Dear Thesis Committee Members,
Thank you for your feedback on my latest draft. I was a little confused by your criticism that my dystopian sci-fi screenplay read as too accurate and the subsequent questions insinuating my possible membership in a clandestine deep state conspiracy.
When I started writing a satire of late-stage capitalism involving a global pandemic, it was with the honest intention of crafting a creative piece. I did not have insider information (no, I am not a secret epidemiologist), and I did not have a pipeline of information from any corporation that would benefit from our current crisis. If I did, rather than working hard to finish this draft of my thesis, I would have found ways to invest in hand sanitizer and Zoom and would now be quarantining in a luxurious penthouse rather than graduate student housing.
As I recall, back in September when I began this project, the feedback from this committee included notes that I was being too ham-handed with my apocalypse imagery; surely, a global pandemic, financial collapse, and a literal plague of locusts would not occur at the same time throughout the world and it would behoove me to exercise more restraint. While I feel vindicated that my vision of the apocalypse turned out to be rather grounded and nuanced, it smarts to be derided for lack of originality now.
I will also point to slight differences in my fictionalized apocalyptic scenario. While I imagined mask-wearing as common in my dystopian world, I opted for the more steampunk interpretation of apocalypse fashion rather than the current trend of pajamas for day and night, with pants as optional components while in the home.
Criticism was also previously levelled at this screenplay for my treatment of economic realities. This committee was skeptical of the idea that government would delegate a crisis response to the private sector. I acknowledge that the screenplay reads as painfully accurate in places and as you will see, have edited out some of the parallels that now read as too on the nose. While advising plague victims to disinfect themselves with Lysol at the time read as absurd, I understand that this now reads as a direct reference and have replaced that scene with a musical interlude and an aspirational montage of citizens baking bread.
As to the coincidental accuracy of the infection curves and death tolls in the film, no I did not have access to preliminary data of any kind. I came up with what sounded like a worst-case scenario and drew some graphs that looked ominous. Any resemblance to accurate facts and figures is purely coincidental and I cannot be held responsible.
For these reasons and more, it is my opinion that the committee should accept this draft of my thesis as a final draft and sign my attached approval form. I am aware that film production has shut down for the foreseeable future and that likely no one will want to make or watch this film, and have taken your advice on board to consider for my next project something that will speak to people in this trying time. With this in mind, if you can spare a moment of your quarantine, I would also appreciate your feedback on the concept documents I have attached for a children’s book about the world of big cat breeding that I started writing last fall. I think there might really be an audience for this.