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Mass Communication Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

2011

Broadcast and Video Studies

Communication and the arts

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The Oddity As Commodity: Television And The Modern Day Freak Show, Robin Marie Cecala May 2011

The Oddity As Commodity: Television And The Modern Day Freak Show, Robin Marie Cecala

Dissertations

A new genre of documentary and reality program has appeared on cable television in recent years. Suddenly, little people, conjoined twins, the morbidly obese, Treeman and Mermaid Girl are the new stars of cable. This latest genre features people with medical conditions once exhibited in the turn of the century freak shows.

The goal of this dissertation is to argue that documentary programming on cable is becoming a modern version of the P.T. Barnum-style freak shows. The analysis uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to examine representations of race, culture and disability. The dissertation also discusses the history of ...