Medical documentaries on conjoined twins van djick
MEDICAL DOCUMENTARY:CONJOINED TWINS AS AMEDIATED SPECTACLE José van Dijck Media Culture Society 2002
CONJOINED TWINS AS FREAKS „The freak is an object of simultaneous horror and fascinationbecause . . .the freak is an ambiguous being whose existence imperilscategories and oppositions dominant in social life‟ (Grosz, 1996: 56). Conjoined twins were seen as monsters during the MiddleAges, but during the 19th century, many congenital defects weremedicalised. However, this did not free them from popular entertainment.
CONJOINED TWINS AS FREAKS Ousted from their families, these individuals had little choice butto put themselves on display, and be exploited (Thomson, 1996: 2). Many “Freaks” were, thanks to their contracts, no better thanslaves. Often, freaks would be imported from Asia or Africa and weremarketed using their exotic otherness, defining physical abnormalityagainst western normality(Lindfors, 1996; Vaughan, 1996).
THE ORIGINAL SIAMESE TWINS Chang and Eng Bunker(1811 - 1874) from Thailand (then knownas Siam) were twins joined at the hip. They travelled with a freak show throughout America and Europe It could not be assessed as to whether they shared a liver, and thetwins refused all attempts to separate them They retired in 1833 and married two sisters, with whom they had22 children.
TRANSITION TO MEDICINAL FOCUS After 1900 the general public began to lose interest in freak shows Robert Bogdan (1988)attributed this to an increasing„medicalization‟ of society, where freaks were no longer regarded asmonstrosities, but as disabled people that science could aid. However, van Djick argues that the freak show did not disappear,instead the focus shifted to the surgeon.
USE OF EARLY CINEMA Early filmmakers often filmed things which already fascinatedaudiences, such as freak shows. It was also experimented with for recording medical proceduresand their results. Between 1950 and 1970 television became more dominant thanfilm in this area.
USE OF OPERATION DOCUMENTARIES Four reasons To train specialists, especially in terms of rare operations. To showcase surgical skill to outsiders To inform and entertain an audience And to promote the medical establishment
TODAY Because of this, the separation of conjoined twins becomes amediated event(van Djick, 2002) It is suggested that an element of the growing popularity of theseprograms is the convergence between medical and media technology. The camera and monitor are as indispensable to the surgical teamas they are to the film crew.
TODAY Documentaries no longer aim to educate professionals, but toinform the public. Directors and editors focus on extending the narrative and dramaof the event, as well as the human interest angle. The interests of the surgeon trying to gather interest in theirwork, and the broadcast companies attempts to reach wide audiencesare now the same.
SIAMESE TWINS (1995) Dao and Duan Headly The twins surgical separation is arelatively small part of the program. Instead the focus is on the surgeonsthemselves as heroic saviours. Phrases such as “this is the point of no return” highlight the tension Also, lots of focus on the children and their parents as human beings, their personalities, hopes and fears.
IDEOLOGICAL RELATIONS The program pits the western ideal of advanced tech and socialjustice against the “backwards nature” of the third world. Compares the sisters to the original Siamese twins, Chang and EngBunker and presents their lives as a fulfilment of the AmericanDream. Due to advance medicine, conjoined twins are seen as exotic onceagain.