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Magic Johnson & AIDS

The artifact to be analyzed is Magic Johnson, the basketball player and businessman. The meaning of this artifact has changed several times in recent years, with the biggest change coming in the shift from basketball hero to basketball-hero-with-AIDS. Indeed, the artifact is now as closely identified with the AIDS problem as with basketball. Magic Johnson was well-established prior to that time as a basketball hero in Los Angeles, one of the major players in the game, and he was in fact still part of the game when he made his announcement concerning his HIV status. This announcement had a major impact on the consciousness of the public for several reasons, showing how important the artifact is in our culture. Johnson stated that he was HIV positive and that he would retire from basketball as a result. The revelation was a shock to the public. First, Magic Johnson was a well-known and well-loved sports figure whose illness would create sympathy no matter what that illness was. Second, the mere fact that a sports figure, expected to be the picture of health, would contract such a disease was a shock. Third, the fact that the disease was AIDS and was fatal was a further shock. Those who commented on the issue all noted a further and very important reason for public consternation: AIDS is a disease that happens to "bad" people and that can never happen to someone well known, wealthy, healthy, and essentially "one of us." The infection of Magic Johnson challenged these assumptions and made the public reconsider its attitudes as well as its own careless behavior.

Johnson's withdrawal from basketball created one level of concern and one level of meaning. His return to basketball created new levels of meanings and did so in stages as he took various jobs to be part of the game--he was coach, he was an announcer, and he was an owner of the team for a time. His return to the basketball court after an absence of five seasons ear...

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Magic Johnson & AIDS. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:06, July 01, 2022, from