Dwarf Tossing in the Movies
Since the release of Wolf of Wall Street on Christmas Day 2013, a lot of exasperation has been expressed over its opening scene. In the movie, a room full of boisterous stockbrokers is shown taking turns throwing two dwarfs wearing helmets at a large dartboard. The main character (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) offers a $25,000 reward to the first “cock-sucker to nail a bullseye”. Protests were made to Paramount before the film was released, imploring them to remove the scene in question. The Little People of America released a statement and there were efforts to contact Leonardo di Caprio personally. Now that the movie is an Oscar candidate for Best Picture, the controversy has brewed up again. The arguments are basically that a film showing a vile activity such as dwarf tossing shouldn’t be considered for an Academy Award.
Now that Dwarf Dad has seen the scene in question my initial reaction is frankly, “Who cares”? So you have a movie based on a true story about a guy who comes across as basically a despicable human being: alcoholic drug user, lying to people to steal their money, cavorting with prostitutes (and snorting cocaine off their naked bodies), etc. And this guy participated in or organized a dwarf tossing event, which the dwarf community largely and rightly despises as a degrading and inhumane activity (not including the serious risk to a little person’s health when tossed). What would you have expected the movie to show, the guy going to church, feeding the homeless and tutoring at-risk children? I actually think it fits very well that a human low-life would be the type of person who would participate in such activity.
In my opinion, showing dwarf tossing in a movie does not by itself glamorize the activity. Now if you had a stand-up protagonist that was advocating how dwarf tossing is a righteous sport, allowing for gainful employment of the otherwise hapless Little People, maybe I could see the issue. In fact, according to an article in Mother Jones Danny Porush claims the dwarf-tossing event never happened. “It’s not as crazy as it sounds,” Porush is quoted as saying. “I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna toss the little bastard in any odd direction.” Porush admits they hired dwarfs to attend and mingle at a party but “we never abused (or threw) the midgets in the office; we were friendly to them,” he emphasizes. “There was no physical abuse.” Even Porush’s denials come across as insensitive and offensive. Surely he by now knows the term “midget” is considered derogatory. If he truly wanted to improve his image for this article, he would have chosen the more acceptable “dwarf” or “little person”.
I have to acknowledge a wide variety of opinions in the little people community regarding dwarfs and their involvement in the entertainment industry. In reality, not everybody can be a Peter Dinklage (a true actor with genuine skills), Meredith Eaton, or even a Verne Troyer. Many little people make their living wearing Barney-type costumes, dancing in Broadway shows, or even twerking with Miley Cyrus. The majority of these people are included, frankly, because of their height and possibly their shock value. But so be it. If that’s how people want to pay the rent or feed their family, that’s their right.
Plenty of us are doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, and other professionals. If other LP’s want to be tossed at a dart-board, we have the right to vilify and boycott the venues who encourage such activity. But if a movie wants to show that a ex-convict engaged in dwarf tossing along with along with other deviant behavior? I think it only helps our cause by showing the type of person who would enjoy it.
Dwarf Mom’s take in summary is that I got bored in the first 15 minutes of watching this film. Snore-a-bore! Ohhhh, they’re tossing a dwarf and then . . . exploiting drugs, sex, prostitution, drugs with prostitution, wealth, drugs and wealth, women, and treating people like dirt “you are lower than pondscum”. Not revolutionary in Hollywood.
At first when I heard of this film, I was all up in arms, getting my emails ready to send to Scorsese and DiCaprio. Finally, Oscar night came and the topic cropped up again in the dwarfism community. The short scene on dwarf tossing did offend me, trust me. Don’t call me a prude because I don’t like watching women being treated like a coffee table to snort drugs. It offends me as a woman of color with dwarfism even more because I am a mom.
When my young children ask me why everyone is so upset about this film, I’ll just say because it offends everyone and shows no positive role models. No princesses. No love story. No outright comedic talent. Then, I’ll point to the three magazine covers that Peter Dinklage is on and explain that HE is just one of the talented, intelligent people who represents our community in entertainment.
Now, let’s focus on SB 606 and how THAT affects my family.