Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson executive produced the new documentary Shot in the Arm about how COVID-19 misinformation causes vaccine hesitancy. Oscar winner Scott Hamilton Kennedy directs the Black Valley Films production, which includes interviews with top health officials.
“It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing,” Tyson says to Yahoo Entertainment of the film’s core message. “As an educator, that remains my goal — not to oust duly elected politicians, but to educate their electorate so that the engines of democracy can argue over political solutions to problems and not the science itself.”
Tyson says that the core message of Shot in the Arm is how to be a responsible citizen. “By being a member of society, by being a participant in civilization, we share a mutual obligation to look after one another. Or, as a minimum, do no harm to others,” says Tyson. “If your actions put the health, wealth and security of society at risk, then it’s time to move into the woods — away from people who care about one another and the future of civilization.”
Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy Says That Shot in the Arm Became a Plea for People to Grasp the Importance of Science and Truth
The official press release for Shot in the Arm reads: “Powerful, cathartic, healing and timely, Shot in the Arm from Executive Producer Neil deGrasse Tyson (docuseries Cosmos and New York Times best-selling author) and Academy Award nominee Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy (The Garden, Food Evolution, Fame High) is a much needed call to our humanity.
“In the spring of 2019, before anyone had heard of COVID-19, Kennedy began investigating a global measles epidemic and filming with top public health officials–including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, MD; Karen Ernst; Dr. Paul A. Offit, MD; Dr. Peter J. Hotez, MD; Blima Marcus, DNP –as well as rare verité and interviews with antivaccine activists — like Robert Kennedy Jr. (charting his part in Samoa's tragic measles outbreak of 2019 and as he continues to garner GOP funding for a Democrat presidential bid today), Andrew Wakefield, and Del Bigtree — who were persuading parents by the millions to refuse vaccines for their children.
“Then COVID-19 happened. Acting quickly, Kennedy shifted his directorial eye to this once-in-a-century tragedy, as his family was caught in the maelstrom of COVID-19. Both skeptical and hopeful, Shot in the Arm explores the cultural zeitgeist of vaccine hesitancy historically and in the context of the current COVID pandemic and how disinformation is its own disease. Can we replace cynicism with healthy curiosity and bridge the political divides that make us sick?”
Kennedy says to Yahoo Entertainment, “This experience with COVID-19 is a reminder that we all do better when we remember we are in this together. Shot in the Arm has become a healing film; healing for all who, despite all the confusion and vitriol of this once in a century pandemic, did their best to follow data and decency over cynicism and selfishness.” He continues, “Science is worth it. Decency is worth it. The verifiable truth is worth it.”
Shot in the Arm premieres in New York on November 3 at the Angelika Film Center and in L.A. on November 17 at the Laemmle Glendale.
Robert DeSalvo is a professional writer and editor with over 25 years of experience at print and online publications such as Movieline, Playboy, PCH, Fandango, and The A.V. Club. He currently lives in Los Angeles, the setting of his favorite movie, Blade Runner. Robert has interviewed dozens of actors, directors, authors, musicians, and other celebrities during his journalism career, including Brian De Palma, Nicolas Cage, Dustin Hoffman, John Waters, Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Anne Rice, and many more. Horror movies, sci-fi, cult films as well as gothic, postpunk, and synthwave music are what Robert geeks over.