Publication details [#5455]

Gwyn, Richard. 1999. 'Killer bugs', 'silly buggers' and 'politically correct pals': Competing discourses in health scare reporting. Revista Investigações 3 (3) : 335–346. 12 pp.
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Media coverage of HIV/AIDS in the late 1980s revived a perennial cultural fantasy, wherein people are located as either innocent victims' or guilty agents' of illness. The notion of implicit culpability identifies HIV carriers' as agents of otherness, bringing the alien curse of AIDS into normal society's safe haven. By 1994, however, the media had tired of AIDS stories, but the apparently sudden occurrence of necrotizing fasciitis at scattered locations in the UK provoked a week of hysterical news media response. Representations of the 'killer bug' and its paradoxical relationship to the news media's reporting of AIDS, provide insights into both the commonsense value of the invasion/war metaphor, as well as a unique perception of people with AIDS (in opposition to those with the killer bug disease'), as empowered by politically correct pals in influential positions. (Richard Gwyn)