Over 15 years since Simon Pegg and Nick Frost discovered a shortcut to the Winchester in Shaun of the Dead, the pair are reprising their zombie killers from the beloved cult classic. And for good reason. While in the Edgar Wright movie, Shaun (Pegg) and Ed (Frost) dealt with a very different type of viral outbreak—something to do with the dreaded Z-word—their experience is a great case study in what not to do right now. Both in terms of zombies and the novel coronavirus.
In the below public service announcement video, the two riff on one of Shaun of the Dead’s cheekiest scenes where Shaun and Ed devise their plan for surviving the apocalypse. As viewable here, the original gist was the two needed to kill Shaun’s zombie-infected stepdad Phillip (Bill Nighy) and rescue Shaun’s ex-girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield). While the specifics changed in every tightly edited fantasy, the point is at the end of the day, they’d all wind up at the pub “and wait for this whole thing to blow over.” As you can see for yourself, that tends to be an even less realistic option with COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
In the above vid, Pegg and Frost, both visibly participating in social distancing, reprise Shaun’s diffidence and Ed’s immaturity.
Beginning with Shaun saying that if Phillip has been infected they should follow the UK’s National Health Service guidelines to the letter, Ed asks don’t you want to kill him? “Of course I want to kill him, I just can’t right now,” Shaun replies (Sorry, Phil). “Don’t go to Liz’s… Don’t go to the Winchester, the pub is out.”
This is sage advice, especially as folks in urban centers not on full lockdown tend to gravitate toward the bars and pubs despite advice from the likes of the UK’s NHS and the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control that this is absolutely what you should not do. As asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 (or those who just haven’t shown symptoms yet) can still and are even more likely to spread the virus, gathering among healthy people guarantees it will continue to spread throughout your community, including eventually to older and and more vulnerable populations.
Plus, you know, Shaun doesn’t drink anymore. As he says near the end of the video, “If you can, stay at home, have a cup of tea, and wait for all this to blow over.” Pity that, but he’s spot on about the rest. “Above all don’t be a twat about things, we’re all in this together. Don’t be selfish, look after each other, give someone a call if you think they might be lonely.”
Pegg and Frost also use the video to subtly concede that some of the language in a 2004 movie has not aged gracefully in 2020, but also point out that when an immature incel (to use modern parlance) says the term “gay” in a movie, it does not mean the filmmakers are endorsing homophobia or his limited point-of-view.
“I know it’s 2020, but the original joke wasn’t intended as homophobic. It was more a comment on the absurdity of straight male appropriation of homophobic signifiers in order to denote their aversion to emotional [candor].” It’s always good when a comic can turn explaining a joke into a joke itself—something we might need more of these days.
You can watch the rest of the video to see what’s going in the lives of Shaun and Ed these days, including what vice has replaced a cold pint for the man in the red tie and with a cricket bat.
(Spoiler: Neither apologizes for the disparaging things they said about Queen 16 years ago. We continue to wait.)