Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 11 (2):224-237 (2017)

Two years before the opening of the Paralympic Games in London in 2012, the British TV network Channel 4 launched a campaign called Freaks of Nature. As part of the campaign they produced the short film Meet the Superhumans by director Tom Tagholm. The film became an immediate success, but was also criticised for portraying the Paralympians as ‘freaks’ and for reducing the Paralympics to a ‘freak show’. But was it wrong to describe the Paralympics as a ‘freak show’? Is there even a point of using the term ‘freak show’ in relation to sports? There might be, and that is what I am discussing in this paper. To be more specific, I am proposing that the term ‘freak show’ can challenge and destabilise common aesthetic views in sport, simply by the adding of abject dimensions to the athletic performances. From this one can claim that the Paralympics reconnects to the freak show-tradition of the past. And that, in itself, can have a moral and political impact.
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DOI 10.1080/17511321.2017.1286375
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