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Films glamorizing illness are downright dangerous because they put out a false projection of what people like me deal with on a daily basis.

By Jazmine Joyner The "sick girl" genre of film is a name I gave to movies that feature stories around sick women and girls (predominantly white sick women and girls) and about how they flew into a  male character's life and within a short amount of time they teach him how to live, as they die. Movies like "A Fault in Our Stars" (this is the reverse, it's a manic pixie dream boy, refreshing!) , "A Walk to Remember", " I Miss You Already", "Now is Good", "Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl", and "Me Before You"  are prime examples of films that use illness as an inspirational tool to serve white able-bodied people.   I am borrowing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, which is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin that is defined as "That bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures." This definition fits these characters to a tee. In "A Walk To Remember" Mandy Moore's sick and soulful character Jamie Sullivan teaches Shane West's bad boy going down the wrong tracks, Landon Carter, about love and being an upstanding human, even finding the time in-between chemotherapies to reunite Landon and his father. Jamie's illness even inspires Landon to go into medicine. All while our girl Jamie is this stagnant character that solely lives to be loved by Landon. She needs nothing else, craves nothing, and then dies. She is a perfect manic pixie sick girl.   Films like "A Walk To Remember" are harmful because of how they represent sickness and those who are living with illnesses every day. Every film mentioned above is used not to show a real person dealing with chronic disease and having a good life despite their diagnosis. But make the sick person a prop to their abled counterpart. They are a life lesson or some inspirational figure there to only further the abled characters development. In these films you see glamorous frail white girls laying in bed pining for love. Because you know love can heal, naturally.  These depictions not only are boring but are completely unoriginal.  

For World AIDS Day, let’s remember those we’ve lost to the virus but also remember that we all have an opportunity to fight it.

Today is World AIDS Day, a day that we use to remember those lost to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It’s also used to remember that many more people are currently living with HIV and AIDS. For queer people, this day is especially important because it’s a reminder of what we’ve lost: an entire generation of artists, musicians, lovers, activists, and elders who had so much to give queer life and the world at large. Tens of thousands of queer people were lost to us. Every year, we end up uncovering or rediscovering art, writing, or music created by this “lost generation”, ever reminding us of the thousands of potentials that were so cruelly and violently lost to us. With that said, it’s important to not only mourn for those lost or lament the talents stolen from us. We also need to remember two vital things: one, the tenacity and ferocity with which queer people — both those with HIV and AIDS and those who don’t have it — fought and continue to fight against HIV and AIDS. We also need to remember that their work to get the US government to listen to their demands has been saving all of our lives, and will continue to as we discover new ways to treat and prevent the disease. One more contribution they gave, not just to people with HIV or AIDS or people at risk to it, but to all of us, was the development of the “right to try” principle. This principle essentially states that those who have an incurable chronic or terminal illness — such as cancer or multiple sclerosis — should have the right to try anything that can potentially extend their lives, treat their suffering, or even cure their ailments.

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