i wear this crown of thorns, upon my liar’s chair.
full of [ b r o k e n ] thoughts i cannot repair.
Andrew Scott for Attitude Magazine.
I’m new to the fandom, so this has very probably been discussed before (and if it has, do feel free to link me to said discussions - I’m very interested to see what others have to say on this topic), but I couldn’t find any meta about this in particular in the In The Flesh meta tag, so I decided to speak about about my interpretation of PDS as representative of HIV and AIDS.
For anyone who isn’t aware, Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a lifelong virus transmitted via bodily fluids such as blood and semen. There is no cure, although there are treatments available to prevent the virus from reaching its final stage, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS, and to give sufferers as normal a quality of life and lifespan as possible.
An HIV pandemic broke out in the 80s, at which time it was predominantly associated with three groups of people: queer men, sex workers and drug users due to unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners and blood transfusion through sharing syringes.
This is what first got me thinking about PDS in relation to HIV. Like HIV, there is no cure to PDS, but daily medication can prevent the condition from escalating into a stage at which quality of life is dramatically decreased - the rabid stage. Since rabid PDS sufferers run a high risk of being killed, particularly in Roarton, the parallel between the fatality of reaching the final stage of PDS and HIV becoming AIDS also exists.
The central characters which suffer from PDS also demonstrate parallels with the HIV pandemic. Taking said central characters to refer to Kieren, Amy, Simon and Rick, three of the four - Kieren, Simon and Rick - are queer men, and Simon is also a former drug user. In fact, these characters’ queerness and drug use may well be regarded as the cause of their PDS:
- Simon died as a result of his drug use, administered via syringe.
- Kieren killed himself after Rick’s death - his death, and therefore his PDS, was the result of a relationship with another man.
- Rick quite possibly joined the army in an attempt to make his father proud. His card to Kieren (‘This shite with my Dad. I’ll sort it. Swear I will.’) makes it clear that his father took issue with their relationship, and his bedroom, covered in posters of half-naked women and none of half-naked men, suggests that he is uncomfortable expressing his queerness around his father. His final death is of course brought about by his father’s refusal to believe that he was himself after he disobeyed his father’s orders in defence of Kieren. It’s not a difficult stretch to assume that a motivating factor in Rick’s decision to join the military was a desire to show his father that he could be what he expected his son, as a man, to be - a desire to escape the effeminate stereotype attached to queer men. As such, it may be said that he, too, died and became a PDS sufferer as a result of his queerness.
Amy is of course not a queer man, a drug user or a sex worker, and those are not the only people vulnerable to HIV - anyone can contract it - but her association with Kieren and Simon retains the allegory. A lot of contemporary biphobia stems from the 80s HIV pandemic, when bisexual men were regarded as one of the greatest threats in terms of spreading the disease to women and then, through pregnancy and birth, to children. While Amy has sex with neither Kieren nor Simon (since they have no functioning organs or living blood cells, it’s doubtful whether cis men could become physically aroused in order to have sex at all), she romantically associates herself with them both, referring to their fantasy future weddings.
Kieren has also been confirmed by Dominic Mitchell to be bi/pansexual, and thus the allegory is strengthened by his central narrative role. It’s also notable that, despite this authorial intent, the only two people with whom he is canonically involved are male.
Series 2 also introduces a brothel - we then had references to the three types of people with which the diseased has been most commonly associated. The bigoted attitudes of the living towards PDS sufferers, the use of slurs (many homophobic slurs were coined during the 80s during the HIV pandemic) and the ‘coming out’ of sufferers through going out without their cover up mousse or contact lenses also exhibit strong parallels to attitudes surrounding HIV. Likewise, there are the misconceptions and paranoia, particularly well-exhibited by Dean being put into quarantine after being bitten (much like how people avoided touching HIV sufferers and feared that the virus could be spread by kissing).
To conclude, I’d like to insert a review left on this article:
'I have an on-line acquaintance in the UK who said something really interesting to me about seeing trailers for In The Flesh. That having Partially Deceased Syndrome sounds a lot like his experience of being HIV-positive. And as someone who is living with (and managing) a serious mental illness, it also worked for me on all kind of allegorical levels. Hell, I've never killed anyone and eaten their flesh, but I would have “incidents” where I'd lose my shit. Intellectually, I know “I wasn't rational, and I'm taking my meds and have all kinds of strategies and support to deal with the bad days” but still… it all happened. And there still plenty of people who, perfectly understandably, have that lingering edge of… anxiety. After all, he's done it before.
And for a lot of years, I could never have written that because of the stigma around mental illness. The world’s a better place in a lot of ways, but it’s sad how much misinformed fear, politicians with their own agendas and flat out tabloid lies are out there.’
I’ve heard this so many times it’s not even funny
Will there ever be a day I don’t hear this?
I’M SO CONFUSED
IS THIS AN INSIDE JOKE THAT 160K PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WTF WHERE IS THIS FROM I DON’T GET IT
the people above you literally explained the joke
Just been asked in an interview whether I was worried about playing “two gay characters???” “Why???”…”Because you run the danger of those characters being the same….”…”Cause of their sexuality?”…..”Yes”…..”They’re both white, should I be worried about that too?”….”Of course not”….”Like somehow homosexuality makes all gay people identical.. Like somehow being gay IS the character” Let me tell ye, Sexuality doesn’t define you. What makes you get out of bed in the morning defines you. That’s character. What he’s talking about is homophobia… that’s says more about his character than it does the ones I portrayed. Needless to say the interview ended.. Popcorn journalism. Marks out of ten??? Just the 1…
Emmett J. Scanlan (x)