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YMMV / The Black Stork

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  • Broken Aesop: In some ways, the film unintentionally promotes the social model of disability. Despite the title cards' insistence that Leffingwell Jr.'s genes make him defective both physically and mentally, there's no evidence that he was born insane, and his deformities only rarely cause him any inconvenience that doesn't involve other people. In fact, it seems like he would have turned out fine if not for everyone treating him like a freak.
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  • Values Dissonance: The film features eugenicist Dr. Harry Haiselden playing a fictionalized version of himself. The film has a pro-eugenics message with Haiselden's character portrayed as doing the right thing for allowing a "defective" newborn baby to die (this was based on something Haiselden actually did, by the way). The movie's tagline was, "Kill defectives, save the nation and see The Black Stork." The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures had almost banned the film for being too graphic, and had some of the most lurid images, along with references to God, taken out. Depicting an infant being left to die as good, however, was allowed. Both famed defense lawyer Clarence Darrow and Helen Keller (herself often deemed "defective" over being deaf and mute) defended the idea (Darrow though later turned anti-eugenics at least, while Keller did not seem concerned by the fact that, under this standard, she could have been allowed to die as well after becoming disabled). Some of the title cards read like Nazi propaganda, with some characters preaching the importance of race betterment and lamenting the expense of defectives' care. Not at all coincidentally, the film went out of circulation just as word of the Nazis' atrocities was starting to reach America. This similarity is not a coincidence: Nazis took many ideas from the American and British eugenicists. For instance, the model eugenics law Harry Loughlin wrote inspired the "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring" Hitler issued, which legalized involuntary sterilization of all disabled and mentally ill people under rulings by special "Health Courts". Loughlin even got an honorary degree from a German university in 1935 for his work on the "science" of "racial cleansing". They used the same reasoning for their own "euthanasia" program, Aktion T4.

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