Who's Telling Porkies? Pig Flu Is Hogwash


We have just come to the end of another Melbourne International Comedy Festival, one of the greatest celebrations of people who hate their jobs in the world, and once more it has illustrated the innate truth of the old saying: Laughter is the best medicine.

Oh sure, if you’re a dead Mexican you might say that Tamiflu is the best medicine, but a) our tracking software indicates only a very small minority of newmatilda.com‘s readers are dead Mexicans, and b) this only serves to better illustrate my point — maybe Mexicans wouldn’t be so upset about the swine flu if they had the opportunity to view uproarious cartoons such as this.

Ha ha ha! The pigs are flying! And they are also representative of various political issues. Now if that isn’t a surefire cure for the blues I don’t know what is. It just goes to prove the truth of that other old saying: No death toll is too high a price for comedy. Yes, the flu has killed a few people and struck fear into millions, but we must also consider the golden age of pig puns that has been thus spawned. In fact, one might say the world has gone hog-wild for pig puns. See? Even I’ve caught the fever! So to speak.

The point is, there is always a bright side. A silver lining can always be discerned in the most depressing of clouds. The swine flu is just the latest in a long line of terrors to descend upon us, but there is no point in dwelling on the negatives. If we do that, we’re no better than those moaning Melvins who keep on carping about the Nazis’ extermination of the Jews, without ever mentioning their invention of the Volkswagen. It’s always important to look on the bright side. The above example of swine flu humour illustrates this perfectly.

Of course, it’s hard to stay cheerful in the face of impending apocalypse; that’s why so few people laughed when Kathleen left Hi-5. In order to maintain our bright, sunny demeanours, it is important to stay informed and get prepared, because nobody laughs when they’re dead — as, according to recent estimates, over 90 per cent of the world’s population will be by the time the swine flu passes.

So first things first: just what IS swine flu? Swine flu is a virus, similar to ordinary flu, except 100 times more deadly and able to be transmitted through breathing, touching, kissing, punching and sometimes email. Although it has become popularly known as "swine flu", the virus is actually caused by foreigners, specifically Mexicans (the "Afghans of North America"), so it’s important, if you’ve recently had any contact with Mexicans or otherwise greasy overseas types, to take a nice long shower and report them to the Immigration Department.

Of course, swine flu does contain certain traces of pig viruses, as well as human and bird flus, demonstrating that foreigners do indeed like to sleep with animals, as noted in our Constitution. Normally, there’s nothing wrong with pig viruses in themselves; they help keep the rampant pig population in check, and nothing’s more adorable than a sneezing piglet. The problem arises when a virus develops the ability to leap from animals to humans, which when you think abou it is really a pretty terrifying thing.

I mean, you don’t think about viruses as things that leap. You would think if we had one advantage over viruses, it would be athleticism. Also, I just learned that the flu virus has a spike to penetrate our cells with. A spike! Like a rhino! Or a triceratops! How does a virus get that? Let’s hope they don’t develop musculature, or the ability to use small arms, or we’re really screwed. Not that we aren’t already, of course.

So, bearing in mind that we could at any moment be killed by these be-spiked micro-gymnasts, what can we do to protect ourselves? Besides avoiding foreigners, which we most likely were doing anyway?

Let’s look to Kevin Rudd for advice. "Wash your hands," he says, thus putting the final stamp on himself as a complete waste of space. Wash our hands! Thanks, mum. That’s really going to set the virus quivering, isn’t it? "Oh, no!" I can hear the swine flu squeaking in its menacing Hispanic accent, "this guy smells faintly of soap! Better retract my spike and scuttle back to El orzuelo de cerdo without delay!" For God’s sake. If you were sinking in quicksand Rudd would probably advise you to have clean underwear. It’s no wonder almost a third of Australians want him out.

No, if you really want to protect yourself from swine flu, you need more robust solutions. Wearing masks, for example. Many people are buying surgical masks to protect themselves from the virus, but this seems a little naïve. A full-face welder’s helmet would seem more in order, or if you can afford one, a head-to-toe Hazmat suit. You can’t be too careful.

Also, you should avoid going to places where there could be large crowds of people, like shopping centres or sporting events or your front garden. The best thing you can do is stay in your home, preferably in a darkened room with your back to the wall and an assault rifle trained on the door.

Finally, you should stockpile as much prescription medication as you possibly can. If this is anti-flu medication, all the better, but even if it isn’t, it will come in useful, to trade with drug addicts for food in the inevitable post-apocalyptic wasteland that will follow swine flu’s devastating sweep across our country. It could also be helpful for sedating zombies.

If we follow these simple guidelines, we will be able to relax and enjoy the pandemic, appreciating its good aspects. The first, as noted, is the vast potential for humour to arise from the disease. But there are others.

Think about the world. It is generally agreed that it is vastly overpopulated, that our resources cannot support us for much longer, and that the proliferation of the human race has precipitated an ever-accelerating avalanche of environmental degradation that spells doom for us all. Given this, the occasional pandemic is no bad thing. In fact, were I a religious man, I would be asking the lord just what took him so damn long. We’re pretty well overdue for a nice bracing plague, and the news that swine flu is here to wipe nearly all of us from the face of the earth should be a blessed relief for any truly selfless person.

Next, look at the reality "on the ground". Our best information has it that swine flu is mainly dangerous to the very young, and the elderly. And just which two groups cause the most trouble in our society? Who is it we complain about the most? Crying babies and old men in hats driving Volvos. Thank providence swine flu is here to rid us of our irritants. Admit it: if you were asked to posit a utopia, it would be a world in which all the snot-nosed little brats and musty-smelling, hairy-eared old cranks had disappeared.

And then of course there is the matter of certainty. Today it is so hard to tell just where the next threat is coming from. Are we going to be baked by relentless global warming, or drowned by rising seas? Are we going to starve to death on the streets at the cruel hands of global economic forces? Are we going to be bombed by North Korea? The gnawing uncertainty of just which horrible threat is about to crush us furrows our brows, raises our blood pressure and gives us ulcers. Isn’t it a relief when something like swine flu comes along, and suddenly we can all breathe again, as we sit back, relax, and sigh happily to ourselves, "Yes … I am going to die coughing and sneezing like a common pig."

And in today’s world, isn’t the warm reassurance of a speedy and predictable death the best any of us can hope for?

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.