Tag Archives: 2019

Eugenics: Are You a Follower and Just Don’t Recognize It?

But this year something was added to the Kansas Free State Fair, something Americans had never seen before: a competition judging human beings, both as individuals and as family units. The resemblance to the evaluation of cows and pigs in the livestock contests might have seemed jarring to some. But with the blossoming of “science,” new fields like psychology, phrenology, and physiology promising to take the mysteries of man and make them knowable, this new contest certainly seemed wholly appropriate to its organizers.
—Anna Derrell, The Women of Reform: Kansas Eugenics (2014)

Before breaking for Summer 2019, Movies on Chatham has one more film to research under our History of Medicine theme: The Eugenics Crusade (PBS, 2018).

This documentary presents a surprising part of US history unfamiliar to most Americans — a national preoccupation with eugenics from the late 19th century to its climax in the 1920s.

During the 20th century some very questionable acts — and some, outright heinous — were committed against humanity in the name of eugenics, both in the US and in other countries. In this overview article, we show current examples that may fit within the eugenics concept. The question is, is eugenics alive and well in the US today? You be the judge. Continue reading Eugenics: Are You a Follower and Just Don’t Recognize It?

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Yellow Jack Vaccine: Victory without Clinical Trial

In its reconnaissance on medical-themed films, Movies on Chatham dug deep in time to pluck a 1938 movie out of obsolescence. Uncovering this gem of a movie, Yellow Jack (Seitz, 1938) — apart from its value in portraying an event in the history of  medicine — allows us to learn about Walter Reed as a person, not just the name of a military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland (“About Us – Walter Reed”, 2019).

Map of Cuba showing Spanish-American War battle sites
Map of Cuba showing Spanish-American War battle sites

Yellow Jack tells the story of a group of doctors and scientists, Dr. Reed among them, who travel to Cuba after the Spanish-American War1,2 hoping to find a cure for “yellow fever,” a hemorrhagic virus that is ravaging the population there. Continue reading Yellow Jack Vaccine: Victory without Clinical Trial

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Facing Darkness with “Bigly” Persuasion

Not having traveled to a country in the middle of a medical crisis, I can only imagine the horror and heartbreak. Yet, through our movie this month, Facing Darkness (Rasco, 2017), we can have first-hand experience with the 2014 crisis in Liberia when the Ebola virus was rampant. Members of a US medical team become infected over the course of the movie.

In 2019, Africans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are facing similar crises. And, because of their cultural experiences, locals are suspicious about the motives of aid workers, thus resist taking action that would help to contain the disease. In a mass delusion, their minds work against them, just like all of our minds do, to avoid changing what they have come to believe. Masters of persuasion understand this. Continue reading Facing Darkness with “Bigly” Persuasion

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Dead Ringers: Mayhem, Malpractice, and Mortality

twins: dead ringers
The 1977 New York Times bestseller on which Dead Ringers is based

David Cronenberg’s movie, Dead Ringers (1988), tells the story of the malpractice and mayhem created by twin New York City doctors in the 1970s. It is also the story of vulnerable patients, brilliant practitioners who self-medicate, organizational collusion and cover-up, and untimely deaths.

All of these elements combine to take us on a journey of horror that was first widely publicized in the news, then fictionalized in Twins: Dead Ringers (Wood & Geasland, 1977), the book on which the movie is based. A New York Times bestseller, it is described on its back cover as “An authentic shocker .  .  . a novel of eerie power . . .”

How Could Dead Ringers Be Anything But a Horror Movie?

Cinema, in its long history, has often paired themes of medicine with the horror genre—the mad scientist, experiments gone awry, perverse caregivers, frightening instruments, Continue reading Dead Ringers: Mayhem, Malpractice, and Mortality

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Catherine Deneuve on ‘The Midwife’: Don’t analyze It!

Cinema is the reflection of life. That is a fact of society. It is not just cinema. It’s like that in life.
—Catherine Deneuve, quoted by Aftab in The Independent

How ironic it is that Movies on Chatham has chosen The Midwife (2017) as a vehicle for analysis and understanding, while, according to Kaleem Aftab (2017), its French star Catherine Deneuve, suggests it’s “just a story.” Continue reading Catherine Deneuve on ‘The Midwife’: Don’t analyze It!

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