Thursday, December 3, 2020

Totally Under Control

Totally Under Control is an indictment of President Donald Trump and the national mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's both a chilling and enraging experience to have the months of inaction, series of missteps, casual disinterest, politicization of a health crisis, and frightening ineptitude chronicled with such precision. Interviewing medical professionals, scientists, and whistleblowers from within the CDC to Jared Kushner's volunteers, Totally Under Control highlights the many, many places where the United States went wrong in its policies towards COVID while comparing them to South Korea's far more aggressive early measures which avoided the large death tolls continuing to rise in the United States.

One idea shared by directors Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger is that every health crisis could have been handled better. However, the staggering failure of the United States with COVID runs the gamut from a President not willing to hear the truth, experts fired for telling the truth, and policies put in place making it harder to get life saving masks and drugs to medical professionals until Trump was able to personally profit.

While some of the mishandling of COVID by the Trump and the CDC are honest errors, such as the early test which increasingly recorded false positives, the lack of decisive leadership to step in and fix these situations (rather than taking trips to play golf) allowed the virus to continue to spread across the nation. Highlighting all the moments where leadership could have stepped in and avoided the current crisis, while politicizing a health issue leading to half a country not taking a pandemic seriously, is maddening. Those most likely to learn something from the documentary are also those most likely to ignore it completely as it doesn't fit in with a twisted world view they have claimed as truth. The test of watching Totally Under Control isn't whether it will make you outraged and heartbroken but how long you can watch without screaming.

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