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Midwest Muse

Midwest Muse
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August 04
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"I am made of blue sky and hard rock and I will live this way forever." **************************************** I, alone, am in charge of my happiness.

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AUGUST 7, 2012 1:29PM

How To Survive A Plague

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The 80s were a fabulous decade for me.  I was in high school and college the entire decade.  I went to a lot of good parties, saw a lot of good bands, and read a lot of good books.  The 80s were "Amadeus" and Ghostbusters", REM and The Style Council, peach wine coolers, Reagan and Thatcher, big hair, bringing about the end of Aparteid and the beginning of AIDS.

Columbia, Missouri is a city that has around 100,000 people and one independent movie house, The Ragtag Cinema.  The braintrust behind Ragtag are also the co-conspirators behind Columbia's documentary film festival, True/False.

This year at True/False, we saw "How To Survive A Plague", directed by David France.  It is a documentary about the AIDS epidemic and the group ACT UP.  My high school age daughter went with me.

The film follows the explosion of the AIDS epidemic and some key members of ACT UP as they fight for recognition, equal medical treatment, research, effective drug therapies, and hopefully a cure.

The 80s were the beginning of the video age, so there is a lot of footage of meetings, protests, families and friends.  My daughter held my hand and cried through most of the film.  The reason?  She had no idea that people died such horrific deaths from AIDS.  In her lifetime HIV is a chronic disease, an illness, that if untreated will kill you, like diabetes or heart disease. 

She had no idea of the hysteria and misinformation that abounded during that time.  How you weren't supposed to kiss gay people or use the same utensils or the same bathroom, because you might get "The AIDS".  She didn't realize that no one knew what caused HIV and AIDS, no one knew how to treat it, and frankly, as long as it was only affecting gay men, it was incredibly low on The Powers That Be's list of research importance.  She didn't know that at that time HIV/AIDS equaled death.  And a majority of her peers are as uninformed as she was.

I was lucky.  None of my friends were effected.  The same cannot be said for the many who watched their friends and loved ones die due to indifference, delay, and bigotry.  I recently read somewhere that unprotected sex among young gay men is on the rise.  They need to be informed and protect themselves.

"How To Survive A Plague" has finally wrapped up the festival circuit and will be released in September 2012.  It will probably only show in art houses and independent movie theaters.  When you go, take a high schooler or 20-something with you.  They need to see it. 

We cannot be allowed to forget.

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Comments

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I do remember the days when testing positive meant a death sentence . Yet now, it does not .
Have not heard of this movie but will look it up Midwest . And take a young person along to watch . Indeed .
What a mixed bag the 80s were. I never liked the big hair and the AIDS was a shocker. Thank you for telling us about this important documentary.
As a little girl, I watched my mom's friend pass from AIDS. Even at that young age, I realized just how horribly sick he was. My mom was/is a nurse, so she was the unofficial caregiver for him because she loved him dearly. His own mom didn't even seem to want to have a part in his existence once he recieved his diagnosis. He was such a sweet man. To even think about that awful disease still makes me very wrought with emotion.

But on the flipside, I wish I was born early enough before the 80s that I could have relished in the fads... I love the fashion and most of the music and movies from that period in time :)
Hi Mission - I think it comes out near the end of September. Thank you for stopping by.

Hi Erica - Just like VH1, I love the 80s!

Hi theig86 - Your mom is a wonderful person. Thank you for sharing that. Nice to meet you.
thank you... now i have a film to look forward to! though its too bad films like these do only play to art houses etc... readily available in my area, but not for many.
This reminds me of the young man Ryan White who was so ostracized at his school that his family had to move. I think he may have been asked to leave. Can't remember back that far, but you are right this is a piece of history we need to acknowledge.
Thank you for the recommendation. Like many others, I knew people who died of AIDS during those years. I hope the film specifically tells how Reagan and his uncaring cohorts didn't think the deaths of so many fellow Americans were worth pubicizing the danger. It was a homosexual disease, so it didn't matter. Still makes me sick.
I heard a story on the news quite a few years ago about HIV. Hospitals keep tissue samples for a while after we die. A British hospital was cleaning out there records and came across a sailor that had died of tuberculosis about 50 years prior. On a whim, they did an HIV test and it was positive.

Something went wonky in the 80s. I remember laying out in front of the gray house in '82 talking about it but I don't remember anyone being afraid. Lord knows we didn't start using condoms. We were so young.

Good to know about this movie. I may go just for the memories.
A must-see. Thanks. I know a couple of twelve- and seventeen-year-old girls who should check this out.
Hi Lorianne - I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Bernadine - A very important time. Thank you for coming by.

Stim - I think you'll find it very interesting and maddening too.

Phyllis - We were all so young and stupid and invincible.

Pond - You will want to use your own discretion, parts may be too intense for the 12 year old. Thanks for stopping by.