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Virus Culture

Jeffrey Weinstock
Studies in popular Culture 20.1, 1997
ISSN 0888-5753
April 1997

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The observation that "laughter is contagious" is a familiar one. However, currently on Route 66 in Virginia, commuters are advised by an illuminated road-side placard that "Safe driving is contagious." A recent television advertisement for a computer game encapsulated its product with the slogan, "Its not just a game, its an infection." Wolfgang Peterson's 1995 movie Outbreak begins with the dramatic assertion, from the suitably scientific and imposing "Joshua Lederberg, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate," that "The single biggest threat to man's continued domination of the planet is the virus." Miko D. Grmek, in his text History of AIDS, characterizes AIDS as the preeminent metaphor "express[ing] our era" (xii). The following warning has circulated repeatedly across computer bulletin boards and discussion groups throughout the world and will be familiar to most e-mail users

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