Dustin Kight

Did you know we live in a "post-AIDS" world?

Filed By Dustin Kight | August 25, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living, Media
Tags: Beverly Hills, Doug Savant, HIV/AIDS, Melrose Place, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infections, STDs, STIs, Todd Slavkin, Victor Webster

Apparently the Beverly Hills: 90210 revival is going well. What else can explain its sister revival of Melrose Place?

The CW is bringing Melrose Place, 90210's sleezy, later-night sibling, back to television on Tuesday, September 8th. Gay fans of the original series will be glad to know that, among other things, the (then pioneering) gay 4616MelrosePlace.jpgslot filled by actor Doug Savant is being re-filled by the significantly beefier Victor Webster, albeit in a much different role.

Webster, a former Playgirl model, will play Caleb Brewer, the "non-stereotypical gay character" who, according to executive producer Todd Slavkin, is a "very masculine guy, smokes cigars, likes the Los Angeles Lakers, collects sports memorabilia, drinks Scotch, likes guys and is not afraid to admit it."

Well thank God for that! Thank God, also, that, according to Slavkin, Melrose Place 2.0 is taking place in a "post-AIDS" world.

That's right, the executive producer of the show wants people to rest assured that the gay men are less girly, the girls are more girl-on-girl friendly, and that in general the characters will be rougher, raunchier, and much less concerned about extinct sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS.

From an E! Online interview posted earlier this week:

The other twentysomething tenants (and some "wickedly sexy" guests) aren't wearing purity rings, either. "We feel that there is a current sexual revolution going on. Kind of post-AIDS--where the boundaries are off. Their parents have been shackled, and they want to explore," [said Slavkin] Kids! [said the clearly socially responsible E! Online.

Guess I don't have to go to work at an AIDS service organization tomorrow. Guess the research showing that HIV infection rates are actually going up again for gays, bisexuals and men who have sex with men is flat wrong. I'll call my colleagues in the prevention department, tell them to pack up and go home...

At a time when 56,000 people in the US are infected with HIV each year, it's appalling that Slavkin would promote his E-list show by waving away HIV/AIDS and, frankly, all other STIs. I mean, really, what decade is he living in? Did he even have to say that in order to convince people that the show would be inhumanly sexy?

I don't know if Slavkin is gay, himself, but if he is he should be especially ashamed of himself. Much of the reason my generation of gays, bisexuals and MSM is getting infected is because facts about the virus and prevention messages aren't reaching them anymore. No one needs a hot, new CW show propagating these myths. And I'm betting the dishonesty and infidelity inherent in these shows won't address infections of unknowing partners. But I guess they could always prove me wrong.

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That sucks that they think it is ok to act like HIV isn't an issue. Didn't watch the original, won't watch the replay. I'm glad that the gay guy will be a different perspective from usual entertainment views.

In all fairness, how often do you see straight characters fumbling with a condom before they get it on. You want gay portrayed as normally as straight ones on TV? Well, here you go. Granted, the executive producer's a bonehead for declaring this in such a careless way, but anyone looking to Melrose Place to deliver realistic, progressive, socially responsible messages, is nuttier than all the drug and spouse abusing residents who live there.

I like to live my life now as if it is "post AIDS". Whose responsibility is it today for all the younger people who happen to be adults and have safe sex? Yeah that's right... YOUR OWN!! STOP WHINING. A television sitcom is a fictional piece no matter how shitty it is. Murder and mayhem are on television 24/7 too. Do you need a class for someone to tell you that is not recommended behavior?

"Post-AIDS" doesn't equal "No AIDS." It means "after AIDS." I actually think it's a useful term to differentiate those who were born into a world with HIV & AIDS vs. those who were already alive and saw it develop. And the truth is that the generation that can't remember a time before AIDS does have different attitudes towards sexual risk-taking than those of us who saw the epidemic hit. I think a real examination of the post-AIDS generation and their attitudes would reveal useful information about why the same old prevention messages aren't working with them.

"Post-HAART" will also become increasingly relevant, as a new generation comes of age that not only doesn't know a world before AIDS, but also doesn't know a world where people were dying in huge numbers. Those of us who have been around for the long haul can get indignant and preachy, and thereby continue being ineffective, or we can adjust to the new reality and find new ways to reach these young people.

Of course, this particular exec likely isn't considering any of this, but his comments are still telling as a reflection of the culture.

To paraphrase Barney Frank ... what planet does this series take place on?

Oh, I didn't realize there was a whole planet called "Andrew Sullivan" ...

It's a fictional planet, you say? Well, that makes a bit more sense.

@A.J. Lopp - Can you be a bit more clear about what you mean when you say, "Oh, I didn't realize there was a whole planet called "Andrew Sullivan" ..." Just wanting to understand the insinuation about him.

A few years ago, Andrew Sullivan claimed that for American, educated, white, and upwardly-mobile gay white men "AIDS is over" --- meaning that HAART therapy renders HIV/AIDS unnecessary for us to worry about.

Besides being elistist, I'd like him to have to explain that face-to-face to about 5 million orphans in Africa, and to groups such as WHO, the UN, and numerous NGO's that attempt to care for these youngsters ...

... not to mention several million African-Americans, male and female, here in the USA who are HIV-impacted in a culture that, to this day, continues to largely ignore and/or deny the epidemic surrounding them.

By being so blunt, he set himself up as a lightning rod --- but actually, he is hardly that much worse than all the others who want to pretend that HIV-AIDS has evaporated into thin air.

There is so much discussion on the controversy that his comment precipitated that I can hardly offer you one particular link. Google the search string <<< Andrew Sullivan "AIDS Is Over" >>> and you will get about 500 references.

Fiction is free to engage in any setting it pleases.

I'm pleased by this new gay character. I've been desiring a horny, traditional guy type of gay, because there's not be one so far. I want a gay man represented fairly in the same way straight men are shown to express lust and desire. I want a gay man to be just as able to have some guy walk by, look at him, take a breath, and say "damn, that's a fine piece of ass", just like straight men have been able to.

I want a self-indulgent, masculine casanova type of gay. Let's hope they don't disappoint.

Having lived through the 1980's and early 1990's
when 70% of my cloest friends died of AIDS, I find
this "post-AIDS" attitude quite unsettling. I
remember a time when AIDS was a death sentence.
I can remember a time when on a weekly basis
LGBT publications had numerous obituaries of individuals who had died of AIDS.

With all the new drugs, infection with the HIV
virus can be controlled and is no longer an
immediate death sentence. The very smart ads by
the drugs companies, many in LGBT publications,
give the false impression that one should not be
concerned. They seems to say that if one is
infected with HIV all one has to do is take
some drugs and all with be fine.

I personally know a number of individuals who
are HIV positive and can see how being HIV
positive has greatly affected their daily lives.