Camcorder AIDS activism is a prime example of a new form of political expression—an outburst of committed, low-budget, community-produced, political video work made possible by new accessible technologies. As Alexandra Juhasz looks at this phenomenon—why and how video has become the medium for so much AIDS activism—she also tries to make sense of the bigger picture: How is this work different from mainstream television? How does it alter what we think of the media’s form and function? The result is an eloquent and vital assessment of the role media activism plays in the development of community identity and self-empowerment.
An AIDS videomaker herself, Juhasz writes from the standpoint of an AIDS activist and blends feminist film critique with her own experience. She offers a detailed description of alternative AIDS video, including her own work on the Women’s AIDS Video Enterprise (WAVE). Along with WAVE, Juhasz discusses amateur video tapes of ACT UP demonstrations, safer sex videos produced by Gay Men’s Health Crisis, public access programming, and PBS documentaries, as well as network television productions.
From its close-up look at camcorder AIDS activism to its critical account of mainstream representations, AIDS TV offers a better understanding of the media, politics, identity, and community in the face of AIDS. It will challenge and encourage those who hope to change the course of this crisis both in the ‘real world’ and in the world of representation.