In the last century in the U.S., an incredible scandal took place: It became known that famous basketball player Magic Johnson was HIV-positive. Anyone not living under a rock was talking about it. This happened at exactly the right moment: The U.S. government, as it happened, was seriously concerned about the problem of AIDS — and there was a gift to both liberals and conservatives in one. One side was able to discuss the moral degeneration of modern society, while the other could point out the social aspects of the problem and call on society to show tolerance, and to help both friends and strangers who were in need.
Although it was done in jest, the animated U.S. television series “South Park” pointed out that now, in the 21st century, having AIDS is no longer in style, while instead a new illness has come into fashion: cancer. In the show, Magic Johnson appears and is approached by two young boys who have been diagnosed with HIV. They have come to find out how he manages to live so long and in relative comfort despite having contracted the disease. It is revealed that those infected with HIV achieve positive results from large amounts of money …
However, the “class” aspect of South Park’s moral takeaway is less interesting than the issue of “style” when it comes to modern society’s reaction to certain viruses. Meanwhile, Ebola fell out of fashion literally within days of the last suspected cases being released from the hospital.
At the moment, the position of “most important virus” remains empty — why not return to the tried and tested illnesses? However, this isn’t exactly what we’re talking about. Instead, the curiosity lies in the following question: How do journalists react when it becomes known that some movie star is HIV-positive, if the discussion is not exclusively about the news itself?
For example, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of U.S. neoconservatism (remember, neoconservatism is not just about aggressive foreign relations!), wrote about Magic Johnson, he stated: “Why is Magic Johnson regarded by our media as some kind of moral hero, even a role model for the young? Mr. Johnson, a basketball player of extraordinary talent, has tested HIV positive, as a result — he tells us — of having been sexually promiscuous with more than 200 women. One or some of these women were infected with the HIV virus. As a result, a brilliant career has been cut short, as has a life. It is a sad story, to which compassion and pity are appropriate responses. But it is also a sordid story of a man defeated by his unruly sexual appetite. So why are we being asked to see him as an innocent victim, courageously coping with adversity?”
At the end of the piece, Kristol, who has been vilified (as should be expected of an ideologically biased publicist) by all liberals, concludes that: “The victims of AIDS are, in truth, the victims of the liberal-progressive ideology.”
Tell me — is this not perhaps the correct turn?
However, this approach is actually exactly the kind of calculated and indeed predictable trick that is always activated in such situations — blaming everything on the political right or left.
Seriously, let’s talk about how the top news agencies have been writing over the past few days about the news that actor Charlie Sheen, everyone’s best friend, admitted to having been HIV-positive for the last four years.
Charlie Sheen is a far cry from Magic Johnson. According to social media, he had not 200, but 5,000 sexual partners. Sheen himself was more than once implicated in scandals related to his narcotic and alcohol addictions. If the late Kristol condemned Johnson as a man who was taken down by his own vices, what would he have to say about Sheen?
As Kristol mentioned, almost everyone was sorry for Magic Johnson’s grief; with this in mind, it is curious to note the reaction of many domestic users to Charlie Sheen’s news. The fact is that Sheen had, at some point, been cast by society as an ironic figure. His image as a “fallen star” had given rise to an enormous number of jokes across any and every topic. Perhaps, Sheen was tired of this; his revelation should at least have softened his image somewhat.
It’s possible that he even waited expectantly for sympathy.
Instead of this, he received another batch of cruel jokes at his expense. The special breed of “getting the scoop” — an exclusive, juicy news story — that was generated as a result of his revelation was indeed rather strange. Needless to say, there is something rather vicious about a world in which this kind of revelation becomes big news, and is heaped with a cascade of twisted jokes.
However, his revelation forced us again to think about this decidedly important problem. It’s enough to simply talk about it as a real problem, rather than something that is “in fashion” in the style of South Park. What’s more, the more important a problem is, the less people will argue about it. On the Moscow metro, for example, public announcements dedicated to AIDS awareness have appeared again.
In this way, maybe repeating the news of a star’s illness — especially when the revelation was made with the goal of it becoming big news — can help to return problems to the spotlight, even after it has been more than 10 years since their onset. However, in the case of Charlie Sheen, neither liberal nor conservative ideology was to blame. Perhaps the guilty party was simply Charlie Sheen himself?
Irving Kristol, of course, would say “yes.” However, at this point, the question serves no purpose. We must simply sympathize with Charlie Sheen and wish him good health.