Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion imagines a world where Gwyneth Paltrow, smuggling the avian flu in her delicate bird bones, unleashes a pandemic that very nearly destroys civilization, and kills a dozen or so Hollywood stars in the process. It’s a horrifying prospect, but might it also be kind of sexy? That’s the question being posed over at the Sneeze Fetish Forum, where Internet denizens who are turned on by sneezing gather to discuss their fixation, exchange sneeze porn, and, naturally, alert each other to choice scenes of sneezing in pop culture, whether they occur on shows like Hell’s Kitchen or even Futurama, as they will take sneezes wherever they can get them. And given that Contagion is a film that features Marion Cotillard playing a sort of expert in the forensics of sneezing, you might expect the board to be all over it, and that sneeze fetishists would be aching to flock to Contagion, balled-up Kleenexes in tow.
But while forum users do admit that the idea has them “excited”—with some even admittedly a little too excited, and thus “too shy to see it in movie theaters”—there’s also the issue of people getting sick and dying by the thousands, which is sort of a turn-off. “The whole epidemic/pandemic element takes absolutely all of the appeal out sneezes and illness for me,” one user says, while another hates the idea of seeing the romantic intimacy of sneezing being exploited like that: “Contagion is lovely between two people of interest, but spread it across the whole damn world? No thank you!” And even though the response of the Sneeze Fetishist Forum is, as Gawker says, definitely “divided,” even those who are looking forward to it are already dreading the inevitable censorship of all the good stuff, as user “Blah-San” notes, “Knowing Hollywood, they will still find a way to cut all the sneezes out of this movie.” Indeed, when will the MPAA stop its relentless prudish assault on sneezing??!