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In this blistering film critique, Code of the Freaks gives the mic to Hollywood’s most incensed critics—real disabled people.
In this blistering film critique, Code of the Freaks gives the mic to Hollywood’s most incensed critics—real disabled people.
397 backers pledged $35,433 to help bring this project to life.

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In this blistering critique of Hollywood representations of disabled characters, Code of the Freaks gives the mic to some of Hollywood’s most incensed and ignored critics – actual disabled people.
  

Code of the Freaks takes its name from Tod Browning’s infamous 1932 cult-classic film, Freaks, which features a tight-knit community of sideshow performers who seek murderous revenge on the able-bodied diva who done them wrong. No one crosses the freaks and gets away with it. As the carnival barker says, “Their code is a law unto themselves. Offend one, and you offend them all.”

Code of the Freaks is also a reference to the disability community itself, which in spite of a history fractured by institutionalization, isolation and segregation from the rest of humanity, has emerged to build a political and cultural movement. The producers and interviewees of Code of the Freaks come from the current-day disability community of scholars, activists, and artists with dozens of years of experience of media activism. 

Our “code” takes an unsparing approach to Hollywood’s longtime fascination and exploitation of disability-themed films. With smart critical analysis, thoughtful discussion, a 100-year span of movie clips and some fiercely funny take-downs, we’ll expose Hollywood’s fake and formulaic portrayals of disability through the lens of our collective lived experience. Interviewees showcased in Code of the Freaks make sense of this teeming miasma by placing these film images and narratives of disability within their broader social context. Their commentary cuts across genres and historical periods and through issues of race, sexuality, gender, and class. 

Our interviewees are cool, and range in age, disability and background, together revealing how Hollywood has manipulated our identities to elicit viewers’ emotions. 

Since the very first moving pictures as far back as 1898 with The Fake Beggar, disabled people have endured blatant stereotyping, while Hollywood has made trillions of dollars exploiting disability imagery. Using storylines created by non-disabled writers, directors and actors, it should be no surprise that films like Of Mice and Men, Forrest Gump, Rain Man, Wait Until Dark, Scent of a Woman, Fatal Attraction, Children of a Lesser God, Black Swan, Million Dollar Baby, Silver Linings Playbook, The Theory of Everything and Me Before You distort, sentimentalize, demonize, demean and outright lie about the experience of disability in America. Code of the Freaks uncovers disabled people’s complex relationships with these narratives and their impact on our real lives. 

 Interviewing cool people means we need money to travel to them or to bring them to us. And money for equipment, materials, production, and post-production. Check out what we’ve done so far by visiting our website. Or our Facebook page. Or Twitter. Our feature-length version will include a wider range of voices, more fully exploring issues of race, sexuality, and class as well as delving further into the case-study of gender featured in this sample.

Risks and challenges

The Code of the Freaks team of writers and producers does not anticipate too many risks associated with creating this film. Unless you count fury fatigue. As with any ambitious artistic project, challenges might arise related to our travel and interview schedule. We will work as a team to coordinate the best possible production and post-production timeline to bring this film to our global audiences nationwide. Keep in mind that we also have costs related to disability access and accommodation. We gotta practice what we preach.

Other than that, this film’s benefits clearly outweigh its risks and challenges. This film has the capacity to purge your personal need for revenge against Hollywood, making you part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Disclaimer: Side effects of viewing this film may include: empowered consciousness, nausea, tears, snorting laughter, and high blood pressure. If your laughter lasts for more than four hours, go to your nearest emergency room.

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Funding period

- (30 days)