Freak Show

P.T. Barnum didn’t invent freak shows, but he elevated them to the next level. He was the ultimate promoter and he knew what people liked. Freak show detractors said, “What about human rights? What about the dignity of the performers?” The freaks tended to respond, “Dignity, schmignity. Have you seen our paychecks?” But circuses themselves have fallen on hard times and sideshows with them.
But the freak show never really lost its appeal. It just goes by a different name: Reality TV. Clearly, there wouldn’t be much drama if sensible people were stuck in an unrealistic situation in front of TV cameras. I don’t know what the personality disorder criteria are for participant selection, but they have to put the “fun” in dysfunctional somehow. And so we have Snooki’s booki. I would like to think that Snooki is a persona that Nicole Polizzi puts on for the benefit of the Jersey Shore audience, and that while everyone is laughing at Snooki’s book, Nicole is laughing all the way to the bank. I choose to believe that, because otherwise it would make me sad to think that Snooki really believed that her book was good literature that people would choose to read, right after they finished that Janet Evanovich or Sue Grafton book. And for that to happen, more than one person would have had to have been in on taking advantage of an intellectually challenged person. And that’s just mean. But as David Hannum (not P.T. Barnum) once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”