In class, we discussed how freak shows make us scared, anxious, and nervous. This is due to the blurred boundary between what is human and what is not. This reminds me of a discussion in a class I took last semester about the boundary between a live human body and a dead human body. Often, the line is blurred, though we may not consciously know this. One good example is shown in old Juan Valverde de Amusco drawings (shown below) where a human stands upright but is flayed open and often holding his own skin out, as to show the innerworkings of the body. While we know that the body is dead, it somehow seems alive at the same time due to his stance and the contents in his hands. When boundaries are blurred, it is very hard to know how to treat the person or object in question. This is the case in freak shows.
To me, the term freak show conveys images of genetically imperfect humans with odd characteristics, usually caused by the alteration of one gene. Freak shows aren’t so freakish to me. I think about “freaks” similarly to how Benedict Lambert thinks about them, except I haven’t experienced one personally. I don’t think of freaks as freaks. They are just people with genetic differences. Freak shows don’t freak me out but rather make me sad due to the inhumane treatment of the humans involved.
~ by peacelovecake on April 8, 2010.
Posted in Mendel's Dwarf Tags: blurred boundaries, freak, freak show, genetic mutation, genetics, Mendel's Dwarf
I could hardly agree more. While we certainly can’t ignore the genetic differences, there is no need to attach meaning (like “freak” to them). Even the language we use seems to play a big role — words like “freak” bother me for that reason.
nickmbrown said this on April 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Reply
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