By Stephen Ericson
Last night I was able to attend a screening of Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, the now famous documentary that was wrongfully kicked out of the Tribeca film festival for reasons not yet completely understood. The writers, producers, stars if you will, of the movie did a quick Q&A following the screening and I have to say that when the four of them walked out after the screening,
(Andrew Wakefield, writer, Del Bigtree, producer, Polly Tommy, star, and Brian Hooker, star), I got a real sense that I was witnessing history in the making.
I think the primary reason that I felt this, is that for anyone following the Andrew Wakefield saga who has anything resembling an objective, if not sympathetic ear for information, its been rough going. The fog of war. Finding a detailed and yet digestible account of his trials and tribulations has been chaotic, hit or miss, partially due to the fact that as the story continued to unfold, actual information and misinformation seemed to intermingle to the point of incoherence.
The story takes a lot of twists and turns, and for every accusation there’s an answer, for every crime there’s a dodge, for every false label handed down from without, there’s clarity from within. For me, and I suspect for others like me who have remained interested in the details but who also have other interests and responsibilities to take care of (for many, I’m assuming, an autistic child) staying abreast of the minutia involved is tantamount to a full time job in of itself.
We live in an age of an age of misinformation; the internet is rife with conspiracy theories that are as alarming as they are difficult to believe. That said, the opposition to Andrew Wakefield has been simply titanic– as dense as the singularity that’s said to exist at the center of a black hole. A poignant example of that extreme density: The New York Times ran a review of the movie with the headline “Anti-Vaccine Film, Pulled From Tribeca Film Festival, Draws Crowd at Showing.”
Andrew Wakefield, the films writer and partial subject matter says explicitly in the film, make absolutely NO MISTAKE, HEAR THIS WELL, to use a borrowed phrase…he’s “not anti vaccine.” He’s a doctor. He believes in vaccines. He clearly says, and his reporting has always maintained that he believes that the MMR vaccine is dangerous and rather than combining those three vaccines into one one dose, they should be given as single shots.
For the reading impaired, for those who suffer some sort of cognitive dissonance, please, before you utter the phrase ‘anti vaxx’ one more time, re- read that last line. ANDREW WAKEFIELD IS NOT ANTI VACCINES. No he isn’t. Please…stop saying that. So, that said, therein lies the historical moment I referred to earlier. From here on out, anyone who calls him or the film ‘anti vaccine’ is admitting that they lack sufficient mental acumen to have digested the film. If you can’t get it, if it’s too much for you, and I’m talking to a good deal of the press here, have someone who’s…smarter than you explain it, or admit that you’re a hack ‘writer’, and hang your head in shame. Forever. The jig is up. You can’t say that and continue to be taken seriously any longer.
The film begins with Brian Williams’ face large upon the screen, going on about the measles outbreak that supposedly began at Disneyland in 2014. I had the pleasure of saying to Del Bigtree that I thought he was an apt choice, due to Williams’ noted difficulties with the truth. I don’t blame the talking heads though, smarter people than they quickly form a montage following Williams reading from the prompter, flowing through Sanjay Gupta, and culminating with President Obama advising people to continue vaccinating their children. I thought that starting with the media complex and it’s “dealing” with the issue was powerful. The subject matter is multifaceted to be sure, but one thing that’s perfectly clear: The media has failed to accurately portray the issue. They issue bland propaganda, telling us only what is “not” happening, namely, vaccines are not causing braun damage. (“autism.”)
It’s difficult for me to review this movie objectively, I’ll admit that. My reasoning however isn’t merely due to my proximity to the subject matter; who doesn’t harbor animosity toward someone who’s one sided relationship to a sticky subject ends up dominating public opinion?
Simply reading the review that I mentioned earlier, that appeared in the New York Times, will show all of the usual twist and turns, the weaves and dodges that they employ to avoid the subject matter as much as they can.
From the opening salvo …“A roiling controversy over the truthfulness and intent of a documentary about the widely debunked link between vaccines and autism did not keep theatergoers away from its premiere on Friday”, immediately they establish a tone of dismissiveness. The phrase ’widely debunked” is unmistakable. However, the title of the film includes the word “Cover-up”. So, one would think that they’d address that cover-up, being that it’s simply and unmistakably the subject of the movie. But for the rest of the review they hardly touch upon the idea of there being a cover up, let alone a cover up that makes Watergate look like a stolen cookie. In fact, it dwarfs even all the Clinton scandals bundled together. It eclipses any and all American “coverup” you have ever heard of. And that may be the film’s greatest challenge. Who can believe it?
The film presents what seems to be solid evidence of that cover up. The film implores the audience to address that and to take action to sort the whole mess out through the only means available to us: by contacting our representatives in government. That facet of the movie then, is really quite simple. There’s not much more to it than that, and to ignore that is a tacit acknowledgement of the media’s being complicit in that cover up.
There’s more to the story though: Polly Tommy, the mother of an autistic child, has her story presented in all of it’s heart wrenching and heroic detail. She and her husband’s decision to start a magazine and organize a community, and the reaction to her endeavors are a heartening reminder of the strength of the human spirit. A vast number of other families are shown, and only the truly heartless will remain unmoved.
But, that’s not the point of the movie. Wakefield and Bigtree don’t rely on emotion for the sake of making their point. They show those emotional stories because they’re really what’s at the heart of the controversy. When Abby Haglage writing for the Daily Beast says, for example “Leaving a room at the near-empty Angelika Theater in SoHo… It was a sad opening for any film, much less one that—just four days earlier—was slated to premiere at The Tribeca Film Festival”, she’s clearly not being objective, (the screening that I went to was completely sold out, and as shown above, the New York Times seems to agree with me in that regard) she’s being dismissive for the sake of being dismissive.
She goes on to slam the film in predictable ways, and writes the whole review, omitting mention of the film’s core subject, namely Dr. Whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson. We are walked though every single step of how Dr. Thomson, somewhat willingly and somewhat not, came to confess to partaking and being complicit in the crime of the century. The film’s hero–PhD scientist Brian Hooker, father of an autistic son, follows the breadcrumb path laid out by Thompson, leading to his discovery of the extremely damning revelations. The CDC concealed, cooked, and finally destroyed, the data that would have forced them to concede that MMR vaccine given at too young an age, does increase the risk of autism by an enormous margin. This is a white-knuckle ride–a tour de force of investigative journalism. And it ends in a brick wall fizzle. You know what the brick wall is?
Like I said earlier, perhaps Abby Haglage is just not smart enough to understand what the movie is actually trying to say, so I’ll spell it out for her one more time:
The makers of the film want us, the viewing audience, to write to our congressmen and representatives so that we can get them to subpoena Dr. William Thompson to testify before congress about his role in a cover up the he partook in at the Centers for Disease Control, regarding the safety of the MMR vaccine. Ok Abby? I’m sorry that you missed that, I hope it’s clear to you now. Here, if you’re interested in simply putting the subject to rest, like you claim to be, I’ve included a Change.org petition urging just that.
To Abby and the rest of the media who are busy slamming this film for being misleading while at the same time not even mentioning the name Dr. William Thompson, CDC whistle blower: HE is what this movie is about. If you fail to mention that, you are a propagandist.
For everyone else, not sipping Statist Kool-Aid– go see it. Whatever you have to do to see it, make sure you see this documentary film, which is a feat of investigative reporting that demolishes the myth of a safe and ordered government “health” complex.