If you’ve never seen the Planet of the Apes movie series, then this post will spoil a whole lot of things.
In the original 1968 movie, Charlton Heston’s character, George Taylor, arrives on a planet where humans are mute and have developed to be no more than animalistic creatures. A far cry from the human civilization that Taylor is from, where humans were able to build spacecraft to get him to this far away planet. Of course, the apes are the intelligent species on this planet, capable of speech, critical thinking, and forming a complex society.
The famous twist ending to this movie is that Taylor has not actually ventured light years away from Earth, but instead has arrived at Earth in the distant future. Human civilization has collapsed, humans have become almost feral, and the apes now rule the planet. It’s never really explained in the original set of the movies how humans de-evolved into this lesser state.
The 21st century reboot of the movies series explores the origins of the intelligent apes in great detail. It is a lab-made virus that has unforeseen consequences that makes the apes intelligent but it is also the same virus that kills humans worldwide. In the third movie of the reboot series, we discover that the virus has mutated and renders humans mute and massively decreases their cognitive abilities. We finally get an explanation of how humans become mute and essentially too stupid to maintain any semblance of a complex society and civilization.
Ah, isn’t fiction so wonderful to take in and be entertained by? I will point out something in reality however. The coronavirus that has plunged the world into a pandemic often leaves people with a long-term condition colloquially called “brain fog“. The infection leaves people with the inability to concentrate and also plagued by memory problems. Tasks that require high-level cognitive ability become almost impossible. For a lack of a better term, people become “dumb”. Does this sound familiar?
While I don’t think this pandemic will lead to the entire human race becoming mute and feral creatures, the number of people experiencing “brain fog” from COVID-19 is statistically significant. Some of these cases resolve themselves in a few months but others are still dealing with effects with no end in sight. You have to wonder, who is being sidelined right now by “brain fog”? Was there a scientist who was likely a few months away from discovering a cure to a disease who instead got sick and now has “brain fog” and is unable to continue her research? How many more people need to get ill before statistically we’re able to measure a drop in IQ across the board? It’s scary to think about but you don’t really have to envision some fantastical Hollywood story for this to be a reality.
Oh, by the way, the ending to the Mark Wahlberg movie never made any sense. It was stupid.