Film and lit crit about disability

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Kushner, "Angels in America"
Beech leaves
elettaria wrote in crip_crit
I've seen the miniseries of this a few times, and read the playscript for the first part (and must buy the other half some time), and I really like it. It's set in New York in 1980s and focuses on AIDS, although one character (Harper Pitt) also has agoraphobia and a mild Valium addiction. [Spoilers]One of the things I love is that it takes subjects which tend to be depressing by their nature - one of the main problems with depictions of illness and disability - and make them the source for something wonderful and magical, while still acknowledging how rough they are. Prior Walter can be simultaneously suffering from symptoms which society considers icky, such as lesions and thrush and incontinence, and also have rather beautiful fever dreams where he is fabulously in drag and experiencing "moments of revelation", together with Harper's hallucination which somehow merges with his dream, and then have mad angelic sex with the Angel which involves bursting into flame, amongst other things. He's ill and his body is showing signs of the illness, but he's still presented as sometimes beautiful and sexy, although not to the point of being mindlessly sexualised. Harper is an unhappy woman, trapped in a marriage with a gay man who is bursting out of his closet, frightened to go out, and resorting to Valium to hide from it all. Yet her hallucinations also bring out a kind of beauty in her, her ability to marvel at the wonders of the world, a bit like Miranda in the Tempest saying, "O brave new world that has such people in it."

There's also an examination of the politics of AIDS and illness, how this intersects with LGBT politics and general politics and religion. The Roy Cohn character gives a long speech to his doctor declaring how he can't have AIDS, because AIDS is what homosexuals get, and he can't be a homosexual because he's a man of great power. He's partly deluding himself and trying to cover up reality, dying in the closet as well as living there, but he does make some interesting points, in a devil's advocate sort of way. And there's the community aspects of AIDS in the gay world, something both treasured (Belize is a good example of this) and prone to fall apart (Lewis abandoning Prior because he can't cope; Roy rejecting his community and dying alone).


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