September 19, 2013, 7 pm
‘Freaks’ was directed by Tod Browning and released by MGM Studios in 1932. It is notorious for being the first mainstream film to cast real sideshow and carnival performers as the main characters, rather than using Hollywood actors in costumes and makeup. The film was extremely controversial upon initial release, and was banned in the United Kingdom for over 30 years. The 19th century dime museums that serve as the conceptual inspiration for ‘Dr. Soanes’ Odditorium of Wonders’ often displayed living human curiosities alongside artworks, oddities, menageries, and technological marvels, and Victorian audiences were invited to voyeuristically gaze upon the strange bodies of freak performers. How does our current culture of political correctness and heightened understanding of genetic disorders alter the viewing of ‘Freaks’ today? This screening will include discussion of dime museums, transgressive viewing, and enthusiastic Victorian consumption of the strange.