The Philip Seymour Hoffman Project: A Student-Generated, Media Literacy Focus on Opioid Abuse

The Philip Seymour Hoffman Project: A Student-Generated, Media Literacy Focus on Opioid Abuse

Rachel S. Kovacs (City University of New York, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9261-7.ch020

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter, and the class project upon which it is based, has been to demonstrate the prosocial role social media, and in particular Facebook, can play in media literacy, by providing a framework for showcasing rigorous student research and harnessing creative responses to salient social welfare and policy issues. Specifically, Facebook can potentially raise awareness of opioid abuse, which has spiraled into a global epidemic, provide narratives that reach broader audiences, and thus fill a gap in substantive mainstream media coverage on the topic. The chapter traces the evolution and progress of a student project in a media literacy class at a New York public university and puts efforts to address the current opioid crisis in an historical context. The immediate catalyst for the project was the sudden, tragic, heroin-related death in 2014 of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, but the “bigger picture” has been broader communities. This study may interest media educators, their educational institution, government agencies, and health institutions that deal with health policy.
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Introduction

This chapter recounts the history, progress, and impact of a student project in a media literacy class at a public university in New York City. The purpose of the project has been to raise awareness of opioid abuse and its impact, and to share student research and narratives on this topic with broader audiences by means of social media, specifically Facebook. The paper also puts the current opioid crisis and how it became an impetus for the project in an historical context. The immediate catalyst for the project was the sudden and tragic death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of a heroin overdose in his Manhattan apartment in February 2014 (Weber, 2014). Here the author will begin with the broader context of drug abuse and the failure to successfully curb, if not eliminate it, and then discuss Mr. Hoffman and the class project.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Opiates: They are the natural form of drugs derived from the poppy plant and are highly addictive.

War on Drugs: The U.S. government-subsidized programs to create ads and raise public awareness about the danger and use of drugs and their harmful effects on the addicts, their families, and their communities.

Opioids: Synthetic derivatives of opiates, which are manufactured and used in prescription painkillers such as oxycodone or oxycontin and are highly addictive.

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