‘The Greatest Showman’: Showing the Importance of Individuality

A message lasting much longer than a 2-hour movie

Opinion of Hannah Gellar

It is easy to forget about reality with a bucket of popcorn and a large soda in your hands. Watching a movie on a large screen reclined back, laughing, smiling, or crying, I have never been moved enough to spend hours reflecting on the moral of a movie; that was until I saw The Greatest Showman. It is easy to forget about reality with a bucket of popcorn and a large soda in your hands. Watching a movie on a large screen reclined back, laughing, smiling, or crying, I have never been moved enough to spend hours reflecting on the moral of a movie; that was until I saw The Greatest Showman.                The movie tells the story of P.T. Barnum putting together the first modern circus. The plot sets up Barnum’s struggle for success through his confrontation with living in poverty as a child to being oppressed by the world of wealth that his bride-to-be has come from.

Barnum decides to create a show that is later called a circus that includes what society have labeled as the freaks. From a “bearded lady,” a very heavy set man, and a little person named Tom Thumb, Barnum gives a purpose and shines a light on people who are out of the ordinary.

Through his story Barnum struggles with his acceptance into the higher class and discovers the importance of being who you are born to be. Weaved into each of the songs and dialogue were empowering messages about embracing what makes you unique. With a fantastic sequence featuring all of the acts joining together to sing “This is Me,” the movie provided a really uplifting and empowering moment that made me reflect on individuality and judgment in my own world.

Let’s face it, almost all of us have tried to do, wear, or say something to allow us to fit in. Each character that was featured in Barnum’s circus had something they once were ashamed of, rather than recognizing this trait to be a personal strength. The stigma behind changing who you are to be like everyone else has overpowered the importance of self-love. I too can admit that I have been caught in the trap of changing myself due to wanting to be accepted, however it is time to look at what we see as our own individual weaknesses, and view them as our own personal strengths.

When Barnum invites a little person who has been laughed at by society into his circus, the young man instantly declines. That is until Barnum says the most powerful line in the movie: “Nobody has ever made a difference being like everybody else.”            Whether the question pops up on a college application, a job interview, or an open discussion, we are constantly asked what our personal weakness is. Yes, we are all human and nobody is perfect, but what is not asked enough is how your weakness can become your personal strength

Differences should not be seen as barriers, rather we should encourage them and portray them as human strengths. As a society, I have noticed that we put physical appearance before considering personality. When asked about what my own weakness was, there was no hesitation in my answer. Yet, when I was asked about a strength, I struggled to think of something that I was strong at. That was not until I realized that my own weakness was also my own  strength.  Whether it is physical or emotional appearance, society has found a way to allow people to look down to what sets somebody apart.

Think about it. Has there ever been a time where someone’s colored hair, tattoos, or body piercings have made you develop an opinion about someone before giving them a chance? When first meeting someone, have you put labels on them based on what they were wearing. Maybe they were too fat, too skinny, too feminine, too nervous, or too nerdy.

The list goes on and on, but just like Barnum, we need to start embracing these differences rather than making people feel ashamed for being who they are.

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