Media, Performative Identity, and the New American Freak Show

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Jessica L. Williams
394 g
216x151x20 mm

Explores the history of the freak show and how it was transformed through the emergence of media
1. Introduction 2. The Mediated Freak Body 3. Horror Movies, Horror Bodies: Blurring the Freak Body in Cinema 4. Reality, Normality, Sexuality: "Authentic" Portrayals of the Freak 5. Disability Pornography and the Cultural Politics of Disabled Sexuality 6. Born This Way?: Disseminating Identification
This book traces how the American freak show has re-emerged in new visual forms in the 21st century. It explores the ways in which moving image media transmits and contextualizes, reinterprets and appropriates, the freak show model into a "new American freak show." It investigates how new freak representations introduce narratives about sex, gender, and cultural perceptions of people with disabilities. The chapters examine such representations found in horror films, including a prolonged look at Freaks (1932) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), documentaries such as Murderball (2005) and TLC's Push Girls (2012-2013), disability pornography including the pornographic documentary Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan Supermasochist (1997), and the music icons Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga in their portrayals of disability and freakishness. Through this book we learn that the visual culture that has emerged takes the place of the traditional freak show but opens new channels of interpretation and identification through its use of mediated images as well as the altered freak-norm relationship that it has fostered. In its illumination of the relationship between normal and freakish bodies through different media, this book will appeal to students and academics interested in disability studies, gender studies, film theory, critical race theory, and cultural studies.

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