HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. A member of a group of viruses called retroviruses, HIV infects human cells and uses the energy and nutrients provided by those cells to grow and reproduce. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease in which the body’s immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off certain infections, known as “opportunistic infections,” and other illnesses that take advantage of a weakened immune system. The AIDS epidemic is a huge issue and has been for decades. AIDS awareness has been rising and spreading throughout the world through institutions and communities. The NAMES Project AIDS Quilt is one of the biggest and well-known places that spread awareness for AIDS. “I came here today to ask that this nation with all its resources and compassion not let my epitaph read died of red tape”. This is just one of the many quotes on one quilt out of hundreds. The Names Project is located in Atlanta, Georgia and is an enormous quilt made as a memorial to celebrate the lives of people who have passed of AIDS-related causes. HIV/AIDS has been an aging problem for decades now. The problem has been that the government has been ignoring this fact and there was no awareness on the disease. The people who were suffering from the HIV/AIDS were shunned and kept away at a distance. The Names Project gives awareness to this disease and gives the respectful remembrance that those affected deserve. Edward P. Gartner’s family designed her quilt to reflect on what’s important to her. At first glance, it can be seen that there is a Mickey Mouse sewn into the quilt. Mickey Mouse is one of the most renown animated characters and is the front face of Disney. The quilt’s embodiment of Disney is a testament to how the corporation supported and helped the AIDS movement by raising awareness through funding and advertising the disease through movies and songs. This will embody the clear relationship between AIDS and Disney fandom and how they correspond with each other. It may seem rather ironic to have AIDS and Disney compared but through this analysis people will be able to see the clear relationship between the two. Edward P. Gartner’s loved ones dedicated much of his quilt to Disney, so clarifying the relationship would draw the audience into the quilt on behalf of Edward P. Gartner.
Disney has been involved in contributing time and money during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the late 1900’s. Disney has set up many organizations and funds saved up to make awareness of this raging problem. Disney had shows and songs involved with this problem, and they also had many important workers in the media industry who without, Disney wouldn’t be Disney today. This huge epidemic helped shape Disney in a different, unique way that truly solidifies Disney’s identity today.
Disney was one of the biggest organizations that contributed during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The passion and drive can be seen through all the works they have produced and contributed is very inspiring to see. This goes further than just donating money. Disney has been showing a great amount of support, love, and compassion to the families that are affected. Just like the quilts seen at the NAMES project, they show respect to the loved ones affected by HIV/AIDS.
Disney partnered and built different organizations consisting of famous stars popular among children to spread awareness, so they can make a change in the society and environment. The organization was named “Friends for Change” who were vastly popular globally in the 2000’s and consisted of many famous teen Disney actors… HIV/AIDS was not a topic that was talked about among many people especially children under 18, which is Disney’s main audience age. “When healthy children were asked to describe the face of AIDS, they responded with terms such as ‘weak,’ ‘no hair,’ ‘tired all the time’ and “old.’ They didn’t expect that it would be somebody who is just like them,’ says Kopple. At first glance, Chris Edwards could be any 11-year-old boy. He loves to camp, wears his baseball cap backward and gets a kick out of dirt bike riding”(Kramer). Friends for Change showed that kids that looked ordinary like them are going through a tough disease that not many relate to.” The PSAs (public service announcements) they portrayed on the screen would cause a contagious movement that would connect children from all around to make a difference for those who suffer from AIDS. “Kopple also produced but the executive producer who brought her into the project was Laurie Meadoff, president and executive producer of NextNext Entertainment, but best known for her involvement with The CityKids Foundation. The New York-based foundation brings kids from all backgrounds together to help each other creative solutions for the problems in their lives” (Kramer). Kopple, an executive of this organization, used the innocent minds of adolescents to come up with ideas and ways to help create awareness in order to find a cure. Through the helpings of Disney along with partnered organizations, it gives people glimpses of hope to find a cure for AIDS.
AIDS has made its way on the big screen with the Disney classic, The Beauty, and the Beast. “Hear him roar, see him foam But we’re not coming home, ’til he’s dead, good and dead Kill the Beast!”(Ashman). These lyrics are from hit Disney song “The Mob Song” in Disney’s The Lion King. The lyricist Howard Ashman explains how the song explains how he felt during his time when having HIV/AIDS before he passed away. Ashman felt that since AIDS was rising up so rapidly that many didn’t know how to react correctly to it. Many peoples’ reaction was to isolate those who had AIDS/HIV and to ignore the reality. The lyricist speaks on how people treated him wrongly and instead of finding a cure, they treated him like a monster. The beast symbolizes the lyricist because like the beast, people treated him unfairly. The beast is one of the most iconic symbols in Disney film because it shows children that being different doesn’t mean you’re cursed or destined for a life of failure. The Little Mermaid is also someone who embodied a character like the beast. In the beginning of The Little Mermaid, Ariel, the mermaid, was singing and wanting to be one of the humans who have two feet to walk on. She was wondering from afar what it would be like to be able to walk alongside them and be like them.
Disney has done more than just produce films that embody the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Disney has donated millions of dollars to AIDS in the last decade. Disney partners with an organization named UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Fund) to donate large funds for fighting HIV/AIDS and many more issues. “On behalf of The Walt Disney Company Foundation, I am delighted to present UNICEF with this donation of $1 million to help it make the world a better place for children… The donation will help UNICEF continue its progress behind five key priorities for the world’s children: child protection, immunization, early childhood support, fighting HIV/AIDS and girls’ education”(CSR News).
HIV/AIDS goes farther than just “just a disease”. AIDS is a disease that affects all ages across the world. Although Disney has a reputation for happy, sappy movies and shows, they use their fame and popularity to spread awareness of AIDS to all generations. They have raised millions and millions of dollars for research to develop a cure and treatment to those who are suffering. Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States stated “We live in a completely interdependent world, which simply means we cannot escape each other. How we respond to AIDS depends, in part, on whether we understand this interdependence. It is not someone else’s problem. This is everybody’s problem.” As people who share the same earth, it is the responsibility of all to support and spread awareness for AIDS/HIV.
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