Photo Credit: Vanity Fair
As the AIDS crisis escalated during the 1980s, the government and media did a poor job at addressing the crisis head on. A new video released by filmmaker Scott Calonico displays the level of ignorance towards the disease in its early years when it had already claimed the lives of hundreds of Americans.
The video plays audio from three different press conferences between President Ronald Reagan's Press Secretary Larry Speakes and the media in the years 1982, 1983, and 1984.
The video shows how the AIDS epidemic was met mostly with homophobic jokes on the part of the White House and media when it first appeared on the scene. Later press conferences show that some research funding was made available, but talk of the disease was still shrouded in lighthearted jabs as the death toll climbed to the thousands.
The government's failure to constructively and appropriately respond to the AIDS epidemic isn't exactly news, but the audio clips remind us of how easy it is to shrug away the suffering of others and how damaging ignorance and intolerance can be.