AIDS became WHAT?!
In the 1980s, America and much of the world were dealing with the mysterious, horrific, and fatal AIDS epidemic. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, soon became one of the most politicized diseases in history. Initially believed to only afflict gay members of the population, it was years before the American government even acknowledged the existence of the disease and the lives it was taking. Although AIDS has since been identified and treatments have been discovered, needless to say, it was a significant time in not only American history but in world history.
Even if you don’t know much about AIDS, you’ve probably heard of the Broadway musical RENT. The play tells the story of a group of friends living in New York City in the early 1990s, many of whom are dealing with an AIDS diagnosis. Because of the political nature of the disease and its stigmatic affiliation with gay men and drug users, it should be easy to see why it’s such a significant part of the plot of the musical.
Despite its significance to the plot and message of the show, apparently AIDS was just too political for one high school. They decided to put on the controversial musical, while taking out all of the controversy. Not cool.
The silver lining? The school’s absurd decision to remove AIDS from the story lead to some pretty awkward and hilarious changes. Needless to say, Twitter is going wild for it.
A Significant Switch
One Twitter user, Chelsea Fagan, had a conversation with a bartender that was too interesting to keep to herself. So she took to Twitter to share what she heard. “The other day a bartender told me his high school did a performance of RENT where they couldn’t say AIDS so all the characters had diabetes,” Chelsea tweeted. She added that instead of taking breaks to take an AIDS medication, AZT, “apparently the characters took ‘insulin breaks.’”
For a play that revolves largely around AIDS, it would be significantly difficult to avoid it without some major rewrites. Even though Chelsea didn’t share many details about how the high schoolers worked around AIDS, the helpful users of Twitter were happy to come up with some edits of their own.
“Excuse me if I’m off track. But if you’re so wise. Then tell me, why do you need snacks?” wrote user ZechHarvey, changing a line where a character asks a woman with AIDS why she needs “smack.” Another user, elenawonders, joked, “i should tell you — i’ve got type two too.” User DrewLudwig wrote, “Sexually transmitted diabetes.”
Twitter users also brought to light that this isn’t the only time high school productions have written out social issues in an effort to make plays more “kid friendly.” In fact, others spoke up that their schools had attempted to work with RENT too.
High School Musicals
“Someone once told me their school did it and Maureen and Joanne were just ‘really good friends,’” wrote user chloeedwards__, referring to a gay and bi women who dated each other in RENT. “A friend’s high school had to remove all the sex references,” wrote user meganriordan. So instead of “sodomy,” the line “became ‘monogamy, it’s between God and me.’”
“In our high school production of Fame, instead of coming out as gay, a character came out as impotent,” wrote user TheDickWard. “I worked at a theatre camp where the (almost entirely white) kids were determined to do Hairspray, so teacher made it about height not race,” wrote kitlovelace.
One even recounted a high school that attempted to use brownface to put on a play. “My old (very white) high school program did in the heights…….. they spray tanned the cast……………” wrote user meredithawilcox.
Just when you think it can’t get more sanitized, user notkelseyleigh writes, “One time in a church Christmas musical, someone was offended by the word ‘rabies’ so we had to change it to ‘babies.’ It still confuses me.”
What do you think of this high school’s attempt to write AIDS out of RENT? Has your high school ever done something similar? Let us know in the comments and SHARE this article!