When Freaks was originally debuted in 1932, director Tod Browning’s career was effectively finished. The film has since become a cult classic, but at the time, Browning’s creation was considered so shockingly exploitative of its stars that it was banned in the United Kingdom for thirty years. Many critics were utterly revolted by the portrayals of what were referred to in the popular culture of the day as “freaks of nature.”
What was the shock and outrage about?
For one thing, the cast of Freaks uninhibitedly featured microcephalics, dwarves, midgets, armless and legless men and women and the sexually anomalous; people who generally were kept hidden out of sight in institutions for the disabled or whose lives were lived out within the narrow confines of what amounted to human amusement parks.
The human beings portrayed in Freaks were not presented as mere oddities to be gazed at in sideshows. Rather, they were shown as having meaningful stories—just like the rest of the human race. They were depicted as real people with deep feelings, including passionate love and hate.
The film critic for the New York Times summarized Freaks’ plot in his column, “The Circus Side Show:”
“The story is about a midget who falls in love with a trapeze performer. She discovers that he has a fortune of his own, and marries him despite her affair with another performer and the midget's engagement to one of his kind. At the wedding feast she insults the "freaks," and thus incurs their enmity. She starts to poison her new husband to gain his wealth. The "freaks" learn of the attempt, and on a rainy night when the circus is bogged along the road they kill the performer and chase the woman. She herself is changed into "one of us" as a result of her experiences.
He added, “Freaks is not a picture to be easily forgotten. The reason, of course, is the underlying sense of horror, the love of the macabre that fills the circus sideshows in the first place.
There it is: The “love of the macabre.” The love of the macabre was what allowed freak shows to make money. The love of looking at “others” who invited a sick feeling of revulsion; the love of gazing at human beings who afforded a feeling of relief that the onlookers were not at all like those “freaks.”
America doesn’t have traveling freak shows anymore, partly due to the rise of rights movements who lobby on behalf of people with mental and physical disabilities; and partly due to the eloquent personal testimonies of people like Frank Stephens, who has Down syndrome. He continually pleads for the right of mentally and physically disabled people to survive outside the womb.
No, circus barkers no longer invite ticket holders to gawk at the Fat Lady, Lobster Boy or the Bearded Woman.
Instead, America has advanced to the point at which freak shows are now televised for mass consumption.
Freaks fat lady Doris Bleu would now be the person who appears on “My 600-lb Life.” Minnie Woolsey, aka known as “Koo-Koo the bird girl” might appear on a show like “The Swan,” subjecting herself to tortuously extreme surgery in order to come up to what Hollywood regards as the standard of beauty. Schlitzie Surtees, the microcephalic who was also known as Simon Metz, might be the bill board star who warns against the dangers of Zika. Or, had he been located in Germany instead of in America during the early 1930’s, Schlitzie may have been given a fatal appearance in the propaganda film used to persuade Germans to write a law to euthanize freaks deemed “useless bread eaters.”
Yes, something morally horrible has grown in America since the production of Freaks. Something utterly and undeniably evil has profoundly twisted and polluted America’s conscience.
As the revulsion against the exploitation of the disabled was fast disappearing, America’s conscience began evolving to the point at which deliberate creation of freaks on reality television became a legitimate moneymaking endeavor.
A new kind of freak show is upon us, in which parents and the medical profession cooperate in actively promoting the deformation of once perfectly normal children and youth. Prolonged torture by medical professionals and abusive parents has gone mainstream, as is most clearly evidenced by “reality” show featuring “Jazz” Jennings, whose “transition” from boy to girl has been presented as entertainment for the avidly curious public.
Perhaps there isn’t much surprise the Jennings show is being brought to us live. Advocates for the ongoing sexual revolution continue to draw no distinct moral red line other than personal distaste when it comes to the exploitation and manipulation of children and youth.
For at least a generation, kids have been openly paraded as objects of sexual desire. As far back as 1995, little boys were featured in the film Chippendiddys, their obviously sexual gyrations promoted as cute kid stuff; while actually, the continued attraction of the film was and is not about kid’s having so-called fun, but about its ongoing appeal to pedophiles and pederasts.
Today there appears to be only sporadic outrage at the sight of an eleven-year-old boy dressed in drag and posturing in front of a naked drag queen. Few seem to be particularly outraged over parents taking children to a “gay pride” parade where simulation of anal sex is on display and little boys are encouraged to dance suggestively while grown men laugh and applaud. Frighteningly costumed drag queens are invited to tell stories to toddlers in public libraries.
There is, in short, not much organized resistance against the display and promotion of sexual freakery once known as perversion.
But the Jennings show takes the sexual exploitation of kids and youth to a whole new level. Episode by episode, the show films the slow and tortuous drugging and mutilation of a normal boy as he is persuaded to participate in his own destruction. Viewers watch a post birth sex selected abortion of a boy. They watch him endure castration. The show is the modern version of the Barnum and Bailey freak show. Step right up, folks! See reality star Jazz Jennings psychologically gaslit by his own family, drugged by sex hormones and castrated right before your very eyes!
The titillated crowds watch as he is mutilated spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Western civilization has banned public hangings, and has outlawed cruel and unusual punishments like drawing and quartering. Millions are horrified by the barbaric laws that promote chopping off the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery to death. Torturing criminals in public does not find much support among decent Americans still possessing consciences.
But millions can watch with apparently unperturbed equanimity the sterilization of a boy, watching his writhing body and tormented face after an experimental operation that has castrated him while providing a mock “vagina” from the lining of his stomach. Millions can watch as sex selection after birth is applauded by Jennings’ followers, including his “supportive” mother, who sobs while proclaiming that just as she welcomed the birth of a tiny boy she took home from the hospital eighteen years ago; so now she welcomes the birth of a “daughter” she also takes home from a hospital.
What millions are watching, some with enthusiastic approval, is the culmination of the dark and twisted ideology driving the transgender cult. The quasi-religious overtones of the trans movement are made blindingly obvious as Jazz is “born again.” He came out of his mother’s womb a boy, but must be “born again” as a girl because his inner voice, as discerned by his prophetic parents and medical professionals who are also seers, has told him he is not really a boy. “We will help you achieve your inmost desires. We will save you!”
There also is a religious/ideological reason the operation that has sterilized Jennings is called “confirmation surgery.” Confirmation is a Christian religious ritual practiced by Catholics, among others. In Confirmation, children are seen as being transformed by God through the power of the Holy Spirit. They wear white as a symbol of becoming pure and clean before God. The child who is participating dedicates his or her life to Christ. A new life awaits them.
Transitioning “confirmation” surgery imitates and distorts Christian Confirmation. Jennings’ operations are the rites of passage into a new life. In fact, some churches have hopped on the bandwagon of transgenderism, and are including a liturgical ritual celebrating sex “reassignment” in the way most pastors and priests celebrate baptism and Confirmation. “Transitioning” takes the place of what was formerly known in Christian circles as conversion. Conversion therapy, however, is considered regression for and injurious to the newly confirmed being, who has been saved from the old gender denominated self and transformed into a new human being with a new gender identity.
Those who know the Christian view of the mortification of the “flesh” will recognize the hijacking of the concept by the transgender movement. The Christian idea behind “mortification of the flesh” is that one desires to put to death his or her sinful nature and wishes to embrace the process of sanctification. It does not mean and has never meant that one is literally to mutilate or even kill the body in order to become the sex opposite of that with which one was born. For orthodox Christians, the body as created by God is considered good, with both male and female being created in the image of a triune God.
“Jazz” Jennings is a sacrificial victim to the transgender cult. Having been urged to drink the transgender Kool-Aid from very early childhood on, he has been brainwashed into thinking he’s doing what he really wants, much as a child endures and even accepts her relative’s sexual abuse because she’s been told he really does loves her.
The transgender movement is busily making Jennings over into their twisted version of a saint. A sweet, gentle and malleable kid has been put on display as a model exemplar for trans people. From the tales of saintly perspicacity concerning his desire to be a girl even from earliest childhood, to the anointing as a role model for other children and youths who are troubled, to the willingness to suffer tortures for the trans faith, Jennings has become the poster for a cult that is gaining traction daily.
But the facts are that Jennings’ life is over, or at least severely shortened. The hormones he has taken for years are destroying his brain and vital organs and will continue to do so, for he has to take them all his life.
There is no blame to be attached to Jennings. His is a purely tragic case. The blame lies with those who, like the producers of TLC, pronounce evil as good and who sell lies for a living. Those who have done such terrible deeds are the real freaks, not Jennings.
Freaks, in its portrayal of the strong and beautiful who also live in life’s circus, shows outward physical normalcy can hide moral freakery of the soul.
The real freaks are the bodily beautiful trapeze artist and the pinup strong man. It is not the childlike microcephalic “Schlitzie” whose brain cooks up the plot to poison the lovestruck little guy. It is the most physically beautiful woman in the film who tries to murder the infatuated midget whose considerable fortune she wants; while the character who is the most physically strong man provides her support and aid.
Evil people most often look perfectly average specimens of the human race. Jeffrey Dahmer, whose appearance was that of an ordinary young man, was described as a “nice guy” who “took good care of his lawn.”
In similar fashion, it’s average looking, physically “normal” people who are promoting the deliberate poisoning and mutilation of our children and youth in the name of a quasi-religious cult that should be completely shut down before it claims thousands more lives.
About the girls and young women who have fallen victim to the trans cult: Some as young as thirteen have had their breasts cut off and their sex organs reconfigured into facsimiles of male organs. Such gruesome procedures render the victims forever unable to bear children, much less to tenderly nurse the babies forever denied them. Their beauty has been irreparably deformed; their natural desires erased and the children that may have been born become imaginary little ghosts.
Among the Catholic saints is the figure of St. Agatha, who while being tortured by the Roman Quintianus, had her breasts sliced off because of her refusal to desert her faith. She became the patron saint of wet nurses, breast cancer patients and rape victims. Perhaps the Catholic church could add to her protectorate the victims whose breasts have been removed by devotees of an anti-Christian and inherently misogynist quasi-religious cult that believes in irreparably disfiguring women in order they become “men.”
In the meantime, aside from the comfort of saints, what comfort is there for those who have in this life been irreparably disfigured?
There is the present hope of the love of Christ, God the Father and the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit. There is also the hope of complete healing and a new body—a true transition into an immortal, perfect being who fellowships with the Son of Man, the Father and the Holy Spirit and all the saints in Heaven. No more tears; all hopes; all desires will be perfectly fulfilled. The longing to be other than one’s mortal self will be eternally satisfied as new identities and names are written in the immortal Book of Life.
There will be only One in Heaven who will still have the signs of mutilation done to Him while on earth. Just one. He only still will have wounds on his hands, his feet, his side and his brow. He is Jesus Christ, whom all of us wounded will recognize immediately, falling down at his feet in worshipful gratitude for his restoration, as did lepers, mutes and the blind when they were healed by the wholly and holy Other who came among us as one of us to die for us.
All who dwell in Heaven will be healed and creation freed from evil forever; and the great Judge of all mankind will deal justly with the fiendish freaks who maim and destroy.
Thank God for his goodness and justice. Thank God that in Heaven, all will be made right; and men and women will be immortal beings the like of which we will never see while on earth. Thank God that those who have been tortured and mutilated by their fellow men here on earth have the hope of being restored.
But until that time arrives, here on this festering threshing floor called earth, it is past time to shut down the dark, satanic mutilation mills and to put the freaks that run them out of business forever.
Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts have appeared in numerous online magazines, including National Review, American Thinker, Russia Insider, CNS, RealClearReligion, LifeSiteNews and The Christian Post. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.