Navigation Links
Children with asthma marginalized in movies, says Rutgers-Camden researcher

CAMDEN This summer, superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman, and even Snow White will showcase their staggering strengths on the big screen.

A RutgersCamden professor says that children with asthma are the real-life superheroes, facing down breathlessness and operating life-saving devices whenever and wherever asthma attacks strike.

Cindy Dell Clark, who teaches anthropology at RutgersCamden, recently published research that analyzes Hollywood's portrayal of children with asthma in the journal Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

According to Clark, Hollywood often depicts children with asthma, the leading chronic illness of U.S. children, as vulnerable characters, not heroes. Showcasing asthma as a form of weakness adds drama to action films and levity to comedies. The habit of stereotyping asthma in movies, her research suggests, should be rethought by Hollywood and its writers.

Clark says the media, as well as other social contexts like school and peers, matter significantly for how the 9% of Americans under 18 with asthma view their illness and commit to its treatment. Adherence to medication for severe asthma, which requires steady attention and consistent relationships with physicians to monitor symptoms, can fall short among children and adolescents.

"Asthma is not a telethon disease," Clark quotes a mother of a child with asthma in her studies. "People don't understand the nature of a child suffering with asthma," adds the RutgersCamden researcher. "As a society, we don't want to pay attention; we don't want to face up to the fact that inhaling the air around us, including polluted air, can impede breathing and sometimes life."

In her research, 66 films that dramatized asthma were analyzed, including Goonies, Toy Story 2, As Good As It Gets, Signs, and Without A Paddle. The analysis revealed four main ways of stereotyping asthma: implying that the character with asthma is wimpy; that asthmatic breathing is how a person with asthma reacts under stress; that if a child would just exert enough willpower, asthma can be overcome; and in a couple of movies, that the character can attack their enemies through asthma, such as using an inhaler as a weapon.

"None of these stereotypes have medical backing," notes Clark, who points out that when asthmatic children experience an attack, time and again remain calm. For instance, children have to convince the teacher that they need to get their inhaler (from the school nurse), all while calmly enduring poor breathing until they obtain relief. "If asthma was so widely psychosomatic, as movies imply, it would not be so pronounced in geographic areas of extreme air pollution," she adds.

To learn how children react to movie scenes with asthma, Clark interviewed children ages 9-12, including kids with asthma and kids who were the best friends of asthmatic children. Clark's research shows that stereotypes in movies do influence healthy kids to believe that asthma is stress-induced, even though their asthmatic friend shows otherwise. The research also showed that children with asthma resented the way their illness was depicted and worried that what they saw was a harbinger of stigma and unfair treatment.

The RutgersCamden researcher says that asthmatics' use in movie narratives has been a plot element as early as 1943 in the film Song of Bernadette. She's also seen several movies and television shows utilizing asthmatic stereotypes since her study was concluded.

"Asthma is an extremely common and very frightening condition. My own ethnographic research shows the troubles and necessary courage children with asthma have. It is too bad that movie scripts fall back on a lazy writer's stereotype so often, and depict asthma as worth being stigmatized."

Contact: Cathy Donovan
Rutgers University

Related medicine news :

1. Save the Children report shows global health funding often ignores newborn babies
2. Illnesses in Colorado childrens hospital prompts discovery of contaminated alcohol pads
3. Avatars may help children with social anxiety overcome fears
4. Despite less play, childrens use of imagination increases over 2 decades
5. Chemicals in PVC Flooring Can Be Absorbed Into Childrens Bodies: Study
6. Routine care for Crohns disease in children should include measurement of bone age
7. New initiative aims to increase mobility for disabled children worldwide
8. Children failing asthma therapy may have severe asthma with fungal sensitization
9. Baseline characteristics of children with mild persistent asthma predict response to ICS
10. Study evaluates use of inhaled saline for young children with cystic fibrosis
11. Study says children exposed to tobacco smoke face long-term respiratory problems
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... kind product that targets the unique health needs of new moms. Postnatal ... Pregnancy Association ( ), utilizes Nordic Naturals’ exclusive, new, ultra-concentrated omega-3 ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... 2015 , ... California Southern University has named Dr. Judith ... Doctor of Nursing Practice from the renowned Johns Hopkins University—comes to CalSouthern with ... McLeod’s long and successful nursing practice included a variety of patient care, education ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... Bill Saye as the newest professional to introduce the latest development, ThermiVa® temperature ... recognized as a leading professional in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a pioneer in ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... home furnishings and décor, today announced it closed on a $20.5 million funding ... will be used to support the Company’s continued rapid growth and expansion, broaden ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The Bill Howe Family of Companies is an award winning ... flood remediation services. Family-owned and operated for 35 years, they have maintained value, ethics ... plumber two years in a row from the Union Tribune Reader’s Poll, a Healthiest ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... N.C. , Oct. 13, 2015  Yesterday Congresswoman ... Influenza Vaccines Holly Springs manufacturing site located in ... 2014, the facility has produced Flucelvax ® (Influenza ... the potential for faster start-up and is not reliant ... CSL Limited acquired the influenza vaccines business of Novartis ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... 12, 2015 Given the intricacy of ... challenging to deliver an ophthalmic drug effectively to a specific ... successful ocular drug delivery. These include dilution of a drug ... of conjunctiva and drug permeation issues with respect to the ... topical eye drops, is lost due to the aforementioned barriers. ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... CRANBURY, N.J. , Oct. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... that a securities fraud class action complaint was ... of New Jersey.  The complaint alleges that officers and ... Securities Exchange Act of 1934 between September 15, 2015 ... misleading statements about Amicus Therapeutics, business prospects.  Amicus is ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: