Sunday, April 25, 2021

Vaccine Thoughts

For the past several months now, and especially for the past month, all we’ve been hearing is the word ‘vaccine’ over and over again. In fact, I’ve personally been hearing the word vaccine more than I’ve been hearing the word ‘the’ or ‘a’ or even ‘it’. Vaccine! Vaccine! Vaccine!

Never before has there been such a massive push for all of us as a collective to do something. It’s all over the news media. “Make sure you get your vaccine,” they say. The insinuation is, “Get your vaccine or you’re doomed.” The implication is also, “You’re a fool if you don’t want the vaccine.” Then, there’s mega-star John Legend who is doing #ThisIsOurShot commercials for Walgreens to make sure everyone gets their vaccine. Furthermore, there are dozens of companies (e.g. Krispy Kreme, Budweiser, Nathan’s Hotdogs, Staples, White Castle) giving away free stuff to anyone who has proof they got their vaccine (who doesn’t like FREE STUFF?). And, just in case all else fails, we are also being shamed and guilted into doing it. Do it to “save the life of your grandmother, grocery store clerk and delivery person,” says Joe Biden[1]. We can’t “celebrate our independence from this virus on July 4th…until everyone has a chance to get their shot,” also says Joe Biden[2]. I’m not sure if it’s the intention (though I would argue that it probably is), but the consequence of all this is that anybody who does NOT want the vaccine feels like a total alien or, hell, in some cases, like a murderer. There is so much pressure to conform and go with the crowd. Vaccine! Vaccine! Vaccine! Gotta get the vaccine!

Now, you may be thinking that this is going to be an anti-vaccine blog. That is not the case at all. In fact, this blog is neither anti nor pro-vaccine. Instead, I want to discuss two interesting phenomena I see rearing their ugly heads from this intense #GotTheShot #ThisIsOurShot #FauciOuchie etc. pro-vaccine campaign.

The first is narcissism.

I personally don’t know if I’ll ever get the vaccine. I have my reasons and I won’t go into them right now. This doesn’t mean, however, that I’m “anti-vaccine” and that I don’t think anybody should get the vaccine. It just means that I may not ever get the vaccine—that’s all. It’s a personal choice that I’m making based on what a little voice in my head is guiding me to do. I have listened to outside voices like the CDC, Dr. Fauci, the media, political figures and other medical personnel and then I’ve listened to my inner voice and I’ve determined I’m going to wait for a while before I get the vaccine, if I ever get it at all (and I’m somewhat doubtful I ever will, to be honest). But, again, this doesn’t translate into me saying nobody should get the vaccine; all it means is that I may never get it. To think that nobody should get it just because I don’t want it would be narcissism.

Likewise, people who want the vaccine and get the vaccine shouldn’t feel that everybody should get the vaccine. Just because you get it and all is fine doesn’t mean that this will be the case for everyone. To think this would be narcissism as well.

The point is that we are all individuals with personal liberty and we all should make decisions based on what we feel is in our own best personal interests. What is a good decision for you does not equate to a good decision for everyone—it would be narcissism to think so. Unfortunately, it seems like there is a lot of narcissism out there because the message in popular culture right now is not “Get your vaccine [if you feel it’s right for you],” it’s, instead, “Everyone should get the vaccine [period].” The insinuation, especially in the media, is that only weirdo Trump supporters refuse to get the vaccine or, if not Trump supporters, then super-religious conspiracy theorists who believe the vaccine is the “mark of the beast,” some kind of microchip injection that allows Bill Gates to spy on you while you shower. This is not the case, but if you were to watch certain media outlets out there, they would have you believe that this were true, that only weirdos don’t want the vaccine.

Along with narcissism (and not totally unrelated from it), the other ugly phenomenon I see coming out of this whole get-your-vaccine campaign is a war between the collective mind and the individual mind.

What is the old saying? “If everybody jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Right now, we are overwhelmed by a tsunami of outside voices telling us to get our vaccine—whether it be the CDC, Dr. Fauci, other medical doctors, political figures, mainstream media, Hollywood celebrities, the list goes on and on. The pressure to conform and listen to these outside voices has never been so high. And although it’s necessary to listen to these voices—many of which are considered “experts”—at the end of the day, we must listen to one voice and one voice only: the inner voice inside our own individual head, because that’s the voice that knows what is in our own personal best interest. And that inner voice, when it really comes down to it, is the voice of God.

What I’m getting at here is that the struggle between the inside voice and the collective outside voice is a struggle between God and, well, the opposite of God, whatever you’d like to call that (there are probably extreme words one could use, but I prefer ‘opposite-of-God’). Again, you should listen to the outside and discern what is and isn’t useful, but the inner voice should always take precedence over the outside voice. The day the outside voice becomes your god is the day that you are essentially practicing idolatry because what is idolatry but replacing God with another ultimate authority, valuing the voice of an outsider (a false god) over the voice of the insider (God). I would argue that there is a movement in the world right now to devalue the inner voice of God inside each and every one of us. It’s essentially an initiative to replace God with an idol. The “outside voices” collectively are that idol; they want to usurp God and become the ultimate controlling authority over you.

Now, this idea of “replacing God” is a very common theme in the world today, not just with the pro-vaccine campaign, but in many other areas of our culture. I’ve written extensively about this war against God in previous articles. We see it with Big Tech’s authoritative attempt to control truth and information via mass censorship (read my article Pride Comes Before the Fall). We also see it with cancel culture where the ruling “outside voices” self-righteously cancel out voices they don’t want other people to hear or books they don’t want other people to read (read more about this in my article “We All Know Cancel Culture is Ridiculous”). Furthermore, we’ve seen ‘the outside’ try to take control over science, nature, biology and even general reality (all of which collectively comprise God when you really think about it) and this is most apparent when they suddenly proclaim that there is no longer any biological distinction between man and woman and if biological men want to compete in biological women’s sports then, hey, that’s totally fair because there is no biological difference between the two genders (read more about this in my article “It’s ok to Admit the Emperor Has No Clothes”). In all these cases, Man is essentially trying to push God to the side—basically saying, “Get behind me, God!”—and secure itself more control, power and authority. This “great reset” we see in our culture is an arrogant display of hubris and I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to sustain itself before falling on its ass completely. Pride, after all, always comes before the Fall.

Anyway, this is all a longish way of saying that, if you want your vaccine and you feel it’s right for you, then do get it. And if not, that’s ok, too. Listen to the outside voices, but, at the end of the day, listen to your inner voice above all else. Once we kill the voice within and just adopt the outside voice as our guide, we are no longer individuals. We are just a collective. And, honestly, I think that’s the plan by those who want the power. A collective body of people with one collective mind is so much easier to control. That’s what “the outside” wants more than anything else: control, control, control and more control. At the end of the day, that’s what this whole year-long COVID experience may be all about: CONTROL.

Read more about the struggle of individualism and collectivism in my recent article: Individualism Vs. Collectivism: The Bad Acid-Like-Trip I Experienced while Watching the Superbowl Halftime Show.

MATT BURNS is the author of THE WOMAN AND THE DRAGON, JOHNNY CRUISE, WEIRD MONSTER and SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES!. Find these books (and many more) at Matt Burns’ Amazon author page HERE.

[1] Here is the full quote from Biden’s April 21, 2021 speech: “Vaccines can save your own life, but they can also save your grandmother’s life, your coworker’s life, the grocery store clerk, or the delivery person helping you and your neighbors get through the crisis.”
[2] Here is the full quote from Biden’s April 21, 2021 speech: “To celebrate our independence from this virus on July 4th with family and friends in small groups, we still have more to do in the months of May and June. We all need to mask up until the number of cases goes down, until everyone has a chance to get their shot.”

Saturday, April 17, 2021


It was the year 2003, which was an important year in my life. This was the year a switch went off inside of me that changed who I was, perhaps forever. That sounds dramatic, I know, but what I mean is I went from being the kind of person who lacked the self-discipline needed to get much of anything done on my own without being told by a teacher or a boss to do it. This meant that when summer vacations rolled around, I would say to myself that I wanted to do all these things, read this or that book, write this or that screenplay or make this or that short film with my video camera, but what I usually ended up doing was playing video games, watching movies, hanging out with friends or skateboarding. I never got much of anything done…

That is, not until the summer of 2003. I had just completed my junior year of college at BU and, during that spring semester, I took a screenwriting class called Screenwriting II. This was the first screenwriting class within BU’s film program where we had to write a full-length (aka “feature-length”) screenplay. I wrote one and it was absolutely terrible…like, really bad. So bad. Bad-to-the-thousandth-power-bad. But the good news was that I learned what NOT to do the next time around.

That summer, I wrote a couple short screenplays, which turned out well, and then I began writing a second feature-length screenplay that I called WATERMELON 4032. What I didn’t know at the time was that this project would gestate in my creative womb for over the next 17 or 18 years and evolve into many shapes and forms and manifestations.

WATERMELON 4032 was about a punk teen who gets a summer job at a supermarket and kidnaps (in a polite way) all the exploited immigrant employees who work there. He does this to make a ‘punk’ statement about how dependent corporate America is on cheap immigrant labor. This script was largely based on my experiences working in two different supermarkets while in college.

4032 is the universal supermarket cashier PLU code for watermelon, so the title was meant to be a metaphor for the human brain (i.e. a melon) being programmed, or basically coded, into an existence of slavery-like conformity, kind of like a matrix. Sounds pretty fucking punk, right? Well, that was the point.

I started the WATERMELON 4032 screenplay in the summer of 2003, but I really only wrote the first Act or so (the equivalent of about 25 pages) and I ended up writing the rest of it that next fall semester for a class at BU called Screenwriting III. Although I got an A in that class and the professor loved the story, at the end of the day, the screenplay was very flawed and I threw it in a desk drawer for several years.

It wasn’t until 2007 that I finally took WATERMELON 4032 out of said drawer, gave it a read and had an epiphany. I knew the story was missing something and what I realized was that this ‘something’ was zombies, skateboarding and much, MUCH more punk. It also needed a new title. From that point forward, it would be known as SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES!

Thus, the new SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! screenplay, formerly known as WATERMELON 4032, was born. I kept much of the exploited immigrant worker themes but also mixed in a lot more wackiness. In fact, I wanted the tone to almost be post-apocalyptic—nearly every character in the story behaves as though they’ve been exposed to some sort of toxic radiation and is kind of whacked out of their mind. I was very influenced by the movie Repo Man (starring Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton, written and directed by Alex Cox), which has a similar wacked-out tone to it.

My SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! screenplay turned out nice but no producer, agent or literary manager out there ever wanted to do anything with it because they suck at life. So, around 2013, I eventually ended up turning the SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! screenplay into a novel, which turned out well, but it didn’t really turn out VERY well until I completely rewrote the manuscript in 2019 (I then spent the next two years fine-tuning it, off and on). That’s when SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! became something really special, at least in my arrogant opinion.

Now, there were two big literary influences that went into the writing of this final version of the novel. The first was Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises, which I read around the time that I was beginning the rewrite. What amazed me about that book was how Hemingway somehow transported me into the experience of bullfighting in a way that felt like I was actually there. I had never been to a bullfight before, never had any interest in it either, but he made me feel like I was literally in that world, going through the experience of a bullfight. I wanted to do this exact same thing, only with skateboarding. What I mean is that I assumed that most people reading my book would not be skateboarders or would not particularly be interested in skateboarding. But I wanted to literally transport them into the experience of skateboarding in a similar way to how Hemingway made me experience bullfighting. They would have no choice but to enjoy and appreciate and basically live the experience.

The other book that heavily influenced the SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! rewrite was the Beastie Boys band memoir Beastie Boys Book. I read this book in early-2019 and I was so impressed with how fun it was. I mean, it was just bursting at the seams with fun energy. I don’t know how else to describe it other than to say it was full of life, full of freedom, and full of the human spirit. I wanted to capture a similar energy in SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! so that’s what I set out to do.

FUN, however, is only one layer of the SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! story. There is a lot of deep shit going on in SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! … at least, I think there is. Overall, the book is about how life tries to throw shackles on the freedom and fun of the human spirit and usually (but unfortunately) wins. Among other things, this book is basically about a punk who tries to fight off these shackles for as long as fucking possible.

In a lot of ways, we’re all slaves and we don’t even know it. I kind of just had this realization now and I don’t even know if it’s appropriate but I wanted to state it here anyway. Does such a statement seem out of place? It might. I don’t know.

Okay, I will not say anything more. I’ll let the book speak for itself. Also, it’s best to shut up and let the readers decide what my books are about because, to be honest, I don’t even know what they’re about, at least not completely…they just come out of me and it is what it is, I guess. Nevertheless, I wanted to give a little story behind the story, to whet your appetite.

Here is a teaser trailer I made for SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES!

SUPERMARKET ZOMBIES! is now currently available as a Kindle eBook on Also available is Burns’ memoir GARAGE MOVIE: MY ADVENTURES MAKING WEIRD FILMS. Find these books (and many more) at Matt Burns’ Amazon author page HERE.