'The Greatest Showman' Review, Pt. 1

'The Greatest Showman' Review, Pt. 1

A Failure of Historical Fantasy

"The Greatest Showman" is a movie that audiences loved but I did not. Putting aside the songs (they’re fine) and choreography (it’s good), the movie’s storyline is a mess that undermines the values it tries to uphold and botches historical detail to make itself marketable.

For the purposes of this article, however, I’ll forego historicity as a means of critiquing the story. This puts all creative responsibility in the filmmakers’ hands—at no point can they justify a weak plot point because “it happened in real life.” Telling the real story doesn’t matter. Telling a good fictional story does. I contend that, even apart from the facts of history, the narrative of "The Greatest Showman" does not hold up. It is neither a truthful real-life story nor a good fictional one.

Most of my lines of criticism intersect in the song, “This Is Me,” the film’s anthem of self-acceptance and empowerment. On its own, the song works. Within the story, it doesn’t. Barnum has just snubbed Lettie Lutz and her fellow circus freaks to gallivant with high society. They are justifiably hurt. He had presented himself to them as a sincere friend only to take advantage of their work and move up in the world without them. So what do they do to assert themselves—to prove that they won’t let some smooth-talking charlatan walk over them?

They quit Barnum’s circus and form their own!

Just kidding. They don’t quit. In fact, the song features the freaks huffily returning to Barnum’s circus, which… doesn’t empower them at all. They’re still making Barnum wealthy and letting him treat them like dirt. Even while the circus members sing, “I’m not scared to be seen / I make no apologies,” they are clearly scared to leave Barnum’s circus and engage with the world on their own terms. They have no way to retaliate or help themselves. The most they can do is send the message, “We’ll get back to work… but we won’t be happy about it!”

This is where the story’s relationship with history becomes tricky. It would be easy to say that the circus freaks don’t leave Barnum in the movie because they didn’t leave him in real life, but the movie already defies real life on a number of fronts. It isn’t a documentary—it’s an intentional reimagining of history. Why, then, would it be too anarchic to allow the circus freaks to strike out on their own? This would not only demonstrate their self-acceptance and empowerment visibly—it would also teach Barnum that his workers can and will walk out on him when he abuses their trust.

Nonetheless, the plot insists that the freaks stay under Barnum’s thumb. This decision serves only one purpose: to empower Barnum. The rest of Barnum’s arc—dealing with his fake affair, re-establishing the circus after the fire, handing off his position to Carlyle—revolves around his continued ownership of the circus. He never faces real, lasting consequences for his misconduct. The most he has to do later is offer a brief apology that his workers accept right away. Why don’t they question his sincerity? He’s lied to them for personal gain before—why wouldn’t he lie again?

Thus, “This Is Me” represents the hypocrisy of the film as historical fantasy: it claims to empower the underrepresented and oppressed, but in reality, it only empowers the title character. Barnum pulls all the strings. His workers don’t have the agency to leave him or even really confront him. Besides his wife, neither does anyone else. Even in promotional posters, Barnum is placed in the center under bright lighting while the circus members are to the side or in the shadows. Their stories are crushed by his story.

The movie’s failure as liberating fiction only becomes worse in light of the facts of history, which I’ll discuss in further detail next week.


Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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9 Eligible Princes You Need To Know About Now That Prince Harry Is Off The Market

You too could have a Meghan Markle fairytale

Prince Harry's royal wedding is officially over and there won't be another British royal wedding for quite some time now, as Prince George is way too young to start thinking about that. Fortunately, there are plenty of other countries with plenty of other princes that are still eligible bachelors at the moment. Lucky for you, I did my research and compiled a list of all the eligible princes you need to know about know that Prince Harry has tied the knot with Meghan Markle.

1. Prince Louis of Luxembourg (31)

Prince Louis is the third son of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg. He has recently become a bachelor again after his separation with his wife of 10 years, Princess Tessy.

Fun Fact: He graduated from Richmond, The American International University of London with a BA in Communications. He can also speak Luxembourgish (the fact that's even a language is fun fact by itself), French, German, and English fluently.

2. Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg (26)

Prince Sebastien is the youngest child of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg, so if you marry him, you'll probably never actually be queen because he's pretty far removed from the throne. However, he's relatively young and single, so best of luck.

Fun Fact: For some bizarre reason, this prince actually went to college in Ohio. He played rugby and graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2015. Now, he is back in his home country and is an officer in the Luxembourg Army.

3. Prince Phillipos of Greece and Denmark (34)

You read that correctly, Prince Phillipos is the prince of not one, but two countries. He is the youngest son of King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece and Denmark. Unfortunately, Greece abolished their monarchy, so he's a prince in name only there.

Fun Fact: Like Prince Sebastien, Prince Phillipos also went to college in the United States. He earned his B.A. in foreign relations from Georgetown University in 2008. Fortunately, for us American girls, he is actually still living in the US and he works in New York City as an analyst at Ortelius Capital.

4. Prince Albert of Thurn and Taxis (34)

Ever heard of Thurn and Taxis? No? Me neither. Anyways, Prince Albert is from the House of Thurn and Taxis, which is essentially a very old German aristocratic family. He is the son of Prince Johannes XI of Thurn and Taxis and Countess Gloria of Schonburg Glauchau. His family is well known for their breweries and castles, so unless you're gluten-free, you can't really complain.

Fun Fact: He's not just a prince. He's also a racecar driver and 10 years ago he was ranked 11th on Forbes Magazine's List of The 20 Hottest Young Royals.

5. Prince Mateen of Brunei (26)

Prince Mateen is basically like all the guys you already know, except he's royalty. He's the prince of Brunei, which is a small country on the island of Borneo, south of Vietnam. He is one of the five sons of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and he also has seven sisters. Maybe that's a little different than the guys you know, but one thing he takes very seriously, just like most frat guys, is his Instagram.

Fun Fact: Mateen enjoys playing polo, flying in his private plane, cuddling cute wild animals, and keeping up his Insta game with 890k followers. You can follow him @tmski.

6. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai (35)

Sheikh Hamdan also has a killer Instagram with 6.3 million followers. Anyways, Sheikh Hamdan is the billionaire crown prince of Dubai and the second son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and essentially the king of Dubai (Emir). He's actually next in line for the throne because his older brother died in 2015.

Fun Fact: Hamdan's hobbies include skydiving, zip lining, and diving, just to name a few, so if you're an adrenaline junkie, Sheikh Hamdan is the prince for you.

7. Prince Hussein of Jordan (23)

Prince Hussain is the son of the extremely beautiful, Queen Rania and Abdullah II of Jordan and next in line for the Jordanian throne. At 23, he's already a second lieutenant in the Jordanian Armed Forces and he was the youngest person ever to chair a UN Security Council Meeting

Fun Fact: Like Prince Phillippos, Prince Hussain also graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. Also, like Prince Mateen and Prince Hamdan, he's Insta famous with 1.3 million followers and you can follow him @alhusseinjo.

8. Prince Constantine-Alexios of Greece and Denmark (19)

Like Prince Phillipos, Prince Constantine-Alexios also has two countries. Lucky for us though, he is also living in the US right now attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (like pretty much every other prince, amirite?) He is the oldest son of Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

Fun Fact: He's Prince William's godson, so that's pretty neat. However, if that wasn't cool enough, you might like to know that this Greek/Danish prince was actually born in New York. Oh yeah, you can also follow him on Instagram @alexiosgreece where he has 88.7k followers.

9. Prince Joachim of Belgium (26)

Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este is the third child of Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. Although he bears the title, "Prince of Belgium," he is also Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, and Prince of Modena. Unfortunately, he'll probably never actually be king in any of these countries as he is ninth in line to the Belgian throne.

Fun Fact: Prince Joachim has degrees in economics, management, and finance, but he decided to join the Nautical School in Brugge after completing college and is currently an officer in the Belgian Navy.

Hope is not lost for all you girls dreaming of finding a Prince Charming that's literally a prince. After reviewing the data, my best advice is to transfer to Georgetown where princes are basically around every corner.

Cover Image Credit: @meghantheduchessofsussexstyle/Instagram

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Your Summer Nannying Experience, Explained By 'iCarly'

If you've never felt like Carly trying to keep a wild Sam under control, you're not a nanny.


Nannying is one of those jobs that people either love or hate. If you love the kids you watch, you enjoy the activities you have them do, and you work hard at making their summer memorable and amazing, nannying is usually pretty awesome. I love, love, love nannying in the summer.

Of course, when you're working with kids, you never know what you're gonna get from day to day. It's about as I predictable as, well, "iCarly."

Here's your summer job nannying, described by the cast of "iCarly":

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