Produced by MGM in 1932, Freaks (dir. Tod Browning) was withdrawn upon its initial theatrical release and is one of the few films from the era that remains truly shocking to contemporary audiences. The film features real circus “freaks” and their apparent monstrosity was one of the driving forces of the numerous controversies that plagued the film. Their representation remains a point of contention for the contemporary viewer, and whether or not the film does more harm than good in regards to its subject remains an open question for the socially conscious. The film encounters many of the same legal and ethical issues that freak shows have, offering a cinematic equal to the roadside attractions and circus shows.
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