Ethical Issues In The Movie Capote

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The movie Capote (2005) posed many ethical issues in relation to the way qualitative information was conducted. The first of which being the study, or research design, was not approved or monitored by a review board, ethics board or review committees. Capote read about a murder that had occurred in a small town in Kansas and came up with the idea to write about it. There was no informed consent shared with members of the community that he and Harper Lee spoke with regarding the murders. I do not believe that many members of the community were even aware that he was working on a writing, and felt he was just a concerned citizen.

Participants in the study were not subject to any physical harm, discomfort or psychological distress during the research. Towns people were grieving the loss of community members and openly spoke about what they knew to have happened, and shared their losses with Capote and Lee in a casual conversation format. Eventually, Capote does question Perry Smith about the night of the murders, and physical distress does come through in reliving what had happened. I do believe beneficence was withheld throughout the research phase of Capote’s writing.

While watching the movie I do not believe there were any major risks associated with the research being
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Capote, while speaking with Smith, mentions that he still does not know what happened that night. Smith responding with hesitation, not wanting to share details with Capote. Capote then mentions leaving to visit Smith’s sister to find out more about him. Smith asked Capote not to go, but Capote did anyway. Upon returning from visiting Smith’s sister, Capote shows Smith a picture from his childhood and lies about his sister missing him. Hearing of his sister missing him and seeing the picture triggers an emotional response and Smith shares what happened the evening of the murders with
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