins in 1967, there's a war in Zaire but the real killer is some disease that's taking down a large number of soldiers. The local African doctor receives two American experts on infectious diseases. One of them says, "this is worse than we thought," and then begins extracting blood from one of the infected while ominous music is heard. Then they promise the doctor that they'll come back with a plane, but it was a lie and they blow up the whole village instead.

Fast forward to the future -- 1995 -- and Dustin Hoffman is sent to investigate an outbreak of a similar disease in Africa. Kevin Spacey is an expert who tags along with Hoffman, and together they tell rookie Cuba Gooding Jr. what to expect when they land in Zaire. But Cuba ain't no dummy, he also knows that an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever causes diarrhea and horrible bleeding from body orifices and liquefaction of internal organs. Cuba tells them he's ready and that he can handle it.

As soon as they arrive in the village in Zaire, Cuba starts poking around inside of
a tent, turns over a mosquito net and finds two dead parents and a crying, bloody child -- all three appear to be decaying. Cuba panics and starts throwing up inside of his suit, then deciding to take off his helmet as Kevin and Dustin freak out. Cuba takes off his helmet and Dustin screams, "put him in quarantine," but right then and there an African doctor with a deep voice comes in and tells them that the virus is not airborne. 

Then Dustin and the African doctor go for a walk and Dustin notices a shaman on top of a hill chanting and shaking a staff at the sky. Dustin says, "he's not sick, I wanna talk to him," but the African doctor says, "No, he talks to me. He believes that the gods were awoken from their sleep by the men cutting down the trees where no man should be and the gods got angry. This... is a punishment!" Then ominous music starts and the screen fades to fire and brimstone.

Colonel Dustin & co. leave Zaire, and he heads
directly to his boss, One-Star General Morgan Freeman, telling him that they need to set up checks at airports and send him back so he can further study the disease. General Freeman tells him to call down, that he's been wrong before, and then chastises him for showing up a party full of important people while smelling like dirty socks.

Some screen time is then devoted to Dustin's marital problems -- his ex-wife is also an expert on dangerous viruses -- before cutting to Morgan talking with a two-star general. Morgan tells him that Dustin is sniffing around behind his back, and then the higher-ranking general tells Morgan in a non-emotive voice: "Then we'll kill him."

They deduce that the disease is the same one they covered up with an explosion in '67, and the two-star general tells Morgan to keep Dustin from sniffing around. The two-star general says, "we wiped out a whole camp to keep this bug secret. Shelve it! You know about this, I know about this. Nobody else. Keep your nosy little friend out of this, I don't want him messing up thirty years of our work... it's the god-dammed sentimentalists that's the damn trouble with this country."

The scene ends, and Dustin barges into Morgan's office. Dustin is like, "we don't know anything about this disease, I need to go back." But Morgan tells him that he has to go to New Mexico to investigate another disease. Dustin tells him to send another team, but General Freeman screams: "Don't tell me who to send on an assignment, Colonel!"

Things start going horribly bad after that. A dude working in a lab decides to steal a monkey so he can sell it to a pet shop. The monkey is in the back of his car, drinking water from a baby bottle, and then squirts water into the lab dude's mouth. 

He spits out the water and brushes it off. Then at the pet shop, the pet store owner is trying to determine the sex of the monkey, but it's the wrong sex, and he's not buying it. The monkey scratches his arm, proving to him what a bad deal it would be to buy it. 

Things don't get any better, as the movie then goes to a dude in a lab listening to sports on the radio while he puts blood vials in a centrifuge. The centrifuging while radioing proves to be too much distraction and he puts his hand in the centrifuge, causing it to spill blood all over his face.

Worse, the lab dude who stole the monkey decides to let it out into a forest, and then gets on a plane. He lands in another city, and while kissing his girlfriend collapses right there in the airport. Soon thereafter, Dustin's ex-wife is walking around the CDC and hears about two strange cases of a hemorrhagic fever in Boston. She stops, dramatic music plays, and she says, "get me on a plane to Boston!"

Things start getting way worse, and next thing the audience knows an entire town is afflicted by the mysterious illness, which mutates into an airborne strain and spreads in a movie theater.

Martial law is declared and the entire town is quarantined. Soldiers in camo surround the town in barbed wire, and before we know it, a group of people are trying to escape the quarantine zone in their pick-up trucks. A helicopter guns down one of the vehicles, and then we see the driver in the other vehicle hold his young daughters, letting us know that the situation is more serious than we can imagine.

Dustin manages to convince a lower-ranking officer to put him on a 3am plane to Cedar Creek -- against orders -- and he's working there before anyone else arrives.

When IV bags with a mysterious liquid called E-1101 start arriving, Dustin and Cuba decide to study it and quickly deduce that the military has been lying to them, that the disease was a bioweapon that the US government wanted to keep secret. E-1101 doesn't work against the new mutation of the virus that causes it to go airborne, sadly.

The white residents of small town America in 1995 are just as willing to face down a militarized force as the residents of Ferguson in 2014. The fear then is made clear that the residents may overrun a group of soldiers.
To drive into the audience that this can happen to any American, we see a group of soldiers in not-very-protective equipment take a young mother out of her home, away from her kids, and into a humvee. She waves goodbye to them from her white-picket fence, proving how no American is immune from the evil of Motaba virus.

The situation doesn't improve for the people of the town, as that two-star general starts suggesting that they wipe out Cedar Creek with the next-best thing to a nuclear bomb in order to prevent the virus from destroying the United States within 48 hours.

Some dude who appears to work for the president then says, "the president is getting back from the E. Asia Economic Summit in 20 hours, now you wanna firebomb the town of Cedar Creek, California population 2,600 with something called a fuel air bomb, the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in our arsenal; the way it works, it explodes, sucks in all available oxygen to the core, vaporizes everything within a mile of ground zero: men, women, children, and one airborne virus. Destruction complete. Case closed. Crisis over." 

Then he pulls a copy of the Constitution from his back-right pocket, which he conveniently always carries, and slams it on the table: "I don't find anything in it that says anything about vaporizing 2,600 American citizens." The Constitution gives US citizens due process, he says. Then he tells the people around the table that he wants 100% unwavering support for the President, regardless of what decision he makes. He then slams photos of the residents of Cedar Creek on the table, and says: "These are not statistics, ladies and gentlemen... Those images should hunt us 'till the day we die!"

A conversation between Morgan Freeman and the higher-ranking general then starts the climax in the film, as it becomes clear that Operation Clean Sweep will result in the annihilation of Cedar Creek. "Those people are casualties of war, I'd give them all a medal if I could," says the two-star general. 

More military shenanigans ensue and Kevin Spacey and Dustin's ex get infected. The situation is serious, and then Dustin learns that the monkey responsible for the virus is out loose in a forest. In Hollywood logic, finding that monkey is the key to creating an antivirus and preventing the generals from vaporizing the town. The whole fate of 2,600 people and Dustin's ex then comes down to Cuba Gooding Jr. using a little girl as bait to shoot a monkey with a dart. 

Photos: Courtesy of Punch Productions/Warner Bros.