Fact Check: Anti-Vaxxers cite 'I am Legend' to skip vaccine doses, forget film was about virus

Fact Check: Anti-Vaxxers cite 'I am Legend' to skip vaccine doses, forget film was about virus
Will Smith in a still from 'I Am Legend' (IMDb)

Will Smith's association with the majority of 2020 might have been the 'entanglement with August' memes. But the actor has also had to apologise for the fair share of misinformation that anti-vaxxers have spread citing his iconic movie 'I Am Legend'. The zombie apocalypse drama's plot has been highly cited as a reasonable excuse to avoid the jab by anti-vaxxers who claim the zombie disease in the film's plot began spreading through the vaccine formulated to curb it. But busting these baseless claims are the Internet's fact-checkers who would like to remind people that the superspreader in the movie was a "genetically reprogrammed virus," not the vaccine. 

The spate of anti-vaxxers dubbing the vaccine dangerous has seen a spike this year as more and more places relax their pandemic regulations, with some businesses allowing only fully vaccinated people access, while others are still insisting on the mask mandate. News of anti-vaxxers have seen the likes of viral TikTok videos where parents offer to pay their children to not get Covid-19 vaccine, claiming it could kill them. Some 22 percent Americans consider themselves anti-vaxxers, and that includes the likes of Arkansas nurse Shanda Parish, who said she didn't trust the vaccine due to its novelty, even though her parents died of the virus within days of each other. 


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Will Smith with his lone companion in the survival zombie apocalypse drama 'I Am Legend' (IMDb)

So, with the fight against the Covid-19 vaccine often appearing more passionate than the collective fight against the coronavirus, it doesn't come as a shock that the spread of misinformation regarding the vaccine is so rampant. Anti-vaxxers claim that if they take the vaccine doses they could get affected just like the people in 'I Am Legend', who turn into blood thirsty mutants after being given the vaccine against the very disease. This argument has become quite popular online, on several social media platforms with Facebook becoming a hotbed of such anti-vaccine theories.

In journalist Vera Bergengruen's recently tweeted screenshots, she shares how "'I am Legend' anti-vax references and content also quite popular on pro-Trump and QAnon forums, which seeps over to Facebook." Her thread refers to a recent New York Times article that reported on how an optical business in New York City spent months coaxing, and offering "a cash bonus and a weekly testing mandate to persuade 90 percent of the staff to get a coronavirus vaccine." The fear and distaste for the vaccine is so rampant that despite 'I Am Legend's screenwriter publicly tweeting the entire plot was made up by him, anti-vaxxers are still harping about its alleged veracity, and how the film was made as a preemptive warning about the pandemic and the Covid-19 vaccine.



But fact-checkers would like to remind people that all of this theorizing is complete nonsense -- even if you take into account the film's actual plot. The latest debunking of anti-vaxx theories comes from premium fact-checker Snopes.com, who shared a screenshot of a Facebook post where an unidentified user wrote: "I don't want to alarm anybody.. but y'all remember the I Am Legend movie? Yeah the one with Will Smith?" The user then claims "It was set in 2021.. and the zombie outbreak was due to a failed vaccine." Snopes dismissed the post tweeting: "The zombie outbreak in 'I Am Legend' was caused by a genetically modified virus, not a vaccine." The outlet also wrote: "The movie was set in 2012, not 2021". Even I Am Legend's screenwriter Akiva Goldman tweeted: "Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made that up. It’s. Not. Real."

Users have since also 'corrected' Snopes, addressing how in 'I Am Legend', the genetically reprogrammed virus that causes the zombie outbreak was a virus "created as the vaccine for cancer… can’t believe I have to fact check snopes… yes, yes actually I do believe it," as one user pointed out. But the point that remains undisputed is, as one tweet says, "The outbreak in I Am Legend began in 2009 due to a mutation of a cure for Cancer that resulted in the Krippin Virus. The entire film focuses on Robert Neville trying to find a cure, or at least a vaccine. Anti-vaxxers aren't sending their best." And that's the tea.






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