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Freaks in the City

There was a problem loading comments right now. Showing 0 comments. Sort by: Newest Oldest. Need customer service? Click here. Back to top. Changing attitudes about physical differences led to the decline of the freak show as a form of entertainment towards the end of the 19th century. As previously mysterious anomalies were scientifically explained as genetic mutations or diseases , freaks became the objects of sympathy rather than fear or disdain. Laws were passed restricting freak shows for these reasons. For example, Michigan law forbids the "exhibition [of] any deformed human being or human monstrosity, except as used for scientific purposes".

People could see similar types of acts and abnormalities from the comfort of their own homes or a nice theater, they no longer needed to pay to see freaks. Though movies and television played a big part in the decline of the freak show, the rise of disability rights was the true cause of death.

It was finally viewed as wrong to profit from others' misfortune: the days of manipulation were done. Today, popular networks like TLC offer shows that exploit people in the same way that Barnum's museum did. Their shows like " Little People, Big World " and "My Pound Life" look at the oddities of human nature and create audiences for them. Though paid well, the freaks of the 19th Century didn't always enjoy the quality of life that this idea led to.

Frank Lentini, the three-legged man, was quoted saying, "My limb does not bother me as much as the curious, critical gaze. Although freak shows were viewed as a place for entertainment, they were also a place of employment for those who could advertise, manage, and perform in its attractions. Many freak show performers were lucky and gifted enough to earn a livelihood and have a good life through exhibitions, some becoming celebrities, commanding high salaries and earning far more than acrobats, novelty performers, and actors.

The salaries of dime museum freaks usually varied from twenty-five to five hundred dollars a week, making a lot more money than lecture-room variety performers. At the height of freak shows' popularity, they were the only job for dwarves. Many scholars have argued that freak show performers were being exploited by the showmen and managers for profit because of their disabilities.

Many freaks were paid generously but had to deal with museum managers who were often insensitive about the performers' schedules, working them long hours just to make a profit. This was particularly hard for top performers since the more shows these freaks were in, the more tickets were sold. Individual exhibits were hired for about one to six weeks by dime museums. The average performer had a schedule that included ten to fifteen shows a day and was shuttled back and forth week after week from one museum to another. For example: Fedor Jeftichew , known as "Jo-Jo, the Dog-Faced Boy" appeared at the Globe Museum in New York, his manager arranged to have him perform twenty-three shows during a twelve to fourteen hour day.

The entertainment appeal of the traditional "freak shows" is arguably echoed in numerous programmes made for television. Extraordinary People on the British television channel Five or BodyShock show the lives of severely disabled or deformed people, and can be seen as the modern equivalent of circus freak shows. On The Guardian , Chris Shaw however comments that "one man's freak show is another man's portrayal of heroic triumph over medical adversity" and carries on with "call me prejudiced but I suspect your typical twentysomething watched this show with their jaw on the floor rather than a tear in their eye".

The musical Side Show centers around Daisy and Violet Hilton and their lives as conjoined twins on exhibition. American Horror Story: Freak Show also focuses on freak shows. Some of its characters are played by disabled people, rather than all of the disabilities being created through makeup or effects. Rowling 's Wizarding World creative universe, the Circus Arcanus is a freak show for individuals with rare magical conditions and deformities, as well as a variety of magical animal species and hominids.

The characters Nagini and Credence Barebone worked here during the s, one, a Maledictus a woman with a magical blood disease that leads to the turning of that individual into an animal for the rest of their life, and the other, an Obscurial a young person who develops a magical parasite that sometimes envelops and controls their body, caused via the suppression of magical powers.


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Socioeconomic assistance. Groups Organizations. Disabled sports. Disability in the arts Disability art Disability in the media. Disability Lists. Retrieved April 27, Matthew Buchinger was born in Germany, without hands or feet, on the 3rd of June, He came over to England, from Hanover, in the retinue of George the first, with whom he expected to have ingratiated himself, by presenting to his Majesty a musical instrument of his own invention, resembling, we believe, a flute, and on which he played with considerable skill. Chicago: Univ. Sideshow U. Chicago [u.

New York [u. Freak show: presenting human oddities for amusement and profit Paperback ed.

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Freak Show: presenting human oddities for amusement and profit Paperback ed. Freak Show. Retrieved 13 October The True History of the Elephant Man 3rd ed. Chicago, Illinois. Archived from the original on January 25, Archived from the original on Wayne Schoenfeld. London: The Guardian. London: Entertainment. London: Guardian. The Flannery O'Connor Repository. Retrieved 5 March Press of Mississippi. Cambridge University Press.


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