Movie Review: John Q

For the movie review project I chose the film John Q. John Q tells the story of a black family living in Chicago in the year 2000. John Q, the father of the family has a hard time keeping the funds up for his family to be able to pay all of their bills so they have troubles with paying their rent and even end up getting their car repossessed. John Q and his wife have a son, Michael, who ends up collapsing during a baseball game and going into heart failure in which he would need a heart transplant to correct the problem. Unfortunately, the family’s health insurance doesn’t cover the operation so the parents find themselves in a bind trying to figure out a way to come up with the money for the transplant. John tries to find a second job and he and his wife begin to sell many of their belongings to try and come up with the money, when they realize they won’t be able to get the money john Q takes the hospital emergency room hostage in hopes of trying to force the hospital to perform the transplant for his son. I chose this movie for the project because it relates really well with the idea of a person’s race or ethnicity having an impact on their health. John Q and his family are black, live in a poor area of Chicago and constantly have money troubles because John and his wife both don’t make enough money to be able to have all of their basic human needs met.

John and his wife are both part time workers which effects some of the benefits they are able to receive when it comes to health care. Since their insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the operation and they have to pay for it in cash, the hospital administration tells them they have to have a down payment of 75,000 dollars before their sons name can even go on the transplant list. It’s basically a race against time after this point because every day Michael’s heart becomes weaker and he comes closer to dying. Becoming desperate, John locks himself and a gun in the emergency room along with everyone else that is in it not to actually cause any harm to anyone but just to get his voice heard that he needs help. Eventually the story is on every news channel and there are cops and reporters outside of the hospital by the end of the day to try and talk to john and get him to surrender. John’s story of his dying son gets out to where many people can see the situation and many people begin to think of him as a hero, a good man who would go to great lengths to fight for what he feels his sons deserves which is access to health care in order to keep him from dying. John actually befriends the majority of the people he is holding hostage in the emergency room and they want to help him as well.

In this class we have discussed many times that even though we don’t always realize it, a person’s “race” or ethnicity can have a lot to do with their health. Even though we have concluded that race is a social construct and does not exist, John and his family are African American and therefore are considered the minority here in America. According to professor Cynthia Gabriel, “Our genes and ethnicity effects our health because our lived experiences as someone in a dominant group or in a group that experiences discrimination, or in a group that experiences unequal access to resources absolutely impacts our health” (Gabriel 2016). Professor Gabriel also states that it has something to do with living with black skin in American society that changes these health outcomes. The fact that John and his wife are unable to afford this health care for their son is ultimately a social issue. There is a part in the movie where john sees a White man and His wife leaving the hospital joking around and laughing with the hospital administrator and the man has just received a new heart and is asking when he will be able to play tennis again. John gets frustrated at how easy they have it while he’s trying as hard as he can to even find money for the down payment. Professor Gabriel states that illness is about a person’s experience, she states that it is the way a person experiences bodily malfunctions not just the biological facts, but it includes sociocultural context in which the illness is meaningful to the person and to his or her family and community (Gabriel 2016). Michael’s illness has a big impact on his family as well as his community as they see when his dad holds up the hospital what exactly they are all going through. This film would be a good edition to this course in the future because it depicts what could be a real life situation for a minority family in America. There should be programs implemented that could lessen situations like this, nobody should have to lose their life if there is a way to cure them, just because they don’t have the money to pay for the medicine or surgery. This movie was good and very touching. In the end of the movie John Q was finally able to get his voice heard and even though they didn’t have the money he fought hard enough to where the hospital decided to put his sons name on the donor list. A heart became available in time and Michael was able to live because his dad fought so hard for what they needed.

Understanding Race and Ethnicity in Medicine. Directed by Cynthia Gabriel. 2016. Accessed August 15, 2016. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp370-us16/lecture-videos/understanding-race-and-ethnicity-in-medicine/.

Culture, Health, Illness: Introduction. Directed by Cynthia Gabriel. 2016. Accessed August 15, 2016. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp370-us16/lecture-videos/culture-health-illness-introduction/.

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