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Chained for Life Is a Movie About Movies, Freaks, and Beauty

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Movie history is full of monsters—and I don’t mean the bloodthirsty Franken-gorgons of our genre fantasies, though the monsters in question are also, in their own way, fantasies.

They’re the people we’ve deemed monsters, also known as freaks, geeks, outsiders, others. Among them: the titular trouble-makers of Tod Browning’s classic 1932 movie Freaks, who were played by real-life carnival performers, some with real disabilities. Or even the “munchkins” of Munchkinland, who were beloved and remembered for their work on The Wizard of Oz yet plagued, in their everyday lives, by the era’s Draconian treatments for dwarfism, and by rumors that there’d been on-set orgies and the like. Tucked beneath the surface of the public’s fawning adoration was the sense that these people were inherently different, somewhat like animals—that they were “the most deformed, unpleasant bunch of adults imaginable,” as the historian Hugh Fordin once put it.

Chained for Life—the second feature written and directed by Aaron Schimberg, which is currently playing in New York and Los Angeles and expanding around the country—is a playful, darkly funny counterpoint to this painful history, in ways smarter and more fluid than at first seem possible. It is, on its face, that somewhat dreaded thing: a movie about movies. But in this case the movie in question is a fussy European director’s first English-language film, a beautified piece of exploitation with a gracelessly stupid plot about a blind woman and the facially disfigured man she falls in love with: Beauty and the Beast by way of wartime mystery.

An easy project to make fun of, in other words, particularly from the distance afforded by Chained for Life, which has fun with the fictional movie’s heavy German accents and vain actors. That the director onscreen (played by Charlie Korsmo) goes by Herr Director is no small incident. But even this feels, at first, like a joke about his self-seriousness, rather than like the portentously suggestive bit of context that it is. Chained for Life dwells on, even laps up, the bad dialogue and awkward horror of it all—those moments when the disfigured “beast” of a movie such as Herr Director’s dramatically emerges from the shadows. And when the blind lover testifies to being able to see the disfigured man’s inner beauty, the moment sings with hilarious irony.

And we are encouraged to laugh—particularly at ourselves. These are lines you’ve no doubt heard before, scenes you’ve no doubt seen—willingly watched! And paid for. Which is precisely what allows Schimberg to poke fun at our expectations. Chained for Life focuses on the actress Mabel (Jess Weixler), who’s playing the blind woman in Herr Director’s movie despite, as you might have guessed, not being blind. Funny, though, how the lies and cinematic fictions of a movie stack up. Sure, Mabel isn’t blind—but then neither is she blonde, like her character, nor German. You can imagine a conversation in which someone equates these things as similarly injurious or, more likely, not injurious at all—and in fact, early on, thinking she’s being sympathetic, Mabel practically does the same. It’s all acting, right?

That’s a much harder question to answer if a blind person is the one doing the asking—which is exactly what it feels like to be in the hands of Schimberg, who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and who’s said that disfigurement has been a part of every script he’s written to date, because “to not write about it feels more unnatural than grappling with it.” Grappling, in this case, is what Mabel seems to be doing over the course of the film, almost as if she’s hearing and seeing herself for the first time—hearing her own inconsistencies of logic as she realizes that playing a blind woman doesn’t quite count as “representation” for the blind, for example, and reacting to this realization internally, in real time after floating that dubious idea aloud.



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College Has Students Wear Cardboard Boxes On Their Heads During Exams To Prevent Cheating

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Roommates, we may have come up with interesting ways to cheat on exams, but a school in India is not having it! School administration has come up with their own way to stop cheating, which includes cardboard boxes.

According to BBC, students in the Indian state of Karnataka were forced to wear cardboard boxes on their heads during an exam to keep their eyes from wandering to their peer’s papers. The students were reportedly taking midterms, and teachers were in the classroom monitoring their every move.

The school has come under fire since the photo went viral, and a junior college administrator has since apologized to district officials for the incident.

“This is totally unacceptable. Nobody has any right to treat anybody more so students like animals. This perversion will be dealt with aptly,” a minister said about the incident.

“This is ridiculous and humiliating for the students, Yes, cheating is a problem, but this is not the way to solve it. Whoever approved this should be reprimanded,” one social media user wrote.

He says the school has only implemented the cardboard boxes as an experiment., and insists the students consented.

“There was no compulsion of any kind. You can see in the photograph that some students were not wearing it,” he said. “Some who wore it removed it after 15 minutes, some after 20 minutes and we ourselves asked them to remove it after one hour.”

Regional officials reportedly rushed to the school to complain as soon as they were made aware of the images. SC Peerjade deputy director of the local pre-University Education Board, described the practice as  “inhumane”.

“When I got a message on this, I immediately went to the college and ordered the management to stop the practice,” he said. “I also issued a notice to the college management and am contemplating disciplinary action against them for implementing this idea.”

School officials have since stopped the experiment.



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Thrift Shop finds — and things that would be better off missing (43 photos)

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#HudaKattan wins the Global Influencer of the Year award. #VogueWomenOfTheYear…

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#HudaKattan wins the Global Influencer of the Year award. #VogueWomenOfTheYear

 



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