Entertainment is an effective way to inform viewers about important health and social issues, with TV and streaming shows such as Grey's Anatomy, East Los High, Parenthood and 90210 credited with educating audiences about autism, breast cancer and domestic violence. Modern Family and Transparent have helped transform portrayals of LGBT characters and added to the cultural discussion of marriage equality and trans rights.
"California, for its part, is a powerhouse of social progress and change. . . . And Los Angeles is a global city. What you do here can inspire cities everywhere. In that spirit, I ask you to take on a leadership role in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. . . . I therefore urge you to engage the storytellers and artists of your creative community to spread knowledge of the 17 Goals." (Portions of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's remarks to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council)
In mid-March, individuals from an unusual mix of communities and professional sectors gathered at the headquarters of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in New Jersey. The group included the Foundation; Purple States, a documentary production company; Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center; and advisors from across the country, whose personal and professional experiences span cultures and communities. At the day-long summit, they embarked on a frank and provocative conversation about how culture influences health.
Hollywood, Health & Society’s panel event, “Telling Life Stories: Crisis and Care at the Beginning, Middle and End,” drew a full house to the WGAW, where writers and producers from four leading network, cable and streaming TV shows—joined by experts and local storytellers— explored the issues of aging and health care.
Hollywood, Health & Society, together with the World Bank, presented a series of activities at the 13th annual Morelia Film Festival on Oct. 28-29 to enhance understanding of entertainment education and strengthen storytelling skills to advance public health and pro-social topics.
The hit CBS series Madam Secretary was the winner in the Drama category at the glittering ceremony for the 16th annual Sentinel Awards, which recognize exemplary achievements in television storylines that inform, educate and motivate viewers to make choices for healthier and safer lives.
We know from research that stories can have a significant impact on what people know, feel and do. For better and worse, food’s pervasive depictions in entertainment like movies, television and music can be models for behavior and beliefs. How do these images of food affect us? What if storytellers chose to use their power to inspire audiences to make healthy food choices?
If there’s one message to take away from Racing Extinction, the new environmental documentary from Academy Award-winning director Louie Psihoyos (The Cove), it’s this: If climate change goes unchecked, humanity won't go out with a bang but more likely with a whimper.
Hollywood, Health & Society’s recent discussion, "The Double XX Files: Health and Justice for Women in Film and TV,” brought the topics of sexual assault, breast cancer and reproductive care into sharp focus with behind-the-scenes looks at the creative process from entertainment writers and producers, personal experiences and some sobering statistics.
Hollywood, Health & Society brought its message of the power of entertainment to one of the most important global health battles, leading an international group of writers and producers to participate in a storytelling workshop and panel at the 2014 World Cancer Congress in Melbourne, Australia.