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rockfan's avatar

Anyone else think it's strange that The Greatest Showman, a P. T. Barnum biopic, is being released after the company has recently folded and been under criticism for animal abuse?

Asked by rockfan (9357points) November 16th, 2017 from iPhone

I don’t think the film is a good move, creatively or financially.

What do you think?

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11 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Haven’t seen the movie, and I probably won’t.

But the movie was being made LONG BEFORE they announced that the circus would be closing. So it’s a little bit of a stretch to connect the two.

The PETA people have been after Barnum for decades; mostly about the elephants but about other animals as well. I’m not so sure that PETA was on the right side of this argument; but that’s water over the dam.

The fact is that P T Barnum was a fascinating guy with many creative ideas. So to do a biopic about him is not at all surprising, regardless of the circus today.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’ve been several times to the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport Connecticut. Interesting place and an interesting person.
Probably won’t see movie.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Stuff like that is crafted and held until just such a moment of convenience.
How do you think they have so much stuff to revisit when a celebrity dies?
If a celebrity is aged, and in poor health, they can have interviews, movies, bloopers, and all kinds of stuff ready to inject into programming within three hours of their passing.
The timing doesn’t seem at all odd or surprising to me.

rockfan's avatar


If that’s the case, then it’s really unfortunate timing for the film, especially since it looks like a cheesy love letter to the circus. I think a down to earth and historically factual biopic of P.T. Barnum’s life would be more interesting.

funkdaddy's avatar

I don’t understand why we judge people on the ethics of today rather than at the time they lived.

Was Moulin Rouge! a bad choice because cabarets have a dark side?

So I don’t think it’s strange to have a biopic of a well known person who made a lot of people happy for decades.

Muad_Dib's avatar

I’ll probably watch it. I grew up going to the circus every year (it would come through town the week of my birthday, so it was my gift from my grandfather several years in a row).

I’m glad I had the opportunity to see the circus as I did, through the innocent eyes of a child fascinated with animals, and in some ways I regret the fact that my child won’t have the same experience. They are fond memories, if somewhat tainted with the knowledge I’ve gained as an adult.

It will be easy for my kid to visit animal rescues, and watch nature documentaries online and on Netflix, and get his animal fix that way. The circus is a relic of a time when such things didn’t exist, and they absolutely did contribute, I think, to a societal adoration of strange beasts from far-off lands. Would we Westerners be so concerned with the poaching of elephants in Africa if we didn’t know them as the gentle giants they are through the circuses and zoos that showed us?

All in all, while abuse of individual animals is unquestionably wrong, I feel the circus did net a far better outcome for the species overall.

janbb's avatar

I agree with @Muad_Dib and @funkdaddy . The circus, P.T. Barnum’s especially, used to have a side show with pygmies, albinos, conjoined twins and other so=called “freaks” in cages. Tribal people once were brought and lived in the Museum of Natural History for years. While that is totally deplorable, it, as well as the treatment of circus animals was accepted at that time. Circuses also brought much excitement and knowledge of the wider world to rural America. I will judge the movie on its merits when it is reviewed but wouldn’t want to erase circus history from our culture. Perhaps an update at the end of the movie will highlight its current history but probably not.

Far better right now to fight against Trump’s reversal on the ban on importing trophy heads of African animals killed.

kritiper's avatar

No. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone. All possible plots and genres of all types have been played out to the max so now anything (the bottom of the barrel) that’s left is filmable.

LostInParadise's avatar

Regardless of whether or not it was planned, now is the perfect time to release the film. It harkens back to a bygone era, and it is appropriate to view it as a historical artifact. If the film raises questions as to the changing view of what should be considered entertaining, so much the better.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, it’s always a little bit dicey to release a bio while the subject is still living (or name your kid after a celebrity who still has time to disgrace herself). I would hazard a guess that once it was known the show was ending its final run, it made sense to delay release until afterward, just in case of some dramatic change.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Ehh, knowing how long movies from greenlight, to scripting, to pre-production, to casting, to filming, to post-production, to editing, to distribution and release (a process that often take several years) I’d say it’s coincidence.

Besides, I don’t think that Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey closed because of accusations of animal abuse (which have been around for ages), but rather because they just couldn’t remain competitive anymore. In their heyday there were few large-scale entertainments around. Nowadays they had to compete with an endless array of big time, arena-filling spectacle entertainments (some of which are owned by their own parent company). Next to things like Circe Du Solie, Disney on Ice and giant, laser-light and pyrotechnics-filled arena/stadium rock concerts the circus seems quaint.

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