'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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50 Quotes from the Best Vines

If you're picturing the vines in your head, you're doing it right

In 2017 we had to say goodbye to one of the best websites to ever roam the internet: Vine. In case you have been living under a rock since 2013, Vine was -(sad face)- a website and app that took the internet and the app store by storm in Winter 2013. It contained 6-second videos that were mostly comedy- but there were other genres including music, sports, cool tricks and different trends. Vine stars would get together and plan out a vine and film it till they got it right.

It was owned by Twitter and it was shut down because of so many reasons; the viners were leaving and making money from Youtube, there was simply no money in it and Twitter wanted us to suffer.

There's been a ton of threads on Twitter of everyone's favorite vines so I thought I'd jump in and share some of my favorites. So without further ado, here are some quotes of vines that most vine fanatics would know.

1. "AHH...Stahhp. I coulda dropped mah croissant"

2. "Nate how are those chicken strips?" "F%#K YA CHICKEN STRIPS.....F%#K ya chicken strips!"

3. "Road work ahead? Uh Yea, I sure hope it does"

4. "Happy Crimus...." "It's crismun..." "Merry crisis" "Merry chrysler"

5. "...Hi Welcome to Chili's"

6. "HoW dO yOu kNoW wHaT's gOoD fOr mE?" "THAT'S MY OPINIONNN!!!.."

7."Welcome to Bible Study. We're all children of Jesus... Kumbaya my looordd"

8. Hi my name's Trey, I have a basketball game tomorrow. Well I'm a point guard, I got shoe game..."

9. "It's a avocadooo...thanks"

10. "Yo how much money do you have?" "69 cents" "AYE you know what that means?" "I don't have enough money for chicken nuggets"

11. "Hurricane Katrina? More like Hurricane Tortilla."

12. "Hey Tara you want some?" "This b*%th empty. YEET!"

13. "Get to Del Taco. They got a new thing called Freesha-- Free-- Freeshavaca do"

14. "Mothertrucker dude that hurt like a buttcheek on a stick"

15. "Two brooss chillin in a hot tub 5 feet apart cuz they're not gay"

16. "Jared can you read number 23 for the class?" "No I cannot.... What up I'm Jared, I'm 19 and I never f#@%in learned how to read."

17. "Not to be racist or anything but Asian people SSUUGHHH"

18. 18. "I wanna be a cowboy baby... I wanna be a cowboy baby"

19. "Hey, I'm lesbian" "I thought you were American"

20. "I spilled lipstick in your Valentino bag" "you spilled- whaghwhha- lipstick in my Valentino White bag?"

21. "What's better than this? Guys bein dudes"

22. "How'd you get these bumps? ya got eggzma?" "I got what?" "You got eggzma?"

23. "WHAT ARE THOSEEEEE?" "THEY are my crocs!"

24. "Can I get a waffle? Can I please get a waffle?"

25. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAVEN!" "I can't sweem"

26. "Say Coloradoo" "I'M A GIRAFFE!!"

27. "How much did you pay for that taco?" Aight yo you know this boys got his free tacoo"

28. *Birds chirping* "Tweekle Tweekle"

29. "Girl, you're thicker than a bowl of oatmeal"

30. "I brought you Frankincense" "Thank you" "I brought you Myrrh" "Thank you" "Mur-dur" "huh...Judas..no"

31. "Sleep? I don't know about sleep...it's summertime" "You ain't go to bed?" "Oh she caught me"

32. "All I wanna tell you is school's not important... Be whatever you wanna be. If you wanna be a dog...RUFF. You know?"33. "Oh I like ya accent where you from?" "I'm Liberian" "Oh, my bad *whispering* I like your accent..."

34. "Next Please" "Hello" "Sir, this is a mug shot" "A mug shot? I don't even drink coffee"

35. "Hey did you happen to go to class last week?" "I have never missed a class"

36. "Go ahead and introduce yourselves" "My name is Michael with a B and I've been afraid of insects my entire-" "Stop, stop, stop. Where?" "Hmm?" "Where's the B?" "There's a bee?"

37. "There's only one thing worse than a rapist...Boom" "A child" "No"

38. "Later mom. What's up me and my boys are going to see Uncle Kracker...GIVE ME MY HAT BACK JORDAN! DO YOU WANNA SEE UNCLE KRACKER OR NO?

39. "Dad look, it's the good kush." This is the dollar store, how good can it be?"

40. "Zach stop...Zach stop...You're gonna get in trouble. Zach"

41. "CHRIS! Is that a weed? "No this is a crayon-" I'm calling the police" *puts 911 into microwave* "911 what's your emergency"

42. "WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? "

43. *Blowing vape on table* * cameraman blows it away* "ADAM"

44. "Would you like the spider in your hand?" "Yea" "Say please" "Please" *puts spider in hand* *screams*

45. "Oh hi, thanks for checking in I'm still a piece of garrbaagge"

46. *girl blows vape* "...WoW"

47. *running* "...Daddy?" "Do I look like-?"

48. *Pours water onto girl's face" "Hello?"

49. "Wait oh yes wait a minute Mr. Postman" "HaaaAHH"

50. "...And they were roommates" "Mah God they were roommates"

I could literally go on forever because I just reference vines on a daily basis. Rest in peace Vine

Cover Image Credit: Vine

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Perfection Is The Downfall Of Humankind

If there's something about you that you don't like, you can always change or even embrace it.


While it may be difficult to admit, there are times where you don't exactly love yourself. It is important to remember that it happens to all of us on occasion, which may be even harder to believe.

All humans are bestowed with an innate desire to be "perfect." This is a very dangerous flaw that has been ingrained in us. It is vital to remember that the concept of "perfect" is subjective. Not only this but that achieving "perfection" is impossible. Once you think you've achieved the perfect body or hair or what have you, you will absolutely find something else about yourself that you don't like and then want to change. When you don't embrace what you naturally have, you will always be disappointed in yourself.

This problem with seeking perfection that we have directly stems from comparison. The very moment you start comparing yourself to others around you is when you become more critical. One person's strength can be seen as your weakness but that leads to a narrowed view of your strengths. Two people's great qualities aren't going to be the same. Neither are their respective weak qualities. These qualities can determine what you're passionate about or what you can contribute to society. People need to contribute different things for a more well-rounded humanity.

Accept what you can't change, and strive to better what you can change.

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