Review: Code of the Freaks (2020)

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Jeffrey Preston


Stereotypes, Representation of Disability, Film Analysis


The documentary film Code of the Freaks explores representations of disability in American film. Designed to be enjoyed by academic and non-academic communities alike, the ultimate objective of the film is “to capture the conversations that we and those within our communities were so desperate to have, hoping that these conversations could also have a wider audience and reach” (Chasnoff et al., n.d.). This brief review outlines some of the key arguments of the film and connects the work to research happening in the field of media and disability studies.

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Browning, T. (1932, February 20). Freaks [Drama, Horror]. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).

Chasnoff, S., Carter-Long, L., Coleman, C., & Ervin, M. (2020, April 1). Code of the Freaks [Documentary].

Chasnoff, S., Nussbaum, S., Patsavas, A., & Sandahl, C. (n.d.). About the Film. Code of the Freaks. Retrieved August 23, 2021, from

Chivers, S. (2010). The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film. Ohio State University Press.

Deleuze, G., & Patton, P. (1994). Difference and Repetition. Columbia University Press.

Longmore, P. K. (2003). Why I burned my book and other essays on disability. Temple University Press.

Mitchell, D. T., & Snyder, S. L. (2001). Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. University of Michigan Press.

Norden, M. F. (1994). The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies. Rutgers University Press.

Smith, A. (2012). Hideous Progeny: Disability, Eugenics, and Classic Horror Cinema. Columbia University Press.

Wilson, T. E. (2013). Deaf Sexy: Genre and Disability in Read My Lips. In M. E. Mogk (Ed.), Different Bodies: Essays on Disability in Film and Television (pp. 17–27). McFarland Publishing.

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