The Daily Heller: Enough With the Microbes Already!

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Enough already with the super-duper, mega-enlarged, beautifully luminescent magnifications of the damn COVID-19 virus—and all the other monstrous germs, bacteria and spirochaeta, treponema, borrelia and leptospira that are floating around inside and around living organisms. It has been proven that micrography and cinephotomicrography can be done; it is wondrous and useful to science. Congratulations! But …

I am already squeamish looking at enlarged photos of common house flies’ heads (ugggghhh). Why is it necessary for media to continually show the extreme close-ups of revolting microbic demons that have taken residence in our human boarding houses?


Sure, I was fascinated by the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage, based on the novel by Issac Asimov about a miniaturization technology that radically reduces a submarine to microbic size by shrinking individual atoms, allowing it to carry out a secret mission deep inside the circulatory and/or nervous system of a human body. Sure, it was even swell to see Raquel Welch knee-high to a blood cell. But frankly the novelty has worn off with what we are seeing constantly of the novel coronavirus. And although it makes for a cute plush stress-ball (and meaty icon for cartoonists and graphic designers), seeing it in its magnified glory is gory; more stressful than seeing Godzilla, Mothra, giant house flies, elephantine ants or actual-sized spiders. So, at least for the duration of COVID-19, how about a moratorium on microscopic magnification-porn of proteins, fungi, lesions and anything else that maybe looks cool when illuminated or in a sci-fi movie—but not in, on or around our own bodies.

Blood cells
Anti virus

Oh, and while I’m ranting, enough with Shrek too.


About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →