Photo courtesy of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

Arts & Entertainment

Three-Ring Bind

The American circus is dead.

1. If you are forced to add the word “extreme” to an existing product to create excitement for that product, then you have already lost. Unless you work for Mountain Dew, in which case you lost before you even had a chance to lose by adding “extreme” to anything.

2. If you decide to spell it “Xtreme,” then you have super-lost. I don’t know, whatever is worse than lost. Went back in time, accidentally prevented your parents from ever meeting, and erased yourself right out of existence. Lost.

Related: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings its Circus Xtreme to North Texas this month (August 3–14 at the American Airlines Center; August 18–21 at the Fort Worth Convention Center). Do you care about the circus? You don’t. Maybe if you have very young children. Maybe you thought about it for a second when it was announced that the circus would be phasing out elephants from the show by 2018, after almost 145 years. Point is, you care about it a lot less than your parents did, your kids care about it even less, and their kids will not care about it at all.

Why? Well, it’s not 1946. The marketplace is crowded now, with little room for relics from a bygone age. Eventually, things like the circus (and the Harlem Globetrotters, sort of a basketball circus) outlive their usefulness. It’s okay. The elephants don’t mind.

A version of this piece appears in the August issue of D Magazine.

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