Film Analysis on “Letters from Generation RX”


Film Notes and Film Analysis: Letters from Generation Rx

    The history of making documentaries is “well-documented,” but this history may seem more of an evolution. A fairly modern description of the documentary is to tell a story by showing without clear boundaries of creation (see Barnouw, 1993). The documentary medium has been used as a vehicle for recollecting historical events, addressing social concerns, describing animal behavior, and making observations from everyday life. While all of these purposes are still portrayed by documentaries, there has been a shift in focus, as many (but not all) modern documentaries take the creative license to “tell while showing” the film that gets captured. The involvement of the filmmaker is much more involved these days, and the justification of such documentaries to manipulate the environment (or the subjects being observed) can be justified in three relatively current subgenres of the modern, observational documentary:

Participatory: Very much like a phenomenological psychological study, the filmmaker deliberately modifies the events of the work to tell a clear story. This has been described as “ cinéma vérité,” or “real truth” extracted from actual reality.

Reflexive: Regardless of manipulation, how does a documentary serve as a truth within the real world? What general themes are seen as allegories to the story that is being told in a documentary. These are the major goals of this form, which attempts to get the viewer to introspect about what has been seen and told.

Performative: The ultimate goal is from this subgenre is to get a personal/emotional reaction to the work that is presented on the screen.

    When Kevin Miller set out to make Letters from Generation Rx, he specifically wanted to create a phenomenological study that provided a perspective that opposed norms about psychotropic medication availability in the United States. It should be noted that this perspective may vary considerably from your own opinion about the pharmaceutical industry and various medical fields (e.g., psychiatry) who heavily endorse a multibillion (and approaching a (gasp) multitrillion) industry. Form your own opinions when making judgements about this rather polarizing topic, as there are many sides to stories that documentaries tell.

  •     While documentaries use scientific evidence, they often are subject to a process called confirmation bias, in which one selects the information the supports one’s viewpoint and rejects contradictory information. A documentary, like any film, needs a direction when telling a story, but the dangers in documentaries as being 100% true is somewhat of a myth. In this course, you are intended to form your own opinions based on the scientific literature that you explore, and each of you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Thus, the goal of this next writing assignment is to gauge how truthful you think this documentary is. All of you are likely to find some truth from what is being shown to you, but how much of the message do you choose to believe? Your writing assignment will be an exploration of how you view Letters from Generation Rx. The following are elements of your film analysis:

Introduction: Begin your essay with your perspective of the pharmaceutical industry from both a pro- and anti-stance (in other words, demonstrate a general understanding between both sides of this issue. You may include some secondary sources to back up your understanding but these a.) should not substitute for primary sources (see below) and b.) should be cited and referenced along proper guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA), 7th edition. You then should describe the impact (positive and negative) that documentaries have when they do lean to once side of a debated topic. You then should state your assertion about Letters from Generation Rx, mentioning how valid the documentary is.

  • Evidence for Validity (or lack thereof) within the Film: In your introduction, you assert how valid (or pointed) the documentary is, so this section is intended to support your assertion. Basically, you are going to find articles that support, refute, or do both regarding the film content. It is fine to say that some areas of the film are well-supported and some areas are not, but you must back up your claims with literature. Also, it should be noted that the film is using information prior to 2017 (as it takes a long time to film a documentary, so much of the data is likely from before 2010), so it would be a good idea to find current literature when supporting your assertions. When linking the film to your sources (at least four primary sources, and one can be the film), you must provide adequate detail and provide linking statements between your sources. As with any source, you should cite based on APA guidelines.

Conclusion: Based on the content of the film, you must conclude your paper by speculating where you think the pharmaceutical trade will be in the next 20 years. Provide three detailed predictions about how the state of mental health and medication as a primary treatment will be different in two decades (which will be fodder for the next probing drug documentary? ). Provide enough detail that displays objective yet predictive critical thought.

  • References: Please place all sources in proper American Psychological Association (APA). guidelines (using the 7th edition of the manual).

Your assignment should be at least 2000 words (which, double-spaced, 12-pt font, normal margins is just over 5 pages). It will be evaluated by a rubric that covers the following:

a.) Introduction: How well are you demonstrating the power of socially-pointed media? Do you provide an effective preliminary link between your introduction a lead into film (and what it represents)? (Worth 15 points).

b.) Behavioral Analysis: How well are you critiquing the film based on empirical literature? How well are you demonstrating how actual scientific research either validates or refutes (or both) the documentary? Are you linking your sources effectively? All sources should be cited properly in APA format (worth a total of 50 points). As mentioned above, you must include four primary sources (three from journals, one from the film) (worth a total of 50 points)

c.) Conclusion: How well does your conclusion pvoide a sound prediction for what will happen to the drug industry (consumers and producers) in the next 20 years? Do you have enough detail for these predictions? If you use any sources in your conclusion, then they must again be in APA format (15 points). 

d.) Reference Section: Are you citing and referencing along the guidelines of the American Psychological Association (7th Ed)) (worth a total of 20 points)?

Film Analysis on “Letters from Generation RX”

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