After contracting HIV from a tainted blood treatment, young hemophiliac Ryan White is ostracized by his Kokomo, Ind., community, forcing the ailing teen and his determined mother to hire a lawyer to fight for Ryan's right to attend public school.
Ryan White became the face of AIDS in 1985. He was a 13 year old boy who was denied the right to go to school, because he had AIDS. Back then, people didn't know that AIDS was relatively hard to contract and that you couldn't get it from casual contact. When this young High School boy tried to attend school, in Kokomo Indiana, the towns people fought back. The hatred and torture this family had to go through was utterly shocking and eerily similar to the plight of the first African American students, who tried to attend all white schools. Lukas Haas stars as White in this 1989 film. Even 5 years later, there was still a major stigma attached to AIDS and it must have been an extremely difficult role to play. Judith Light, of Who's The Boss Fame, plays his mother. As is the case with most of these made for TV films, she was pretty good, but gave a performance that was way over the top. Being made for TV, especially in the 80s, films had to be extremely toned down. They would make up for what they couldn't show, by really playing on your emotions and really pushing these over the top performances, to the point where they become almost laughable. The cast is rounded out by the legendary George C. Scott who plays White's attorney, a man who took the case for free and gained none of the recognition that he deserved. Finally, White himself makes a cameo as another AIDS patient in the pediatric wing. Today, we don't see many people in the final stages of AIDS, as people with the disease can now live for 20-30 years without complications. To see this young kid with his pale skin, weighing about 100 pounds, featuring lesions on his face, and showing everyone his feeding tube was truly heartbreaking. Sometimes it takes the most unlikely of heroes to open up the minds of the public. Ryan White never made it out of his teenage years, but was still a man of tremendous courage who will be remembered and honored for generations to come.moreless
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