By in Movies & TV

The Growing Trend For TV Freak Shows

Roll up, roll up, see the dwarfs, bearded ladies, and people suffering from elephantiasis – we may even have a few Siamese twins on show.

At one time such circus curiosity shows were common, until it was recognized that they were just cruel exploitation, reducing human beings to zoo specimens to be prodded, poked, abused and stared at.

Now such shows are back, not at travelling fairs, circuses and carnivals, but on TV. Last night alone my viewing options included a look at Britain’s fattest men, medical studies of people living with unusual cysts, or elephantiasis and a woman covering her entire body in tattoos.

Though presented as documentaries, there is no doubt this was pure voyeuristic exploitation and viewer-titillation. The people on display obviously need the money but the motive for such shows is pure sensationalism – the programme makers no better than Victorian fairground hawkers – suffice to say, I chose not to watch any of these programmes.

Arthur Chappell

Image Credit » My TV set, taken by me.

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scheng1 wrote on January 13, 2015, 7:50 AM

All these shows are meant to draw in advertisers that pay big money.

GedWrites wrote on January 13, 2015, 7:51 AM

Can you remember a movie called Freaks, a black and white one I think they band it back in the 80's .. awful it was.

Hollyhocks100 wrote on January 13, 2015, 8:01 AM

Time to get out the DVD´s and videos then ?

arthurchappell wrote on January 13, 2015, 8:08 AM

oh yes, made by Todd Browning in the 1930's as a horror movie - it is very creepy

redbarlie wrote on January 13, 2015, 8:40 AM

I agree with you,I just cannot bare to watch any of these shows and I am finding that it is the same with the overweight and anyone who is on benefits.I feel like these people are just being exploited in exchange for their fifteen minutes of fame.

Kat- wrote on January 13, 2015, 8:46 AM

If that's all you have to chose from it's time to turn off the TV and turn on the music.

maxeen wrote on January 13, 2015, 9:16 AM

Good excuse to have a guitar session and let the crazy world be unseen..

Koalemos wrote on January 13, 2015, 9:51 AM

I agree that there are too many such shows on television, which I avoid like the proverbial plague.

caretakerray wrote on January 13, 2015, 11:53 AM

I agree. It is just sensationalism! What is so entertaining about people who look different?

seren3 wrote on January 13, 2015, 12:34 PM

Far beyond Hoarders and Parking Wars! It has gone where no other reality show dared to go. I will not give this show a second of viewing. Sad.

WordChazer wrote on January 13, 2015, 1:15 PM

You left out the biggest freak show of them all, the artificially constructed world that is Big Brother...

BodieMor wrote on January 13, 2015, 8:35 PM

For me this kind of program is like watching only bad news. Profoundly depressing. And it shows such an unfortunate side of human nature. I mean, I don't understand what draws viewers. When I was a child a small circus came to town - an exciting event! My cousin and I went in to see the freak show. Both of us were shattered, crying on the way home. But at school the next day a group of kids, mostly boys, were laughing, having gone through several times shouting insults at the sad folk on display. (Time for a reread of "Stranger in a Strange Land".) Did maligning those people make them feel better about themselves?

Telynor wrote on January 15, 2015, 10:38 PM

I agree with you on this. I find them to be rather repulsive -- the shows, I mean -- and the sad fact that humanity suffers from schadefreuden.

arthurchappell wrote on January 16, 2015, 6:01 AM

Heinlan's Stranger In A Strange Land is one of my favourite novels ever

JohnRoberts wrote on January 29, 2015, 11:01 AM

Did you watch the just ended American Horror Story: Freak Show which was heavily inspired by the classic film Freaks?