Hollywood has perfected the art of creating illusions to draw in and mesmerize an audience. And although Hollywood’s fantastical creations often accurately depict (albeit with great artistic license) important events in history or convey a moral message, there are other films which miss the mark entirely and falsely represent the truth.
Some may have seen the previews for The Greatest Showman, a film which stars Hugh Jackman as circus ringleader P.T. Barnum. Zac Efron and Zendaya are also featured to appeal to a younger crowd. The film portrays Barnum in a glorified light as the man who invented “show business” and provided a family-like environment for circus performers. However, this inaccurate depiction masks the truth that Barnum severely exploited both humans and animals to garner a massive profit over his lifetime.
A petition on Care2 explains how Barnum chartered a ship full of nine elephants from Sri Lanka to become subjects of his shows, and conditions on the ship were so inhumane that one elephant died. The others were forced to succumb to constant brutal physical abuse with bullhooks and hot pokers as they unwillingly submitted to orders to perform unnatural “tricks.” And what many people do not know is that Barnum exploited and degraded African Americans and individuals with disabilities, and despite slavery already being abolished in New York at the time, Barnum “purchased” an African American woman and made her perform as a slave in the circus without any pay.
The end of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circuses last year made major national headlines, and several U.S. cities like Los Angeles and New York City, as well as many countries around the world, have banned the use of wild animals in circuses; so it is safe to say that the general public is at least somewhat aware that “The Greatest Show on Earth” was not so great after all.
The film has been nominated for three Golden Globes, including one for Best Motion Picture and one for Hugh Jackman for Best Performance by an Actor. If you are upset that P.T. Barnum is being represented in such a positive spotlight, please take a moment to sign the petition and tell the Golden Globes that The Greatest Showman represents cruelty in the highest form and has no place being honored at the esteemed awards ceremony.
Image Source: Pixabay