Critics have showered Dallas Buyers Club with praise, which is good news for Focus Features and Matthew McConaughey, whose outsized performance swings for the fences.
But it’s bad news for LGBT history and the history of AIDS activism, writes Partrick Mulcahey in Huff Post. You see, Mulcahey ws really thre in those days:
“McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a Texan homophobe who loves rodeo, drugs, booze, and loose women and scams for cash. The chance discovery in 1985 that he has HIV and a T-cell count of 9 marks him for imminent death, but he won’t go down easy. He buys AZT stolen from a study. He smuggles unproven treatments home from Mexico to sell at a profit, cutting a deal with a drug-addicted transgender woman (a transcendent Jared Leto) who disgusts him for access to gay men who might be desperate enough to pay.
“What is largely missing is the sense that Ron’s efforts are part of a larger movement,” theNew York Times review diplomatically suggests. Variety puts it more artlessly, gushing over McConaughey as “a redneck bigot who becomes the unlikely savior to a generation of gay men frightened by a disease they don’t yet understand.”
“Really? Is that how you remember it, if you remember it? ACT UP doesn’t exist in Dallas Buyers Club, nor do NAPWA, the PWA Health Group, GMHC, John James’ AIDS Treatment News, the Healing Alternatives Foundation. The film’s only gay characters are weak, docile, dithering, relegated to the background, standing in line for what Woodroof is selling — and overselling.
“In 1986, after years of blind rage — at the sickness and sanctimony, the calls for quarantine, the hawking of crystals; at affirmation-spewing quacks like Louise Hay; at the sheer, harrowing loss of friends and neighbors and co-workers — I stumbled into Project Inform’s shabby little office in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Two men, Tom Jefferson and Ron Koslow (“a Texas sissy, honey”), were on the phones, answering questions about experimental treatments for AIDS. (There was no other kind, of course.) I learned to take calls. I stuffed mailing packets with information about ribavirin, AL721, isoprinosine, interferon, rifabutin, pentamidine, fluconazole, and dextran sulfate and how to get them. I scanned the AmfAR Treatment Directory and study lists from all over to identify clinical trials that our callers might qualify for. Continue reading “Not buying the “Buyers Club” revisionism”