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Marvin Santos

Introso – EL

Reaction Paper

“And the band played on” was a story of the discovery of the

AIDS virus. From the early days in 1978 when numerous San Francisco

gays began dying from unknown causes, to the identification of the HIV

virus. Researchers began discerning a mysterious new disease that

apparently affects only homosexual males. American and French

researcher team manage to identify and name the disease which is

AIDS working separately but only before already a lot of people has

been infected by the disease.

Different sociological thinking was portrayed in the film. By using

the 4 lenses of sociological perspective to view the film we can see

how sociology operates in the society. First is seeing the general in

the particular, we can see the general in the particular in the movie

on how certain gay people reacted to disease. We can see that it is

possible to identify general patters in the behavior of particular people.

We can see in the film the power of society to affect our actions,

thoughts, and feelings. A good instance on the film was when the “gay

cancer” guy started to put pliers out and started making them realize

that typecasting AIDS as a gay cancer is not right. We may think that

his actions were brought by his own judgment to act accordingly, but

we can also think that he made his decisions with social matters in his

mind. Maybe because he is thinking that because of this disease he’s

already being outcast by the society that’s why he decided to do

something about it. The society defines the people with this disease

and how should the people who has it must behave. Another

sociological perspective that we can mention is seeing the strange

in the familiar, that we can notice in the film. In this perspective

rather, looking at life sociologically requires giving up the familiar idea

that human behavior is simply a matter of what people decide to do in

favor of the initially strange notion that society shapes our thoughts

and deeds. For example, in the movie when Dr. Don Francis (CDC

researcher) said that “I work in the government because it is where the

diseases are.” Such response may seem right to him. But is he telling

the whole story? Thinking sociologically we might realize that working

in the government is where most of his collogues has gone to or

maybe it is natural for his line of work to enter in the government. Also

maybe he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite joining private companies

discovering things for money purposes. This kinds of thought might

have influence him to work in the government, so even if he had said

that it is his choice maybe society has something to do with it. Third

perspective we can see in the film is individuality in the social

context. We can see that even in our most personal choice society can

dictate us. In the case of Dr. Francis giving samples to the French as

common courtesy, Dr. Gallo perceived the good notion otherwise. Dr.

Gallo believed that Dr. Francis liked the French and that it is his own
decision to help them thinking only about himself. We can clearly see

in the film that Dr. Francis decision was affected by social matter, in

this case courtesy. Dr. Gallo is wrong when he thought that this was a

personal vendetta against him. Lastly the importance of global

perspective can also be observed in the film. We can clearly see this

in the first scenes where people in Africa are dying of because of AIDS.

Global awareness is greatly discussed in this matter, society has a job

to let other people know and otherwise know the peoples problem

between them. In the movie because America was not also aware of

the disease if quickly spread like wildfire affecting every victim in its

path. Society has a major job of knowing these kinds of things and

being aware to what is happeining.

One of the two major issues that affected me the most is how it

took so long for the government and other faction included (like the

Blood bank) to take actions for the disease to at least be controlled. We

can see in the film that the blood bank could not even approve to

spend money in making tests on the bloods they are offering to check

whether it has the disease or not, also public bath houses at first was

unable to be closed although there are reasonable doubts, that it could

be the main cause of the spread in the virus. I could not believe that in

these severe cases these factions manage to think only about their

selves and for their well being only. I believe that the effect of the

disease could have been controlled if he government had taken its

action sooner. Another issue that called my attention was how the

French and American research team had conflicts in resolving the

identification of HIV that lead to the delay. Both of them should be

working together in defeating the disease for the good of the whole,

instead they opt to clash over who discovered the virus first holding up

the research. Conflicts like these must be resolve quickly in these

extreme cases to benefit the whole society.

The message of the film could be best explain by the paradigm

“Symbolic Interactionism”. We can clearly see in the movie that people

act toward things based on the meaning of those things have for them;

and these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified

through interpretation. People interact with each other by "interpreting

or defining” each other's actions instead of merely reacting to each

other's actions. One great example of these in the movie was how it

was hard for the government to close the public bath houses, because

these were symbols of sexual freedom for the gays they know that

closing it would violate their freedom and will have harse reactions

from the gay community. And that closing these house would create

different meanings that will yield unwanted results.