Cover me I’m going in by mattsteinglass
June 27, 2008, 2:52 am
Filed under: Media

In Michael Winterbottom’s brilliant and too little noted futuristic oedipal tragedy “Codex 46”, one of the clever turns is that a kind of globalized apartheid is established between places and people who have “cover”, meaning who are insurable, and places and people that aren’t. The “cover” zone starts at the outskirts of, say, Shanghai, and people in the covered class simply don’t venture outside that boundary, let alone to entire uncovered regions like the Middle East. And even people in the covered class may be uncovered for certain zones if they’re found genetically vulnerable to diseases that are endemic there. It’s a brilliantly sinister vision of how economic systems create class boundaries in ways that, these days, supersede the need for hard and fast legal divisions like the old South African passbooks.

I had thought the term “cover” was a brilliant neologism the film had invented, coming to stand for that global class division between the haves and have-nots. But as I found out a couple of weeks ago while booking flights on EasyJet and being offered travel insurance, “cover” is simply the British term for what an American insurance company would call “coverage”. I’m not sure whether that’s really any less sexy, though – it’s just as clever to have taken this everyday word and played out its implications into a whole sci-fi “Time Machine”-type bifurcation of the human race.


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