Source: Dallas Buyers Club
This week’s discussions in class brought me back to when I was first introduced to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in popular media through the movie Dallas Buyers Club and the LGBTQ community in movies like Brokeback Mountain and Milk. Previously I hadn’t thought about the accuracy or authenticity with which these films portrayed LGBTQ issues until our discussion surrounding Queer Media Collectives. In Catherine Saalfield’s On the Make: Activist Video Collectives, she recounts the agenda of grassroots production in “gay and lesbian and AIDS-activist video collectives” and from one of the videos we watched during the screening, the mass media portrayal of AIDS was largely still positioned as “us” white heterosexuals vs “them” – homosexuals afflicted by HIV/AIDS.
Looking back on Dallas Buyers Club, the film both shed a clearer light on the issues but it also largely “dilutes queer identity”. In Kristy Puchko’s op-ed for Cinema Blend, she highlights how the film portrayed a largely heterosexual “white-washing of the 80’s AIDS outbreak”. The ways in which the film heroically portrays the struggle to the Academy further adds to a common theme of appealing to the masses to communicate a “feel good” response from an audience that for the most part cannot empathize from those who endured the AIDS outbreak. She notes how the narrative is “a Trojan Horse that rides in on presumably good intentions, giving us a typical American man, tough, rugged, decidedly straight.” I consider myself very under read in terms of Queer Media Collectives, and from our readings I hope to educate myself more about the community, and ways in which I have perhaps been led to falsely understand these current issues from the mass produced Hollywood narratives. Adding on to Olivia’s post below about Rent, it’s extremely important for us as activists to continue to be allies with the LGBTQ community and recognize the power and privilege we as students have to effect change in the portrayal of this community in mass media and television.
From Week 8: HIV/AIDS Queer Media Collectives