"Don't be a fucking idiot" was the big takeaway John Oliver tried to stress on Sunday's episode "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," who ditched his usual format to devote an entire episode to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak currently setting the world on edge.
The format of "Last Week Tonight" typically goes: News rundown, then big feature segment. This week, he went right in on the epidemic. Highlights:
- Penny-ante cable TV con-people selling gullible audiences silver supplements that would perhaps help kill a werewolf, but certainly not coronavirus.
- A maxi-pad, used by someone as a makeshift facemask (don't).
- Likening Trump's response to the coronavirus crisis to his preternatural talent for and breadth of experience as a father particularly skilled in absenteeism.
- A Vietnamese PSA involving a song about coronavirus safety that "absolutely slaps" — and which is a growing TikTok hit.
- Various instances of dog-whistle racism and just straight-up-unfiltered-racism and xenophobia being exacerbated by COVID-19.
But mostly, Oliver advised audiences to take COVID-19 seriously — more seriously that certain world leaders. His perspective is well-considered, and worth passing around to everyone you know: Mind this. Take reasonable precautions. Don't go licking subway poles. But also: Don't panic. Don't drink bleach. Don't horde surgical masks or respirators unless you're a caretaker of someone who's sick, or a medical professional. Do wash your hands, often.
And do have the sensibility to not let fear of foreign cultures — or others, generally — drive you to rash decisions that may feel practical, but that will result in being an asshole with a false sense of security. Ultimately, it'll take attention away from doing the things you should be doing — unlike, say, as has been absurdly suggested: not eating Chinese food, as opposed to, again, washing your hands regularly and often.
The entire thing is sobering, and comforting, the way the right kind of news about something so serious as COVID-19 should be: Treating its viewers as sentient adults capable of handling (and in need of having) the truth about this issue, without resorting to breathless panic or unfettered alarmism. Everyone — truly, everyone — stands to benefit from watching the entire segment. If only to understand what this is all about:
You can see the entire thing yourself, right here:
And one last thing? Yes: An absolute slap. A certified banger. A lituation of fire:
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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) [YouTube]
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