So, what to make of the latest movie The Greatest Showman featuring people with physical differences? If your/your family’s life is touched by disability I guess it’s hard to watch this movie and it not move you in a deeper way than someone who just went to the cinema to see Hugh Jackman sing….
On the one hand it had some great songs and there is a lot of power in the song ‘This is me’ (“I make no apologies, this is me”).
On the other hand, the reality of these circuses or ‘freak shows’ was that many exhibitors had no other way to make a living, though reading around the topic of freak shows, several exhibitors did go on to earn a lot of money which opened up their futures.
Disability has an uncomfortable past…
What the movie does make you imagine is that there was a community/camaraderie between the artists, perhaps similar to what we feel when we go to places where non disabled people are the minority (Naidex, Mobility Roadshow, disability arts and festivals)? We hope that there was some truth in that…
We wish that Philip Bailey (Efron) had fallen in love with Lettie Lutz (Settle), now THAT would have been a great story to tell, but perhaps too much for your average joe cinema goer?
We also shouldn’t forget that many documentaries on Channel 4 and 5 for example still are a kind of freakshow, displaying the very private elements of disabled people’s lives….
And some actors like Mat Fraser have chosen to star in a series about a freak show (American Horror Story: Freak Show): “I was happy to portray a freak in the same way that black actors are happy to portray slaves. It’s history. But now let’s see if they’re going to have me as neighbor, father, friend, lawyer. I’m kind of impatient for the time when we’re going to start cleverly using impairment for [deep] psychological exploration. But I think we’ve got to wait like 10 years before that happens.”
We agree with Mat, let’s see what happens…for now we can enjoy the music which has power and can strenghtn and motivate us and touch our souls.
What did you love or hate about it? Feel free to comment below…