You will be writing a 6 page term paper analyzing a film from the list below. You will be analyzing the accuracy of how the movie presents a particular social problem. A movie is like a carnival mirror; they provide a reflection of society, but this reflection may be distorted in a variety of ways. Using sociological research you will discuss which aspects of the social problem the film reflects accurately and which aspects it distorts, as well as important aspects of the social problem that the film ignores. The following is a general guide on how the writing assignment should be approached.
I. Choose one of the following movies. Keep in mind that you have to apply a sociological perspective to understand a specific social problem presented by the film. You should pick one that you enjoy, but also pick one that deals with a social problem that interests you. Following each movie is the issue (or issues) which I see as being most predominant, in terms of sociological relevance, to help you decide on a movie.
15 Minutes- Violence in the Media
The Accused- Rape
The Adjustment Bureau – The Iron Cage of Rationality (difficult)
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore- Domestic Violence
American Beauty- Alienation, the family
American History X- Hate Groups, racism
American Psycho- Materialism/ Consumerism
Angela’s Ashes- Poverty
Arlington Road- Terrorism
Avatar – Global Inequality/ Environmental Degradation
Bamboozled- Racism in the cultural media
Ben is Back- Drug Addiction
The Big Short – Finance Capitalism
The Bird Cage- Homophobia
Boy Erased – Conversion Therapy/ Homophobia
Boys Don’t Cry- Homophobia against Lesbians (Actually, transgendered male)
The Brave One – Crime
Chicken Run- Work, Exploitation
Children of Men – Immigration/ Ethnocentrism
A Clockwork Orange- Subculture of Masculinity
The Contender- Sexism in the Political System
A Cool, Dry Place- Single-Parent Families
Cradle Will Rock- Political Freedom
Crazy Heart – Alcoholism
CSA: The Confederate States of America- Racism
Dallas Buyer’s Club – HIV/AIDS
Day Night Day Night – Terrorism
Dead Man Walking- Capital Punishment
District 9- Segregation
Dogma- Racism, Classism, and Sexism in Organized Religion (difficult)
ED Tv- culture, surveillance
Elephant- School Violence
Elysium- Class Stratification
Erin Brokovich- Corporate Crime
Fast Food Nation – Food Production
Fight Club- Alienation, Materialism, Subculture of Masculinity
The Fisher King- Homelessness
Flawless- Homophobia against gays (Again, actually transgendered female)
Freedom Writers- Education
Fruitvale Station – Race/ Police Profiling and Harassment
The Full Monty- Economy
G.I. Jane- Sexism in the military
Girl, Interrupted – Medical and Psychiatric Social Control/ Mental Illness
Gone Baby Gone- Child Neglect
Good Will Hunting- Higher Education, Classism
The Hate U Give – Violence by Law Enforcement
Henry Poole is Here – Alienation
Hotel Rowanda- Ethnic Intolerance, Genocide
The Insider- Corporate America
Into the Wild – Homelessness
Juno – Teenage Pregnancy
The Kids are All Right – Nontraditional Family Forms
Leave No Trace- Homelessness
Little Children – Child Abuse
Magnolia- Problems of the Family
Matrix- Social Control, Surveillance (difficult)
Michael Clayton- Corporate Crime
Milk – Sexual Discrimination
The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Conversion Therapy/ Homophobia
The Namesake- Immigration
Nightcrawler – Media Ethics/Sensationalism
North Country- Sexual Harassment
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest- Medical Social Control
Patch Adams- Medical Institution
Philadelphia- AIDS, Homophobia
Precious – Poverty
Princess Mononoke- Environmental Issues
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert- Homophobia
A Private War- War
The Rainmaker- Private Health Insurance
Requiem for a Dream- Drug Abuse
A Scanner Darkly – Drug Abuse
Schindler’s List- Ethnic Intolerance, Genocide
Selma – Racism
The Shawshank Redemption- The Prison System
The Siege- Terrorism
Sleepers- Juveniles in the Criminal Justice System
A Time to Kill- Race, Criminal Justice
Up in the Air – Downsizing, Alienation
V for Vendetta- Terrorism
The Virgin Suicides- Suicide
Wall Street- American capitalism
We Need To Talk About Kevin- School Violence
Whistleblower – Human Trafficking
Winter’s Bone – Rural Poverty
Wolf on Wall Street — American Capitalism
World Trade Center — Terrorism
Zootopia — Racism
2. Once you decide on which movie you wish to write about, let me know. I will keep a list of the movies on which you will sign your name beside your choice. Only two students may do each movie, so first come first serve.
3. You are responsible for writing a six (6) page paper in which you apply a sociological perspective in analyzing the content of the movie and the larger social problem which it touches on.
Grades will be assigned on a percentage scale. This will be adjusted to a 300 point scale, for purposes of entry into the gradebook. Papers will be scored down for content deficiencies, format problems, and grammatical and spelling errors which are severe enough to make comprehension difficult. Late papers will not be accepted under any circumstances, and will be given a zero.
High scoring papers will be those that provide nuanced discussions of the cultural notions contained within the films, include specific details from the films to support their arguments, and are well cited. High scoring papers are those that move beyond simple comparisons and contrasts between the film and research, and instead uses them to articulate the difference between pop cultural and scientific explanations of social problems.
Content Requirements for the Paper:
A) You should analyze each of the major social problems addressed in the movie (as listed above) from a sociological perspective. Your grade relies heavily on demonstrating your understanding of the sociological perspective. As said before, you should analyze how the movie portrays the problem as well as how it exists in society.
B) You must discuss both specific detailed moments within the film and the broader issues being touched on. Your ability to articulate these points and move back and forth between these two levels will influence your grade.
C) Sociology is a science and therefore based on empiricism. All sociological research has to be embedded within the existing sociological research. You must use at least two sociological sources to aid in your analysis of the movies. Use your textbook as well, but it will not count as a required source. Sources must be of the following types: 1) an article from an academic peer-reviewed sociological journal. 2) an article using a sociological perspective from a specialized academic peer-reviewed journal (such as a medical journal, or business journal). 3) An academic book which deals with the topic in a sociological manner. Any source must be a minimum of 15 pages long.
***Sources that cannot be used: Pop magazines such as Newsweek and Time. Newspapers like the New York Times. Research articles that have not been peer reviewed. Random webpages, especially those by advocacy groups. Book reviews. Opinion pieces or editorials. Articles about the movies you are analyzing. Wikipedia (citing wikipedia is an automatic 5% deduction).
A failure to include an academic source results in a 15% deduction for each required source. If you are having difficulty finding an appropriate source, feel free to ask me for help.
Format Requirements for the Paper:
A) The paper should be six pages long. It will be counted as a full six pages if you make it past the halfway point on the sixth page. That means the sixth page has to have at least twelve lines. There will be a 16.5% deduction for each page short. Note: This means that if the paper is five pages and eleven lines, it will receive an automatic 16.5% deduction.
B) The paper should be typed and will not be accepted if hand written.
C) You must include a separate title page providing all the usually information. Failure to include one results in an automatic 5% deduction. The space between the top of the first page and when the paper actually begins will be subtracted when determining paper length.
D) Pages should be numbered. Failure to do so will result in an automatic 5% deduction for each.
E) The paper should be double spaced throughout the paper. Do not have extra spacing in between paragraphs. Note: Extra spacing between paragraphs is now part of the default settings in Microsoft Word and will need to be changed.
F) The paper should be in 12 pt. type and Times New Roman font. Note: Again, these are no longer the default settings on Microsoft Word and will need to be changed.
G) The paper should have 1 inch margins on all sides, including top and bottom. This means 1”. If there is any question on whether you have the correct setting, print out a copy of your paper and physically measure the margins.
Deviations from these format requirements will be taken in consideration in determining the paper’s length. For example, using a different font can turn a 4 page paper into a six page paper, and therefore would result in a 33% deduction.
H) You should include in text citations and/or endnotes, and a bibliography. Sorry, the endnotes and bibliography do not count as part of your six pages.
I) Please do not use a folder, binder, or plastic sleeves to hold your paper. Just staple the pages together.
J) Anything beyond six pages will not be read, and the paper will be graded accordingly.