I’ve seen Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe. A film yanked off the schedule at the Tribeca Film Festival. Much maligned and the people maligning it hadn’t even seen it. Snatched up by the Angelika Film Center in New York City.
Enter me, ticket in hand for the 1:15 showing on its first day. Producer Del Bigtree is standing outside the theatre answering questions as I head in to settle into a seat. I recognize him from a recent interview he did. At two points in an hour and a half I have to focus on not letting the tears welling up in my eyes spill and escalate into a sob.
The upshot? Blazing anger. Here’s what I’m done with.
I’m done apologizing or hedging when I talk about the potential link between vaccines and autism.
I’m done with engaging anyone in a serious conversation on this topic who hasn’t read more than a few articles in a mainstream publication. You want to keep recycling the same old tired “facts” on this? Have at it. Have a party with your fabulous self.
You want to look at me with that glazed over, head tilted to the side posture when I talk about this for real? That oh-poor-deluded-Nancy look? I’ll stop mid-sentence and move on to another topic. Your issue, not mine. Keep your tunnel vision. I’m done.
I’m done with know-it-alls who roll their eyes and write me off as a science denier or a person who practices willful ignorance. I know what a peer-reviewed study is. I know all about how Dr. Andrew Wakefield was stripped of his license. I’m armed with information, thank you.
I’m done discussing this with people who think I either agree with them or else I’m an anti-vaxxer. Or those who believe the people associated with the Vaxxed film are anti-vaxxers. Or those who keep writing headlines and willy-nilly using the term anti-vaxxer as a “title” or “modifier” to describe this film or the people in it when it is flat-out not true.
I’m done with talking about it to anyone who brings up iron lungs and the return of polio since none of this has anything to do with the polio vaccine and never did. Diversionary tactics, anyone?
I’m done with getting into a debate with people who completely discount the many, many stories parents tell where a child goes from hitting all his markers, talking, walking, animated, lit up, to limp, disengaged, regressive on the goddamned day he had his MMR shot. Casting aside the feelings and observations of distraught parents who simply state that this happened? It happened. Why in holy hell would they make it up? Is it because they want to hear a high-pitched squeal coming from their previously healthy child, a noise so piercing and jarring they now can’t take him out in public?
I’m done with the cruel tone I’ve seen in countless articles, the nasty comments that follow them, and the sarcastic Facebook posts from parents of healthy kids who are petrified and puffed up in their superiority and mean-spiritedness toward other parents whose only “crime” is a whole different brand of fear born of a life-altering event they’re being told didn’t happen the way they saw it.
I’m done having this conversation with people whose anger is misdirected at parents who don’t know which end is up because they’re too busy changing their 8-year-old’s diapers or wondering why he’s banging his head repeatedly into a wall when in fact there are real culprits who should be on the receiving end of our rage.
Producer Del Bigtree — credible. Dr. Brian S. Hooker – credible. Dr. Jim Sears — credible. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whistleblower Dr. William Thompson — credible. Dr. Andrew Wakefield — yes, credible. All of them pro-children, pro-vaccine, pro SAFE vaccine. Done with explaining any of it to those shut down on the topic.
Data thrown in the trash. Study numbers shrunk and fudged. The better outcomes for children who have the MMR shot after age three instead of at the CDC-mandated 12-18 months – hidden. The very body we’re supposed to trust hiding something, so obvious when watching its director squirm and evade before Congress. Done.
Suddenly I’m comfortable with thumbing my nose at those who choose to stay closed to the possibility that we’ve been lied to, that a man whose name is on a CDC study is having a crisis of conscience, that the very idea that Merck or any other vaccine company could choose money over public health is laughable. Yeah, doing the right thing for public health always wins out over money. Just ask the citizens of Flint. And keep watching your TV programs where the drug commercials list two dozen side effects worse than the condition they’re supposed to help. Do we really not believe that comes with consequences?
What did this movie do for me? It released me from thinking that I have to justify my healthy questioning to people who don’t know nearly as much as I do on this topic.
Robert De Niro did us a favor in the end. This film would have gotten lost at the Tribeca Film Festival. Now it will get traction. It will hold feet to the fire. It will spur discussion and action.
Go see it. Don’t go see it. Whatever. But if you choose the latter option, keep your ignorant opinion to yourself.
‘Cause arguing with the likes of you? Yeah — I’m done.