When I first began writing about the anti-vaccine issue, California was the home of the movement (1). The state had more philosophical exemptions than the rest of the country combined, and they were primarily wealthy white elites living on the coast.

You know, like Hollywood.

Things have changed in those 12 years. California had to pass a law mandating vaccines for kids, done after I wrote of schools, such as in Marin county, where under 30 percent of children had vaccines, but getting a law passed was a sign that Hollywood had shaken off the Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Mayim Bialik, Rob Schneider faction (2) and embraced saving the lives of children. Governor Jerry Brown was not doing anything without his largest donors being on board.

And that brings us to the the Golden Globes award ceremony last evening, which had a bizarre, if well-meaning, skit wherein a group of not-a-real-doctor people ran into the audience to give people pretend vaccines. 

Screen shot from the Golden Globes aware ceremony.

Yes, it was a comedy misfire but that's okay, they were showing that vaccines are important.

Unless you are an anti-vaxxer, those fringe activists are just waiting to unleash venom, especially on their former fellow believers in LaLa Land. And they did, after co-host Andy Samberg said, “if you are an anti-vaxxer, just put a napkin on — perhaps over — your head and we will skip you.”

This led to hilarious Twitter tropes(3), namely of ouraged anti-vaccine people putting white napkins on their heads in protest.  Here is just one.

I am hoping this catches on. 'Put on your tinfoil hat' is pretty long-in-the-tooth for paranoid conspiracy ridicule these days.

So help out scientists and doctors. The next time someone says something crazy about chemicals, health, energy or food, tell them they forgot to put on their white napkin.


(1) The American home. It began in England when Reverend Edmund Massey called vaccines “diabolical operations” in 1772, just as it found a modern resurgence there in the 1990s courtesy of Andrew Wakefield, who wanted to sell his competitor to existing vaccines. In the early days, and until the 2000s, it was more the province of fringe religious people. But in modern times religious states like Alabama and Mississippi have very high vaccination rates, even with religious exemptions included, whereas progressive states cling to firebrand rhetoric from the 18th century. They do, however, sometimes adopt the "freedom" language of the right wing, as Dr. David Gorski notes on ScienceBlogs.

(2) In support before it was cool; Amanda Peet, Kristen Bell, Jen Garner, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ewan McGregor.

(3) Obviously, Twitter only really matters if you are selling something. Once a week some anonymous kook retweets their own tweet calling me a Nazi and someone affiliated with the New York University "journalism" department insists I must be a paid shill for Big Science even though this is a non-profit and 100 percent of the money is paid out to writers or maintenance costs. Companies have to cave into this stuff but actual non-profit media does not have to enable such corrosive manipulation of culture.