According to various- and dubious- spiritual leanings, scientific evidence and egotistical ball grabbing, us humans are kings of all earth: beasts, plants, land and all we can survey. Everything was created by God/Big Bang/Our Father/ Mother for us to frolic, wade and take huge environmental shits on all we see.
However therein lies that itchy small print…. All we see. Through-out history man has died at the hands of infinitesimally small creatures. So small that, yes, you’ve got it, we can’t see them. Of course, man too has been stupidly inventive in the manner he kills man. Bombs, reality television, gas chambers, scorned lovers and drunk drivers, notwithstanding, the most effective method to kill man is… disease. Even in Africa where the media’s coverage of crime has our sphincters in a state of paralysis, most people die the way nature chooses. Slowly.
Of course, each person has a little control of how painful that death should be. We cut down on the burgers and cigarettes so that the triple bypass doesn’t become a quadruple bypass. Beyonce starves herself every now and a then so she can fit into her concert wardrobe (not fitting into a dress is a medical condition in America, so is being ugly, that’s why the plastic surgeons are called doctors) and even Nelson Mandela declined a second term because prostate cancer is no stroll in the park- it’s a long walk to… you get it.
Con-doms too are a preventative measure of death. AIDS unlike cancer is almost completely preventable. Except for rape, birth and dodgy blood transfusions. It is mostly a virus contracted through personal neglect. Shit is not a flu. One could say anyone over 16 and is functionally literate should be aware of this. Alas, we are still outchea.
I have an irritation towards conversations about HIV and AIDS in the media.
The cryptic neon billboards have not reduced infection rates, neither have the US government funded oooh-aaahinducing documentaries. Our parents and children have died due to AIDS and the most we can say is… ‘Either you are infected or affected’. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that slogan will scare the living fucks out of my 15- year-old cousin enough to convince him to protect himself.
The media’s representation of AIDS is handled like a fucking Coke advert; warm colours, catchy jingles and completely meaningless slogans like O ichekeand countless other ethno-fied catch phrases, where people living with the virus are all warm fuzzies collected around a studio discussing the stigma. Real-life testimonies of how you can beat ‘IT’.
So what’s the point? Why all the fuss if in the end it is manageable like asthma and diabetes. Why spend so much money on advertising, workshops, broadcasting and courses, to create a complete and viable industry. An industry where you can make and lose millions, create a niche product for the market and gain great profit margins and speak business terms about how to save a population of lives.
Cynical? Perhaps, but we are talking about the single biggest epidemic in the history of man. Yet we still choose to show chubby cheeked models wearing the latest Adidas chanting, “Stop the stigma”.
Taking responsibility is the most important aspect of living with HIV/AIDS. That means the people who aren’t infected must make it clear that if/when they do get the disease, the onus is theirs first and foremost. Family and society do not have to adjust their lives to accommodate a dispossession that is clearly avoidable. True support isn’t uncritical sympathy.
HIV/Aids is devastating, vile, sad, painful beyond comprehension and above all, ultimate. If the effects of this epidemic on families were to be shown on TV, they would have to play those disclaimers about ‘…. Sensitive viewers and children..’ before showing it. The sort of realism this social predicament needs to be faced with, not flowery sympathy that hollows empty with pity. Not happy clappy over-comers who repeat the ABCs like some sort of 70s cult and certainly not those super trendy newspaper supplements aimed at teenagers with interviews of Instagram models singing the same tune.
Concept, Creative Direction & Words: Tanlume
Collaging : Giancarlo Calaméo LaGuerta