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Bright Eyes

Stuart Marshall

1984
1 hour 18 minutes

‘The programme is about the current threats to the gay community. The misrepresentation in the media that AIDS is a “gay disease” rather than a new disease from which gays, amongst others, are suffering. But it doesn’t look at the medical issues so much as the social and political climate in which the illness is being presented to the public as a means of control. That’s why it also looks at police harrassment and entrapment of gays, and the Customs raids and seizure of books from “Gay’s the Word”.

Headlines on AIDS like “Gay Plague” resurrect 19th century medical notions that homosexuality itself was a disease, whilst “Wrath of God” articles play on even older prejudices of sinfulness and guilt. To dissect such ideas I wanted to show their historical roots, how medical science was used to oppress gays in Victorian England and in Nazi Germany. History informs the present but most TV erases history. And moral panics are built on stereotypes.

People get hung up about mixing forms like “drama-documentary” and about authenticity and objectivity. TV uses “realism’ as if it were the truth, but the real issue is to ask “who is the programme addressing?” and “who’s interest is being served by it?” I didn’t set out to prove a point or make a definitive statement. I leave the audience asking questions.’

Extract from magazine interview with Stuart Marshall. 1984.