Words: Sideshow, Freak Show, Circus

Words: Sideshow, Freak Show, Circus short film opening

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In this short silent film, Toni-Lee Sangastiano presents media headlines that employ the words “freak show, sideshow, and circus” as negative metaphors in politics and business, based on selected data from daily Google Alerts for those keywords, between 2016 and 2021.

Watch the silent film:

Sangastiano analyses these metaphors on her website, in contrast to the actual meaning of those words in the context of the freakshow: “The word ‘sideshow’ (…) is most often used in politics with a negative connotation — a distraction, unimportant, less than, etc. Sideshow is also niche car culture event, which originated on the West Coast and has spread to other areas in the United States. In the music world, sideshows are also referred to as a second stage for events”. “The word “freak show” is most often connected to sports and the popular tv series such as FX’s American Horror Story: Freak Show. Derisive and negative connotations in media imply deviance, the grotesque, extreme athleticism, unbelievable, the uncanny, abnormality, inhuman, etc”. “Circus is one of the oldest forms of entertainment in history and connects to both the sideshow and the freak show. In media, the word “circus” is used to describe chaos, distracting spectacles, etc”.