The Grotesque Body in Sport

Bakhtin's (in Hemphill, 1995) conception of the grotesque:

images the human body as multiple, bulging, over- or under-sized, protuberant and incomplete. The openings and orifices of this carnival body are emphasized, not its closure and finish. It is an image of impure corporeal bulk with its orifices (mouth, flared nostrils, anus) yawning wide and its lower regions (belly, legs, feet, buttocks and genitals) given priority over its upper regions (head, 'spirit', reason).

When David Lynch created The Elephant Man, was he foreshadowing society's acceptance of the grotesque body in sport, which we see in the hypermuscularity of the WWF, the anorexia of women's gymnastics, or the silicone implants of much sports marketing?


Hemphill, D. (1995). Revisioning sport spectatorism. Journal of the philosophy of sport, 22. 48-60.