Media representations of crime and criminal justice in the movie JOHN Q
John Quincy is the main character in the movie John Q. he is a father and husband. The son, Michael, collapses in a game of baseball and rushed to hospital only to be diagnosed with a heart condition. His survival depends on a transplant, but this cannot happen because of financial constraints and the insurance company cannot cover the procedure. According to the insurance policy, he needed to raise a total of 75000 USD, money that he did not have. As a result, John decides to perform the most unlikely thing, taking an entire hospital hostage. He cannot afford the surgery to save His son’s life, so he takes drastic measures and turns to criminality to save his sons life. He was a law obeying citizen until his sons diminish in health.
The movie, John Q, has been used to present a perspective of criminal and criminal justice in the society. Deviance is evident in the movie. It is defined as any behavior or belief that violates social norms. Deviance exists in relation to cultural standards and norms in the society. This implies that in the same way culture changes in society so does what is considered deviant. Structural functionalism is a theoretical concept that relates to the movie. It explains why the main character had to hold hostage people for the sake of saving the life of his son. Both social integration and social regulation apply to the case. According to the theory, deviance is an inevitable part of social norms. It argues that there can never be justice without the existence of crime. In fact, deviance affirms the presence of values and norms in the society. John in the movie committed a crime for the good of an individual. At the same time, his crime could be argued to be as a result of the need to confound to self interest and norms in the society.
The strain theory is one of the theories that are used to explain why people reject or accept certain norms and standards in the society. According to the theory, social structures can force people to commit crimes due to the strain and pressure they put on citizens. The theory suggests that strain can either take a structural form or individual form. In the movie John Q, strain mainly takes an individual form where the main character in the movie experiences some pain and friction in his bid to save the life of his son. The character intends desperately to satisfy a goal. It is something that is significant to him as an individual. To him, achieving that goal is more important than the means. In other words, he has been put in a situation where he can do anything to achieve the goal of saving the life of his son. He has been strained and pressured by this need. The movie can also take the form of structural strain where the society creates structures where citizens have to attain certain goals. The society further provides an acceptable means of achieving the goals. These acceptable means are adhered to when one follows the structures created. In the movie, Michael, John’s son, collapses in a game of baseball. The boy had a heart condition and when he is taken to a hospital, the doctors say that his survival only depends on a heart transplant.
The second theory in criminology that applies this movie is the rational choice theory. This theory suggests that all human beings are rational beings. They always reason and weigh options before deciding to do something. Human beings away think and weigh the benefits, costs, results of an action, and the means of achieving those results. Criminal offenders are regarded to have an individual view of the circumstances surrounding them. They are always thinking about themselves when they decide to do a criminal act. Additionally, offenders have a tendency to maximize their goals. This is seen in the movie where the main character, John Q, calculates all the options and thinks that it is better for him to hold people hostage so that his goal can be maximized. To him, it was apparent that the only way to save the life of his son is to force the doctor to perform the surgery at gun point. If he had gone home with his unconscious son, he would have just watched him die. He had also weighed the option of risking jail life by holding people hostage. He knew that he could go jail if he puts the gun down and surrenders. However, maximizing the goal of saving the life of his son was his intention. He would rather go to jail after the doctors have performed the surgery on his son and confirmed that the son was going to be well.
The other major theory in criminology that relates to the case in the movie is the differential association theory. According to this theory, a crime is not inherent in people. John Q was not born with crime as part of his nature. This is something that he learnt. John must have been exposed to criminal acts either through the media on witnessing his friends and relatives perform criminal acts. A deviant or a criminal behavior is a learnt in the same manner other behaviors are learnt. The learning process of the criminal or deviant behaviors is as a result of interaction in the society. Symbols and ideas are exchanged in the process of interaction. The one aspect about this theory that strongly relates to the movie is the assumption that when the ideas are desirable and favorable individuals would tend to think the deviant and criminal behaviors are acceptable. As a result, it would be easy for an individual to perform a crime based on the fact that he or she has a favorable view of that crime. This explains why John did what he did in the movie to save his son. To him, it was a favorable view to do a crime for the sake of a good outcome. This could easily justify his actions. Another aspect about this theory that strongly relates to the movie is the assumption that both illegitimate and legitimate behaviors are expressed towards the same needs. For instance, if John decided to do something legit to save the life of his son, he would still be expressing it towards the need to save his life. However, according to him, all the legit options were time consuming as his son was struggling to live.