Disability Studies Program to present screening of ‘Freaks’

April 5, 2010 | Events, UToday
By Emily Hickey

freaksThose who may have been called “freaks” in the 1930s Tod Browning called amazing and cast them in lead roles for his 1932 production of “Freaks.”

The University of Toledo Disability Studies Program will screen Browning’s film Tuesday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2100.

“This is a landmark film that both confirmed and challenged stereotypes about disabled people in the 1930s,” said Dr. Jim Ferris, Ability Center of Greater Toledo Endowed Chair in Disability Studies, director of the UT Disability Studies Program and associate professor of communication. “It’s a wild movie, one that illustrates attitudes around disability that persist today.”

Mike Mechlowitz, UT disability studies instructor, said the film will allow audiences to look at disabilities differently from what they had before.

“The problem in this film isn’t the ‘freaks,’ it’s the ‘normal’ people. Browning doesn’t exploit the freaks; he helps us realize that they are human beings, too,” Mechlowitz said.

Ferris added that the film’s shocking portrayal of a range of people with disabilities is of enduring interest to students and scholars in disability studies.

“Disability studies examines the meaning of human difference, how society values some bodies and devalues others,” Ferris said. “This film highlights some of those values. It’s a little creepy, but it gives us a lot to think about.”

For more information on the free, public film or the Disability Studies Program, contact Ferris at 419.530.7245 e-mail jim.ferris@utoledo.edu.

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