Demented Superheroes

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This is a video I edited with footage from the 1940’s “educational” film Symptoms in Schizophrenia courtesy of the Prelinger Archives. Music is by my old band Mohenjo (featuring Ryan Carey on bass). Check out our podcast episode with Ryan here.

Described by James D Page of the Psychological Cinema Register of the Pennsylvania State College thusly: “This film…demonstrates four types of schizophrenia filmed at various New York institutions… raises questions about the condition and treatment of its subjects.”

While this film may have justifiable educational value it just feels wrong. Even when considering its now-anachronistic nature, it still has an exploitive air about it that smells baked-in (even for 1938). The masks worn by each patient are clearly meant to offer some semblance of personal privacy but the result is like a peek into the lair of a villainous mad doctor consortium tormenting their hapless foes (ie., our captive oddball superheroes).

©2010 Pat Ferry and Lane Zumoff.


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