chapter  6
15 Pages

Disease, representation, and activism

Crossover: The Global Impact of AIDS (1988) and its reverberations
ByDavid Thorsén

Analyses of visual and mediated representations of disease are important for our understanding of health and illness and their epistemological, political, and social effects. The film Crossover: The Global Impact of AIDS, written and directed by Staffan Hildebrand and narrated by the American actor Martin Sheen, was presented in 1988 as an international exposé of the ongoing epidemic. Targeting the young, the film toured local schools and was broadcast on television networks all over the world. Praised by many, Crossover was also criticized for being tendentious and ignorant, even dangerous to a young audience. In this chapter, Crossover and its reception are examined as an example of how language, metaphors, visual images, and sound create a particular knowledge of a disease, stressing the importance of the multiple meanings, agents and strategies in late twentieth-century public health communication.