Friday, 13 February 2009

come look at the freaks.

in my disability & sexuality class, we've been discussing the history of the freak show in america. most of the readings have made it seem as though the age of the freak show has passed, but watching TLC i would beg to differ. the program line-up is as follows:

little people big world.

mermaid girl.

pregnant man.

tree man.

the woman with giant legs.

it appears to me that the freak show is alive and well in america. now we just guise it in the form of reality television, or put it on the learning channel and expect that people will watch "for educational purposes." people are watching these shows because these disabled people are the modern day equivalents of the bearded lady and the sword-swallowing man. they can watch unattached, from a distance, in the comfort of their own homes. forget coney island, TLC is where the real freak show is. on the one hand, these people obviously wanted to have their stories told on tv, or they wouldn't be there. on the other, they are on tv solely because of their disabilities. (i mean, come on, look at the titles of the shows. they literally are the titles of acts in a freak show.) i wonder if TLC thinks that these shows will increase understanding and empathy, or fear and curiosity. or all of the above. either way, these shows are on the air for one reason: americans love a good freak show.

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