Film Critique Paper And the Band Played On The movie is about the first couple years of AIDS, mostly in the United States. It tells the political as well as the scientific struggle that occurred with the discovery of AIDS. The main character Dr. Don Francis heads the research of AIDS with little money and little help. This was because AIDS was considered the “gay man’s disease” and there was more emphasis on who discovered the disease than actually helping those who had it.
Basically, the movie was about the government and many other individuals being ignorant and looking the other way because homosexual males were seen as a lesser priority and group. As to the question of what long-term effect did prejudice and discrimination toward homosexuality have upon contemporary American life? I believe the film showed that there was a typical acceptable hostility towards homosexual males. This was not exhibited only by the vast majority but by the government as well when they refuse to give money because the research of AIDS was not a priority. There was also an effect on the homosexual population itself.
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The homosexual group were unwilling to put their “sexual revolution” on hold and close the bathhouses. As a result of the long-term prejudice and discrimination, they were categorized as their own lesser group. There are many instances of institutionalized discrimination in the movie And the Band Played On. A brief definition of institutionalized discrimination is unfair, indirect treatment of an individual or group by large organizations such as governments or corporations. Bill Kraus in one of the opening scenes, is discussing the discrimination of homosexuals by the government.
He said that they were not looking for any special privileges or legal protections. What he asked of the committee and the Democratic Party is to recognize that they as a group were humans. This scene showed that they knew that the government was discriminating against them and all they aspired for was to be given the same rights as everyone else. The most obvious form of institutionalized discrimination was government’s unwillingness to get involved in the research of AIDS when it was first discovered. The government ignored the medical crisis and refused to give money or support because it was only effecting the homosexual group.
Politicians and individuals high up in the government did not want anything do with it since it was considered a gay disease. The direct result of the ignorance of so many individuals caused many more people to get the disease. A scene in the movie depicting this was when the word homosexual was crossed out of the newsletter when it discussed the disease. There are even scenes that talked about the institutionalized discrimination that was happening. Dr. Conant was asking why he has not seen anything about the disease on the news or in any newspaper even though the cases had been piling up all over the country.
After that, he asks if Washington knew about it and is doing anything about it. He is then told that if they do know about it, they don’t discuss it. After watching this film, my eyes were opened to a form of discrimination that I never thought about before. A form of discrimination that I rarely here about on the radio and news, or read about in the paper. The form of discrimination that I always here about are by individuals or smaller groups that act on their prejudice view to hurt others. These only effect one or a few people at a time.
The government, as shown in the movie, can hurt many more when they discriminate. Thousands of people were discriminated against in the movie, but what bothered me was how many others were hurt because the government didn’t do anything. The countless others that acquired AIDS when they knew they were giving infected blood or how many others could have prevented themselves from getting it if the government would have stepped in sooner. It just shows that the government can do far greater damage than any single person or group. It also opened my eyes to how a life can be valued different then from another.
I saw this when Dr. Francis asks how many hemophiliacs does the committee need to die before it becomes cost efficient for them to do something about it. He asks when will it be more profitable for them to save people then it is to kill them. This showed me that lives are not valued as equal, especially homosexual one. I just do not know how this becomes to be, particularly by the government which is not supposed to be prejudice. If the same situation had arisen and effected anyone other than the gay community, I believe that the situation would have been handled differently.
The movie also showed how individuals put themselves before others, especially those who should not. In the movie, Dr. Gallo pulls all support from Dr. Francis including re-agents and antibodies to the virus. Dr. Gallo puts him and his reputation before all the others that had and could get the virus. To him, the virus was an opportunity to further his name and reputation in the scientific community. Dr. Gallo chose to play god when he decided to pull the resources from Dr. Francis. He could have saved countless of others but he wasted precious time to find out more about the virus and make people aware.
As for him, I think no punishment would be too severe in justification of his actions. Overall, the actions of the government and from individuals like Dr. Gallo resulted in the gay community to suffer greatly. Not only did AIDS effect them physically but it also did mentally. They were already alienated because of their sexual orientation and this discovery socially alienated them more. An example of this is the migration that they talked about in the film. They said that San Francisco was the only place that they fit it in at.
It was the only place that they could fit in with other “freaks” like them as it said in the movie. It showed in the movie that the gay community was scared of this disease. Not only because it was deadly, but also because little was known about it. It left the gay community with the feeling of helplessness. All they wanted was to be seen as equals but they were either ignored or used as a stepping stone for somebody’s career. Now that it is a few decades later, one would believe that strides have been taken to achieve Bill Kraus’s dream to be seen as equals.
Strides have been taken over the years, but some issues that I think should have been resolved by now are not. These issues include same-sex marriage and bias in schools and employment. Shockingly, these both are examples of institutionalized discrimination. Only a few states recognize same-sex partnerships and even fewer allow them to get married in their state. It is a different issue than the movie but the same result. Many people in the government still do not want to get their hands dirty by dealing with these issues.
I think that the majority believes that same sex-marriage and equal opportunities in employment should happen. These issues are still seen as an inconvenience for certain people and that is why nothing has really happened with them. Even though the times have changed, and it seems as though being gay has become more acceptable, this just goes to show us that people will continue to be prejudice against those who are different from them or have different beliefs. As for the question of what events turned HIV into an acceptable disease. The most obvious answer would be that it only effected a community that no one cared about.
I think that the bigger picture is however, it was more of the lack of events that turned HIV into an acceptable disease. It was a lack of publicity, government action, and awareness that was given to it. It was a lack of acknowledgement of the importance of HIV from government officials because it was not seen as a priority. As a result, HIV was not seen as very important from anyone outside of the gay community so it became more of an acceptable disease. Blaming the victim, a key term in the book, is another reason why I think it has turned into an acceptable disease.
Blaming the victim is portraying the problems of racial and ethnic minorities as their fault rather than recognizing society’s responsibilities. I feel that society didn’t feel any responsibility that they should do anything because they thought it was the gay community’s fault and if they were not homosexual, there would not be a problem. So in conclusion, the movie illustrated the prejudice and discrimination of the gay community during the first few years of the AIDS epidemic. It showed the institutionalized and personal discrimination from the government and certain individuals.
Now a few decades later, they are still experiencing some of the same prejudice and discrimination that they faced in the past. The movie gives a good portrayal of the difficult life that faces minority groups, past or present. Hopefully, in the future, we will learn that there is more to be gained from treating others equally and not revert to prejudice views. References Hatch, Victoria. “And the Band Palyed On (1993). ” www. lehigh. edu. 30 Nov 1999. 16 Apr 2009 . Schaefer, Richard. Racial And Ethnic Groups. 11th. New Jersey: Upper Saddle River, 2007. Print