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Abstract

SHAPIRO, CAROLINE BELLE. Images of Little People in Film and Television. (Under the direction
of Ann Metcalf.)

The purpose of this research is to describe how contemporary and historical images of Little People in
film and television affect the short-statured community. A survey was conducted of a sample of Little
People to gauge opinions and reactions to depictions of short-statured individuals in mass media.
Furthermore, interviews were conducted with several Little People currently employed in the acting
profession. While the respondents viewed many past and current images of Little People in film and
television as harmful to the short-statured community, the majority believed that depictions of Little
People had improved in recent years. The respondents offered advice to those within their community
on how to further improve the situation.
Images of Little People in
Film and Television

by
Caroline Belle Shapiro

A thesis submitted to the Undergraduate Faculty of


Mills College
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the Degree of
Bachelor of Arts

Anthropology/Sociology

Oakland, California

2009
Personal Statement

Many with whom I have come into contact during the course of conducting this research may

be surprised to learn that I am not a Little Person. I am approximately 5' 6", which, for someone of my

age, sex, and genetic background, is not considered exceptional in either direction. My parents are not

Little People; indeed I know of no members of my family who are or ever were Little People.

Furthermore, I have no close friends who are Little People. In fact, until I chose to undertake this topic

as the subject of my undergraduate thesis, I had never knowingly spoken to a Little Person in my life.

This was not by choice, of course. I had just not had the opportunity yet.

Trying to determine what initially sparked my interest in the topic of Little People in film and

television is a little like playing a game of connect-the-dots. I suppose it all started when I saw the

movie Freaks at age 18 and was so enthralled that I became literally obsessed with learning everything

I could about its nontraditional cast. Made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1932 by horror auteur Tod

Browning, Freaks was unique in its portrayal of real contemporary sideshow performers of various

talents and physical attributes. This included people born without arms, a woman with a full beard, and,

of course, Little People. Though many consider the film to be exploitative and demeaning in its

portrayal of these subjects, I wanted to know more about these sideshow performers as human beings.

Who were they? Where did they come from? What was it like to live your entire life on display?

Whether we like to admit it or not, the phenomenon of the sideshow is a part of our culture's history.

Refusing to examine or acknowledge it does not change the fact that it happened, and that these people

lived through it on a daily basis. Worse, denying the existence of this practice dishonors the memory of

the people who gave their lives to performing in "the show." Therefore I decided to make it my mission

to find out everything I could about how these people lived and worked, so that I could bring their

stories to life and afford them the respect in death which they were so often denied in life.

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Figure 1: Harry and Daisy Earles in the 1932 film Freaks.
Source: http://www.silverscreenings.net/screens/freaks/images/pdvd_002.jpg.

The two performers in Freaks who fascinated me the most were Harry and Daisy Earles (Fig.

1), both people of short stature, who portrayed a romantic couple in the film but in reality were brother

and sister. Born originally in Stolpen, Germany, they had immigrated to the United States along with

their two sisters Gracie and Tiny, also Little People, to perform collectively as the Doll Family. Though

Harry was the only one among them to sincerely pursue a career in film, they all appeared together as

Munchkins in MGM's 1939 production of The Wizard of Oz. My interest in the Dolls peaked my

curiosity in the stories of the other actors who portrayed the Munchkins. It also led me to start a

collection of vintage sideshow postcards, first of just the Doll Family and later of other performing

Little Person troupes. I became immersed in the history of Little People on stage and in film, and

before I knew it I was watching every old movie starring a Little Person that I could get my hands on.

One of the most bizarre examples of the use of Little People in film can be seen in the 1938

"musical Western" The Terror of Tiny Town (Fig. 2). This odd little flick can only be described as

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tangerine

Figure 2: A movie poster for 1938's The Terror of Tiny Town.


Source: http://www.moviemachine.nl/images/movies/terror%20of%20tiny%20town1.jpg.

"dwarfsploitation," a term not coined by me but definitely embraced. Showcasing a cast made up

entirely of short-statured actors, the film basically just shows the Little People riding around on

Shetland ponies and walking underneath the swinging doors of the saloon. This was one of the

stupidest films I had ever seen. Really, if we are meant to believe that the entire population of this town

is short-statured, why would they build the saloon doors at that height in the first place? Nevertheless,

someone made this film, and they must have had a reason for doing so. Furthermore, a DVD of it is

currently commercially available, meaning that people must actually still like this stuff. Rather than

being interested in the plot of the film itself, what fascinates me most about The Terror of Tiny Town is

what it says about our society that we once, and apparently still do, find this entertaining. Why does the

hegemonic average-statured culture find the idea of a Little Person so funny? Why, at one point in our

history, would we have made an entire film about them just to get a cheap laugh?

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It then occurred to me that this practice, unlike the phenomenon of the sideshow, does not seem

to be entirely extinct in our culture. A great deal of so-called "comedic" motion pictures still rely on

Little Person antics to provide their humor. Then again, we also see a handful of titles emerging today

-- The Station Agent, "Little People, Big World" -- which show progress toward recognizing Little

People as the human beings they are. It is interesting to me that, with so many battles fought and

ostensibly won over accurate representation of minority groups, this one is only just beginning. While

we have become socially and politically conscious of so many kinds of injustice, it frightens me to

think that many films and TV shows -- and the people who watch them -- still view Little People as

mere sight gags and not as living, feeling human beings.

With this in mind, I became interested in doing research specifically within the short-statured

community after viewing Steven Delano's brilliant 2006 "P.O.V." documentary "No Bigger Than a

Minute." I received a homemade VHS copy of the film in the mail while in my sophomore year at

college. Knowing of my interest in Little People, my aunt had recorded it for me of her own accord and

sent it my way. While I was grateful to her, at first I was not particularly enthused. The Discovery

Channel and TLC had already done a lot of nonfiction programming about Little People, and I had seen

it all. While it was definitely still a topic that interested me, and while I recognize that this type of

programming is crucial in helping the general public to understand short-statured issues, there are only

so many times you can watch a Little Person climb up on a stool to reach their average-height sink

before you get the picture. But this film was the first of these major network documentary pieces on

dwarfism to be actually made by a Little Person. I was entranced. Not only was Delano able to talk

about being short-statured from his own experience, but he also sat down with other Little People to

talk about how they are viewed and portrayed by the average-statured world. Best of all, he interviewed

actors about their role in the film industry, with some very interesting and mixed results.

Steven Delano's work raised more questions for me than it answered, questions to which I was

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desperate to find the answers. Being an Anthropology major gave me the tools with which to ask them,

and being a Film Studies minor gave me the historical background to understand what I was talking

about. This project is not just another grade for me. For whatever reason, this is a topic about which I

have become deeply passionate. Working with the short-statured community has only increased my

respect for them and my desire to be of service to them. My only wish is that I have done their

community justice in the creation of this project.

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Acknowledgments

This paper would not have been possible without the dedicated assistance of Gary Arnold of

Little People of America, who supported this research from the start and provided all the tools

necessary to make it a success. Thank you for everything, Gary.

Sincere gratitude also goes out to Jim Kay, Zelda Rubinstein, Michael Lee Gogin, Michael

Marius Massett, Marcia, Professor Ann Metcalf, PhD, Professor Ken Burke, PhD, Hannah Hart, Emily

Leavitt, Daniella Matthews-Trigg, Courtney Nuding, Daniella Pineda, Anne Kaula Shapiro, Matthew

Shapiro, Bernard Shapiro, Jacqueline Kaula, Molly Bower, the Mills College Department of

Anthropology, the Mills College Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, the Mills College

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, and everyone who participated in and contributed to

this research.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures .................................................................................................................... ix


Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 1
Dwarfism: The Basics .............................................................................................................. 4
Dwarfs, "Midgets," and Little People ...................................................................................... 5
Effects of Media on Little People ............................................................................................ 8
Literature Review ................................................................................................................................. 9
Stereotypes in Media ................................................................................................................ 9
Typecasting .............................................................................................................................. 11
Roles for Little People ............................................................................................................. 12
The Views of Little People ...................................................................................................... 13
No Bigger Than A Minute ....................................................................................................... 14
The Impetus for This Research ................................................................................................ 15
Methodology ........................................................................................................................................ 16
Primary Questionnaire - First Version ..................................................................................... 16
Primary Questionnaire - Second Version ................................................................................. 18
Follow-Up Survey .................................................................................................................... 19
Survey Demographics .............................................................................................................. 20
Interviews ................................................................................................................................. 20
Analysis ................................................................................................................................................ 23
Survey Results .......................................................................................................................... 23
The Effect of Media on Perception .......................................................................................... 23
Positive/Negative Depictions ................................................................................................... 26
The Effect on Little People ...................................................................................................... 30
Visibility ................................................................................................................................... 34
The Role of Actors ................................................................................................................... 35
An Actor's Point of View: Michael Lee Gogin ........................................................................ 35
An Actor's Point of View: Marcia ............................................................................................ 37
An Actor's Point of View: Zelda Rubinstein ............................................................................ 38
An Actor's Point of View: Michael Marius Massett ................................................................ 39
From Past to Present ................................................................................................................. 40
Community Goals for the Future ............................................................................................. 44
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................... 47
Summary of Analysis ............................................................................................................... 47
Possible Flaws .......................................................................................................................... 49
Suggestions for Further Research ............................................................................................ 50
References Cited .................................................................................................................................. 52
Appendices ........................................................................................................................................... 55

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List of Tables and Figures

TABLES

Table 1.1 Demographic Features of the Surveyed Sample. ......................................................... 21


Table 2.1 How Titles, Grouped by Genre/Depiction, Rate on the Positive/Negative Scale. ....... 30

FIGURES

Figure 1. Harry and Daisy Earles in the 1932 film Freaks. ........................................................ iii
Figure 2. A movie poster for 1938's The Terror of Tiny Town. .................................................. iv
Figure 3. Michael Dunn as the amiable Glocken in 1965's Ship of Fools. ................................. 2
Figure 4. Billy Barty (center) at the first Midgets of America conference in 1957. ................... 7
Figure 5. Verne Troyer's character in the 2008 comedy The Love Guru works in a
miniaturized office. ...................................................................................................... 10
Figure 6. Verne Troyer as Mini-Me, the miniaturized clone of the villainous
Dr. Evil (Mike Myers), in the 1999 comedy Austin Powers: The Spy
Who Shagged Me. ........................................................................................................ 25
Figure 7. Peter Dinklage and Patricia Clarkson in the 2003 drama The Station Agent. .............. 27
Figure 8. The Munchkins from 1939's The Wizard of Oz. .......................................................... 29
Figure 9. Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) with his Oompa Loompa helpers in the 1971
children's classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. ........................................ 31
Figure 10. The reality television series "Little People, Big World" depicts the life of
the Roloff Family. ........................................................................................................ 33
Figure 11. Actor, musician and composer Michael Lee Gogin. .................................................... 36
Figure 12. Zelda Rubinstein as the medium Tangina in the 1982 supernatural thriller
Poltergeist. ................................................................................................................... 39
Figure 13. Comparison in Overall Ratings Between Film and Television Titles. ........................ 42

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Introduction

"There's prejudice everywhere. It does no good to give it back."

- Lowenthal, on being asked if he objects to being seated with the dwarf Glocken, Ship of Fools (1965).

In Stanley Kramer's Ship of Fools, a film made in the mid-1960s but set in the early 1930s, a

Jewish salesman (portrayed by Heinz Rühmann) and a short-statured world traveler (Michael Dunn,

who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance) (Fig. 3) are forced into an unlikely

alliance when both are rejected from being seated at the captain's table in the dining room of the luxury

ocean liner on which they are traveling. Though both are German citizens, they are excluded from the

table of "true Germans" due to their ethnic and physical differences. Upon their first encounter,

Lowenthal asks Glocken if he is a Jew, asserting that Jews are usually only seated alone or with other

Jews. Glocken insists that he is not Jewish, adding with a coy smile, "I've got my own minority group."

Both are optimistic and amiable characters, taking the indignities regularly visited upon each of

them as a result of their respective identities in stride. Even when bombarded on all sides by anti-

semitic Nazi rhetoric from the ship's other passengers, Lowenthal manages to maintain an indefatigably

positive attitude. "There are a million Jews in Germany!" he declares. "What are they going to do, kill

us all?" Meanwhile, when a couple of rambunctious children run by on deck and knock Glocken flat on

his back, he gets up as quickly as possible, eager to recover his dignity though unable fully to conceal

his embarrassment.

Significantly, both characters are presented positively in comparison with the film's other

figures, with Glocken acting as narrator and audience substitute while Lowenthal remains the voice of

humanity and hope in a world headed inexorably toward global conflict. The audience cannot help but

sympathize with both characters, who stand out as the most likeable personae in the whole ensemble,

despite -- or perhaps because of -- their rejection by the rest of the cast.

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Figure 3: Michael Dunn as the amiable Glocken in 1965's Ship of Fools.
Source: http://www.nctc.net/hazard/conrad/michaeldunn/biography/shipoffools.jpg.

Off the set, however, the actor Heinz Rühmann was not Jewish. A beloved and popular

character actor in Germany in the 1930s, Rühmann was offered acceptance into the Nazi film guild

Reichsfilmkammer, membership in which was obligatory for all those who wished to work in the

German film industry starting in 1933. The only condition? That he divorce his Jewish wife, Maria

Bernheim, in order to retain his German citizenship. Rühmann consented in 1938, helping Bernheim

escape to Sweden, where she survived the war in exile (Nathenson 2005:228). Rühmann went on to star

in over one hundred films over his seventy-year career. He would be voted Germany's most beloved

actor twelve times (New York Times 1994).

Michael Dunn could not so easily extricate himself from his on-screen persona. Born Gary Neil

Miller in Shattuck, Oklahoma, on October 30, 1934, Dunn suffered from a congenital bone growth

disorder known as spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, or SED. And he did, indeed, suffer. Besides causing

his short stature (he attained an adult height of 3' 10"), Dunn's SED also gave him crippling

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osteoarthritis, poor vision, chronic shortness of breath, and permanently dislocated hips (Thomas-Matej

2002). "I've always lived with constant pain," he once told Life magazine, "so that wasn't a factor in

whether I made a life for myself or not" (Lurie 1964). Despite his difficulties, Dunn did not consider

himself disabled. The same Life interview also quotes him as saying, "There are remarkably few things

I can't do in one way or another. I don't try to beat my limitations, just get around them so, in a way,

they don't ever exist." Michael Dunn may have lived his life in constant pain in a world not designed to

accommodate him, but he did not let this fact place restrictions on his goals, aspirations, or abilities.

Unfortunately, society did not view Michael Dunn in the same limitless way he saw himself. A

true actor with a strong dedication to his craft, Dunn did not take well to being typecast in the

unchallenging, one-dimensional roles that were typically the only option for performers of short stature

during his time. Thomas-Matej (2002) quotes a 1965 New York Post article as saying:

When Michael Dunn came here seven years ago to make his way in show
business, he found that agents considered him a "tough sale." The trouble
wasn't just that Dunn was a dwarf but that he was a stubborn dwarf who
didn't care to work in carnivals.

The same work, quoting his press kit biography, also insists that Dunn refused membership in the Little

Men's Protective Association, an advocacy organization for actors of short stature, "out of a

determination to confront the big men's world alone, on its own terms." As an actor, Michael Dunn was

resolute in his goal of being viewed as a performer of equal talent and abilities, in spite of his physical

divergence from the "average."

Despite his admirable refusal to demean his talent for money, Dunn unsurprisingly had a hard

time escaping the prejudices of both the film industry and of society at large. "It bugs me green," he

told Life, "when people assume I am less than human because I'm less than human-size" (Lurie 1964).

Late in his short life he grew bitter about his perceived inability to break the cycle of typecasting that

had plagued him throughout his career. Co-star and close friend Phoebe Dorin says, "He couldn't

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believe how other people saw him -- as a freak and a dwarf" (Thomas-Matej 2002). He turned to

prescription pills and heavy drinking to manage both his physical and emotional pain. On August 30,

1973, two months shy of his 39th birthday, Michael Dunn died in his sleep at a London hotel. His New

York Times obituary, which begins by stating his height within the first sentence, erroneously

categorizes his role in Ship of Fools -- perhaps the most non-typecast, multi-dimensional, and human

character Dunn ever played -- as that of "an evil, dwarfed hunchback" (1973).

Though in regards to intellect, ability and talent, Heinz Rühmann and Michael Dunn may have

been equals, in the eyes of the industry in which they made their living, they were clearly not. As a

white, heterosexual, average-statured male, Rühmann had the privilege as an actor to be able to put on

and take off a multitude of identities at will. Every character played by Dunn, however, was a dwarf,

just as he was in reality. This alone should not have limited his possibilities as a performer -- Little

People vary from one to the next just as much as all humans do. But the way in which Little People are

perceived by the average-statured world, and in particular the way they were and still are portrayed by

the film and television industries, severely restricted any chance a great talent like Michael Dunn may

have had to showcase his unique and remarkable abilities.

Dwarfism: The Basics

What is dwarfism, and who is a dwarf? Little People of America (LPA), a national advocacy

organization for people of short stature, defines dwarfism as "a medical or genetic condition that

usually results in an adult height of 4'10" or shorter, among both men and women, although in some

cases a person with a dwarfing condition may be slightly taller than that." LPA goes on to state that the

average adult height of a person with dwarfism is estimated to be 4'0", though typical heights can range

anywhere from 2'8" to 4'8" (2005). Dwarfism can be caused by any one of more than two hundred

different known conditions; the most commonly-diagnosed cause is achondroplasia, accounting for

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more than 70% of all cases of short stature. Achondroplasia occurs in one per 26,000 to 40,000 births,

and 85% of children with achondroplasia are born to average-statured parents (Nicholson 2008). The

second most common cause of dwarfism, spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia (SED, the source of Michael

Dunn's short stature) occurs in one per 95,000 births, and the third most common cause, diastrophic

dysplasia, is one per 110,000 births. Formerly, hormonal deficiencies originating in the pituitary gland

were another common cause of short stature; however, today advances in medicine allow for these

conditions to be treated in early childhood, usually resulting in average or near-average adult height.

Such treatments are not available for individuals with non-hormonal dwarfism. While there are surgical

procedures in existence which can lengthen the arms and legs of achondroplastic dwarfs, these

measures are considered highly controversial and are generally frowned upon by the short-statured

community (Little People of America 2005).

While this information briefly describes what dwarfism is, Nicholson 2008 also contains an

important summary of what dwarfism is not:

Dwarfism isn't:
-- an intellectual disability. A person who has dwarfism is typically of
normal intelligence.
-- a disease that requires a "cure." Most people with the condition can
live long, fulfilling lives.
-- a reason to assume someone is incapable. Little People go to school, go
to work, marry, and raise children, just like their average-size peers.

While this information is designed specifically to inform and comfort the average-statured parents of

recently-diagnosed children, it is nevertheless vital for all average-statured people to know and

remember.

Dwarfs, "Midgets," and Little People

There are a variety of terms currently in usage to refer to people with dwarfism. To the majority

of short-statured people, "Little Person" and "dwarf" are considered acceptable, whereas "midget" is

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regarded as deeply offensive. Where and when did these terms originate, and what are their associated

connotations?

According to Dan Kennedy, "'dwarf' is an ancient word dating back many centuries." Its usage

has been traced as far back as the year 700. It is considered to be the correct medical terminology for a

person with dwarfism. Meanwhile, "midget" only dates back to 1865 and is associated with the "freak

show" era, when Little People were exhibited for entertainment and profit. This explains the negative

connotations the word holds today: to associate a person with dwarfism with a curiosity or oddity on

display for public amusement is considered deeply offensive. Furthermore, the root of "midget" is

"midge," a type of small fly. Kennedy quotes short-statured artist Jacki Clipsham, who clarifies, "A

midge is a small insect that can be killed with impunity." Because of these deeply negative

associations, the word "midget" is generally not considered acceptable terminology when referring to a

Little Person. Though there are a few individuals who have reclaimed "midget," the vast majority of the

short-statured community still consider this word to be disrespectful at best.

The word "midget" also has another meaning when referring to Little People. In the freak show

where the term originated, a midget was typically an individual whose dwarfism resulted from a

hormonal condition, and who was considered to be in "perfect proportion" when compared to those of

average stature -- in other words, an exact miniature of an average-sized person. Meanwhile, a dwarf

was a person whose short stature resulted from a skeletal dysplasia, meaning that they were typically

considered "disproportionate" when compared to people of average stature. Because proportionate

Little People were considered more "desirable" as attractions, the word "midget" was actually

preferred; for a proportionate Little Person, being called a "dwarf" was considered offensive

(Kennedy). Because hormonal dwarfing conditions today are typically cured in early childhood,

proportionate Little People who would formerly have been called "midgets" are no longer very

common. Therefore, calling a Little Person a "midget" is not only deeply offensive; in most cases, it is

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also

Figure 4: Billy Barty (center) at the first Midgets of America conference in 1957.
Source: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1018/777621377_8467c622fb.jpg?v=0.

also simply semantically incorrect.

In 1957, short-statured actor, activist and pioneer Billy Barty called together the United States'

first conference for people with dwarfism, under the moniker Midgets of America (Fig. 4). However,

when it became evident that many of the attendees were dwarfs instead of midgets, "Barty's solution

was to change the name to Little People of America -- not because 'midget' was considered offensive,

but because Barty wanted a name that both proportionate and disproportionate members, midgets and

dwarfs, could accept" (Kennedy). Because LPA was the first advocacy organization of its kind in the

country, "Little Person" went on to become the preferred term for the newly-empowered dwarf

community.

Within this paper, "Little Person" (plural: "Little People") is used to describe a short-statured

individual with a condition resulting in dwarfism. It is used interchangeably with "short-statured" or

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"individual of short stature." The abbreviation "LP" is also commonly used in quotes by survey

respondents. "Dwarf" is rarely used. "Midget" is never used as a descriptive herein, for reasons which

should be obvious.

People without dwarfism are referred to herein as "average-statured" or as "individuals of

average stature." The word "normal" is never used. Leroi (2003:15) makes this important point:

Who are the mutations? To say that the sequence of a particular gene
shows a "mutation," or to call the person who bears such a gene a
"mutant," is to make an invidious distinction. It is to imply, at the least,
deviation from some ideal of perfection. Yet humans differ from each
other in very many ways, and those differences are, at least in part,
inherited. Who among us has the genome of genomes, the one by which
all other genomes will be judged? The short answer is that no one does.

By this logic, "mutations" are common to everyone, making variation the most natural of occurrences.

Therefore difference is the most "normal" characteristic of all; but this in itself is a contradiction.

Therefore "normal" is avoided at all costs, as this concept as it stands does not exist in reality. The

word "average" -- defined by Dictonary.com (2008) as "typical; common; ordinary" -- is therefore

considered preferable.

Effects of Media on Little People

The goal of this research is to describe how contemporary and historical images of Little People

in film and television have affected and still do affect the Little Person community. How do Little

People feel about the images they see of themselves depicted in mass media? How do these images

influence average-statured perceptions of Little People, and how do these perceptions affect intergroup

interactions? What action is the short-statured community taking in order to improve visibility for Little

People in film and television? In order to discover the answers to these questions, a survey was sent out

to members of the short-statured community, and several interviews with short-statured actors were

conducted. This research contains the results of this endeavor and an analysis of the findings.

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Literature Review

PITKA: You are a midget.


CHERKOV: I find that term condescending!
PITKA: Condescending? That's a big word for you!

- Exchange between Mike Myers and Verne Troyer, The Love Guru (2008) (Fig. 5).

There is very little scholarly literature to be found which describes the impact of social

stereotypes perpetuated by mass media on people of short stature. However, within the discourses of

ethnic and disability studies there is a wealth of academic writing on how images in film and television

influence popular attitudes toward minority groups. How might theories of visibility and societal

perception formed within these disciplines inform a study of Little People?

Stereotypes in Media

Studies (Nelson 1994, Safran 1998, Black & Pretes 2007) have shown that images in film and

television influence how individual members of minority groups, as well as those groups on the whole,

are perceived by non-minorities. Social worker Tari Susan Hartman explains, "People's values,

attitudes, and perceptions are based not only on their real-life experiences but on the perceptions

created and shaped by the media" (Nelson 1994:2). Furthermore, notes Nelson, "Sociologists tell us

that children learn most of their attitudes toward others through personal interaction or through

portrayals seen on television" (1994:2). However, Kennedy points out, "Many of us in the average-

size . . . majority might pass our entire lives without ever seeing a dwarf in person. Thus, our cultural

experience of dwarfism is mediated -- that is, it is shaped and formed by the media" (2003). Therefore,

because Little People are one of the most uncommon minorities of all, it so follows that media images

of them can also have a profound impact on adult consumers, if only because there is so little chance of

exposure to Little People in daily life to counteract the effect of unrealistic media images. These

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images

Figure 5: Verne Troyer's character in the 2008 comedy The Love Guru works in a miniaturized office.
Source: http://images.allmoviephoto.com/2008_The_Love_Guru/2008_the_love_guru_003.jpg.

images collectively have the power to create or reinforce cultural stereotypes, which Parrillo defines as

"oversimplified generalization[s] by which we attribute certain traits or characteristics to a group

without regard to individual differences" (2008:89). "Television influences attitudes toward racial or

ethnic groups by the status of the parts it assigns to their members [and] the kind of behavior they

display within these parts" (Parrillo 2008:94). Though this assessment pertains specifically to racial and

ethnic groups, logic dictates that the same can be said for virtually any minority group, including Little

People. By assigning Little People to particular roles or types of roles in film and television, and by

ascribing certain behaviors to these roles, the reality of Little People is distorted and a stereotype is

formed. Barbara T. Christian says of historically negative African American stereotypes perpetuated

through media: "The cumulative effect of these images produced over and over again, seen over and

over again, images that are notions of the home, merely amusing notions, become really destructive

stereotypes, notions of the mind" (Riggs 1986). Stereotypes in media are harmful to Little People as

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individuals and as a community in the same way that historical stereotypes were and continue to be

harmful to racial and ethnic minorities, and to all minorities in between.

Typecasting

Stereotypes in media are perpetuated by supply and demand. If consumers have come to expect

certain images, those are the images they will desire, and those are the roles and characters that will be

written. If the majority of characters that are being created are stereotypical depictions, this gives the

struggling minority actor very limited choices as to which roles to take. "Within these distorted molds

of Black behavior [stereotypes], Black entertainers necessarily had to fit, to win acceptance from

mainstream audiences" (Riggs 1986). Another word for this is typecasting. Richard Dyer defines "type"

as "any simple, vivid, memorable, easily-grasped and widely recognized characterization in which a

few traits are foregrounded and change or 'development' is kept to a minimum" (Wojcik 2003:226).

Typecasting is the act of hiring actors to fit these one-dimensional, stereotypical molds. For many

actors, says Wojcik, "typecasting represents commercial, mass-production instincts that are opposed to

artistry and disenfranchise the actor who wishes to perform more complex roles" (2003:223). However,

some typecast performers of the past learned to work within these constraints. "[Black] actresses such

as Hattie McDaniel, Louise Beavers, and Butterfly McQueen (who were forced to continually portray

servants on stage and screen) . . . understood the social structure that surrounded them and worked

within and against it" (Fulton 2004:83). In this way, so-called confining typecast and stereotypical

images can become sources of individual expression and self-definition. For minority actors who had

no choice but to take typecast roles, sometimes the only option was to make the best of an unfortunate

and unjust situation.

11
Roles for Little People

For actors of short stature, typecasting has existed since before film and television were even

invented. Of short-statured performers of the past, Adelson says, "Talent was not the first requisite --

size and appearance were generally sufficient to attract an audience" (2005:233). As court jesters and

art models, Little People have always been prized entertainers, though rarely for their humanity so

much as their physical stature. Of Little People in art, Fiedler notes, "Always their scale is defined by

contrast with normal children and adults, or with the animal pets who were their rivals, or simply with

the vast spaces they inhabit but do not fit" (1978:69). "Even today, despite an abundance of trained,

accomplished dwarf actors, producers are frequently content, when seeking a short-statured actor,

merely to find one who possesses a certain desired appearance" (Adelson 2005:233). Even if there have

been increasingly realistic depictions of Little People in film and television in recent years, Adelson

insists, "it is still unusual . . . to find dwarfs cast in roles that are not limited to people of their size or

that illuminate the inner experiences of a dwarf" (2005:235). Therefore typecasting for Little People

has a history going back centuries, and still represents the majority of short-statured images depicted

today. Of historical Black stereotypes which continue to inform and warp images of African Americans

in media, Leni Sloan says this, which applies remarkably well to the plight of Little People:

There is nothing wrong with singing and dancing, you know. There is
nothing wrong with tap dancing, there is nothing wrong with using your
voice and your body as a musical instrument. It is the laughter, and the
music, and the dancing at the exclusion of dramatic images, of realistic
images, which is at fault. And it's this exclusion which we hope to
dissolve (Riggs 1986).

Indeed, there is nothing wrong with Little People choosing to take roles which emphasize their physical

difference and derive humor from this depiction -- so long as they have a choice.

12
The Views of Little People

Though there has not been much written on the subject in academic venues, people of short

stature, both actors and non-actors alike, have attempted to make their voices heard regarding how the

images of Little People perpetuated in film and television affect them. Most are not happy with the long

history of typecasting that has restricted opportunities for short-statured performers. Actor Danny

Woodburn says, "There's something about the spectacle of Little People that brings out this last bastion

of acceptable bigotry. It seems like if there's a way to dehumanize people and get away with it, people

will leap at it" (Strauss 2007). Director Terry Zwigoff, who is not of short stature himself but has

worked with short-statured actors, concurs: "If [Hollywood] was as demeaning with any sex or race, it

would be considered a disaster. There are lots of talented people of short stature who don't get a chance

to show what they can do" (Strauss 2007). Hollywood's reply? According to television producer Clay

Newbill, "Writers, directors, producers, the network or the studio have read the script, visualized

characters and created a back story. Unless called for in the script, a short-statured actor is considered a

plot distraction" (Strauss 2007). Because casting Little People in non-traditional roles is seen as

"distracting," stereotypes live on, typecasting runs rampant, and Little People remain "the perfect

cultural group to bash" (Bradford 2003).

Though short-statured activists complain about the lack of positive roles for Little People,

others take what they view to be a more realistic and survivalist approach. Says short-statured actor

Michael J. Anderson, "Hollywood has the right to discriminate. They need to put somebody in there

who is tall and Black to play Magic Johnson. They need Little People to play elves, or they don't look

like elves" (Pidgeon 2004). In response to those who label typecast roles as "exploitative," performer

Danny Black says:

Exploitation is an act that victimizes someone, like the working class or


paying Blacks less for the same job. I can make $300 for two hours to
dress as an Oompa Loompa or I could flip burgers for $5.50. The simple

13
fact is there are a greater number of Little People on welfare rolls and
unemployed. Not everybody can be doctors, lawyers and teachers
(Alderman 2005).

Actor Tony Cox agrees, saying that, although he prefers to avoid roles which "make fun of Little

People" or use the word "midget," "for a lot of us, you do the work that's around or you don't eat"

(Strauss 2007). In some way, these actors are doing what Hattie McDaniel, Louise Beavers, and

Butterfly McQueen did in their day: making the best of a bad situation.

Have things gotten any better for Little People in recent years? Dan Kennedy sums up what

seems to be the general consensus on the issue within the short-statured community:

I think we've seen changes when you talk about the stereotypical roles
offered to people of short stature. There's been much more of an attempt
to make improvements and be respectful. At the same time, some of the
things out there like the Howard Stern show are as negative as anything
that's ever happened for Little People (Konecky 2003).

Gary Arnold of Little People of America concurs: "We're getting more positive exposure, and that's

going to help people of short stature getting treated as regular people. But the antiquated roles of short

people as punch lines linger" (Strauss 2007). While positive representations and realistic portrayals

illuminating the human side of Little People have surfaced in recent years, the overwhelming amount

of images seen today still play to old stereotypes. As Peter Dinklage so concisely puts it, "It's certainly

getting a lot better. But it's two steps forward, one step back. There's a lot of crap out there" (Strauss

2003).

No Bigger Than A Minute

In 2006, director Stephen Delano became the first Little Person to make a documentary about

dwarfism. In the final product, a one-hour episode of the PBS series "P.O.V." called "No Bigger Than

A Minute," "Delano explores the role of Little People in popular culture to find out what being a dwarf

really means, to himself and to others of short stature" (Levy 2006). Delano accomplishes this through

14
personal narrative and historical analyses, as well as through interviews with prominent short-statured

entertainers. This is so far the single work which comes the closest to comprehensively answering the

question, "How do Little People feel about the images of themselves portrayed in film and television?"

Describing his film, Delano says, "Together we are exerting our prerogative to answer a less angrily

posed version of the question, 'What do you think you're looking at?' Who better to provide the ironic

commentary on how the world looks at dwarfs than a dwarf himself?" (2006b). Furthermore, he voices

his hopes that, if his film could do anything, "it can give someone an inkling of who the human in that

abnormally small body is, and that would be a good thing because then that sort of acceptance can

apply to everyone else who's different" (2006b).

The Impetus for This Research

As previously stated, there is little to no academic writing in regards to images of Little People

in film and television and how they affect the short-statured. Furthermore, there are no known studies

of Little People that attempt to reveal an answer this question. There are a few media interviews with

individuals, but no scientific studies attempting to collect the opinions of a large sample of Little

People in regards to this subject. How can we truly know what Little People think and feel as a

community -- or whether there is any agreement within the community at all -- if we have never come

right out and asked them?

15
Methodology

How do people of short stature, as individuals and as a community, feel about the images of

Little People portrayed by the film and television industries in the past and in the present? What effect,

if any, do these images have on Little People? Do there exist "good" and "bad" depictions of Little

People, or is any visibility considered "good" visibility? How are "good" and "bad" images defined? If

there do exist inherently negative images, what happens when these "bad" roles are filled by

individuals from the short-statured community? These are questions which are not satisfactorily

answered by the research and literature currently in existence.

In conducting this research, an interactive electronic questionnaire was created to collect the

opinions of individual members of the short-statured community in order to compile a general census

of the sample's beliefs. A second follow-up survey of a similar format was then sent to a sample of the

original respondents. Finally, one-on-one interviews were conducted with several short-statured

individuals presently working in the acting profession.

Primary Questionnaire - First Version

The original survey was published on the Internet using commercial survey creation software.

This is considered a convenience sample. However, this limited the potential to reach participants, as

only respondents with Internet access could participate in the survey.

A print copy of the primary questionnaire is contained in appendix A; a breakdown of the

questions is as follows:

1. Ten statements, to which the respondent was asked to rate her or his reaction from Strongly

Agree to Strongly Disagree. Close-ended question using checkboxes.

2-3. Twenty film and television titles (split into two groups of ten), which the respondent was

16
asked to rate individually on a scale from Very Positive to Very Negative, based on the image of Little

People presented by the work. Titles were chosen based on popularity, but images had to meet certain

criteria. Specifically, animated works (like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) were excluded, as were

works where the Little People played "costume characters" whose faces were not visible (as in

Leprechaun). The list was reviewed and approved by two separate representatives of LPA (e-mails to

author, October 8, 2008). Close-ended question using checkboxes.

4. A prompt asking the respondent to describe a film or television broadcast depicting a positive

image of Little People. Open-ended question using an essay box.

5. A prompt asking the respondent to describe a film or television broadcast depicting a

negative image of Little People. Open-ended question using an essay box.

6. A series of questions designed to elicit demographic information, using both open-ended and

close-ended question formats.

E-mail addresses were collected with the demographic information for the purposes of potential

follow-up, but was specified as optional information. Confidentiality was guaranteed in writing to all

potential respondents on the first page of the survey. It was promised that e-mail addresses or any other

identifying characteristics would be omitted from the published results. By clicking the "Submit"

button at the end of the questionnaire, the respondents voluntarily consented to participation.

A direct URL link to the survey, along with a description of the project, was sent to 100 e-mail

addresses of national, regional and local Little People of America officers, as listed on the

organization's website. Permission to do this and approval of the questionnaire material was obtained

from LPA beforehand (e-mail to author, September 20, 2008). Six of these 100 e-mails "bounced," or

were undeliverable due to an incorrect address. Furthermore, since the e-mail addresses came from the

LPA website, some may have been out of date or abandoned, so even if the message was successfully

delivered, the intended recipient may never have seen it. The message was sent once and then sent a

17
second time to the same list of recipients (minus those addresses which bounced) approximately six

days later.

A description of the project including the survey link was also posted online to two Yahoo!

discussion forums focused on Little People. The first, known as The Dwarfism List, currently boasts a

membership of approximately three thousand users. The second, The Dwarf Acting Group, has

approximately five hundred members. Both were recommended to the researcher by a representative of

Little People of America (e-mail to author, September 20, 2008). Though the message containing the

survey was potentially viewed collectively by 3,500 people, it is impossible to know how many of the

groups' members actually saw or read the message. Furthermore, there may be overlap in the two

groups' memberships. The message was posted one time each to both groups, then posted a second time

to both groups approximately seven days later.

Although the survey was only publicized to the e-mail recipients and to the Yahoo! groups, no

action was taken to prevent respondents from outside these groups from filling out the questionnaire. It

is known that several people who received the questionnaire through e-mail forwarded the message,

including the survey link, to people outside of the original contact list. Furthermore, though The Dwarf

Acting Group does have monitored membership (which includes requiring aspiring members to explain

via essay box why they desire to gain access to the group), the larger group, The Dwarfism List, does

not, meaning anyone (whether they are members of the short-statured community or not) can join and

view messages. Though the questionnaire was given limited publicity, ostensibly anyone who stumbled

across its location on the Internet could have filled it out and submitted their answers.

Primary Questionnaire - Second Version

The first version of the primary questionnaire was completed by 70 respondents. In the

preliminary explanation of the project, sent to the e-mail recipients and posted to both discussion

18
groups, it was specified that the survey was intended to gather information only from those who

identified as short-statured themselves. However, in a preliminary review of the first 70 responses, it

became clear, based on comments made by the participants within the open-ended essay boxes, that not

all respondents identified as short-statured. Indeed, many voluntarily admitted to being of average

height. The confusion was blamed on the description of the survey as a tool designed to gather the

opinions of the Little Person community -- not strictly of Little People.

Because over half the members of Little People of America are not themselves short-statured

(e-mail to author, November 24, 2008), the definition of "community" was expanded for this research

to include anyone who chose to identify themselves as a member of this community. Using this new

definition, the data contributed by average-statured individuals could still be used, and the voices of

average-statured members of the Little Person community, who are often just as active and vocal in the

community as their short-statured counterparts, could be included in the study.

An additional question was therefore amended to the original survey. It was added to the

demographic section and queried whether the respondent identified as short-statured, as an average-

statured parent of a short-statured child, or as some other member of the short-statured community.

Follow-Up Survey

The follow-up survey was created in order to collect missing demographic data from among the

first 70 respondents, who filled out the first version of the primary survey and did not have a chance to

respond to the amended question concerning identity. It further asked the respondents to divulge their

experience with professional acting, if any, and to rate ten more film and television titles in the same

manner as the twenty titles from the original questionnaire. These ten additional titles were collected

and compiled from the open-ended essay box responses received on the primary questionnaire. A print

copy of the follow-up survey is included in appendix B.

19
Of the 70 respondents considered eligible for inclusion in the follow-up sample, 33 provided

contact information, and of these, 25 participated.

Survey Demographics

Table 1.1 contains an explanation of the demographic features of the surveyed sample. Group

over-representations are indicated in boldface.

According to the demographic data collected, the majority of participants identified as Little

Person or short-statured (74.0%), female (63.5%), aged 40-49 (39.6%), Caucasian/White (96.0%),

educated with an Associate's Degree or higher (63.5%). Furthermore, most were current members of

the Little People of America organization (63.5%).

Interviews

Four open-ended interviews were conducted with short-statured members of the acting

profession. Two were performed by telephone and two by e-mail. Respondents participating by e-mail

gave their consent in writing; telephone respondents gave verbal consent. Audio recordings of

telephone interviews were made for transcription purposes, to which both respondents consented

verbally. Confidentiality was explained and guaranteed to all participants. However, because these

respondents are engaged in a profession which gives them a pre-established public persona, it was

deemed reasonable to request that they allow their names to be used in the final report. In the end, three

of the respondents consented to allow their full names to be used, while one asked only to be identified

by her first name.

A letter of inquiry was sent through the mail to ten well-known short-statured actors, using fan

mail and professional addresses found on the Internet. Of these, only one responded, and agreed to be

interviewed by telephone.

20
Selected Demographic Characteristics
Total Overall Respondents: 112 Response Count¹ %
Identity
Little Person or short-statured 54 74.0%
Non-LP parent of a LP 13 17.8%
Other 6 8.2%
Total: 73
Gender
Female 66 63.5%
Male 38 36.5%
Total: 104
Age Group
18-29 12 11.9%
30-39 26 25.7%
40-49 40 39.6%
50+ 23 22.8%
Total: 101
Race/Ethnicity²
Caucasian/White 98 96.0%
African American/Black 1 1.0%
Hispanic/Latino 1 1.0%
Other 2 2.0%
Total: 102
Education
≤ Some college 38 36.5%
≥ Associate's Degree 66 63.5%
Total: 104
LPA Affiliation³
Current member 66 63.5%
Former member 14 13.5%
Never a member 24 23.1%
Total: 104
Table 1.1: Demographic Features of the Surveyed Sample.

1. Totals vary due to the fact that not all participants responded to all questions.
2. Nicholson (2008) states that achondroplasia, by far the most common cause of short stature, has an equal frequency of
occurrence among all races and ethnicities.
3. It is estimated by LPA that only 9-18% of people of short stature born in the United States are members of Little People
of America (e-mail to author, November 24, 2008).

21
The other three participants came from the sample surveyed in the electronic questionnaire. Six

respondents to the follow-up survey were contacted through e-mail inquiring if they would like to be

interviewed for the project. All six had indicated on the follow-up questionnaire that they were

currently professional actors. Of these, three responded to the request. Two selected to be interviewed

by e-mail, one by telephone.

Of the four interviewees, two were female and two were male. One was in the 18-29 age range,

two were over the age of 50, and one declined to state his age. Only one was a current LPA member;

two were former members and one had never been a member. All were Caucasian/White. Such a small

sample size clearly does not give a representative census of the entire short-statured acting community.

22
Analysis

Survey Results

Please refer to appendix C for a summary of the results of the primary questionnaire, and to

appendix D for the results of the follow-up survey. Appendix E contains brief descriptions for each

film and television title listed on the survey, with specific attention paid to the images of Little People

depicted therein.

There were not found to be enough significant differences in the opinions of differing

demographic groups to warrant a comparative analysis. Therefore herein the sample is referred to and

discussed on the whole.

The Effect of Media on Perception

This study operates under the presumption that images of Little People seen in mass media,

whether they be realistic or fictional characterizations, influence how short-statured people are

perceived by the wider average-statured world. Does this statement ring true for the short-statured

community? How does the sample believe mass media images influence perceptions of Little People?

The consensus among the members of the short-statured community who participated in this

study is that images of Little People portrayed in mass media decidedly do have an impact on how the

rest of the world views their community. Indeed, 94.6% believe that images in film and television

affect how average-statured people perceive Little People. Furthermore, 74.8% believe that the

attitudes of average-statured people toward individuals of short stature are primarily shaped by the

images they see in film and television. "A person who never interacts [with] or sees another LP other

than the ones on TV automatically links them to what they are familiar with," one respondent states.

This can be problematic if the images are not accurate or thoroughly representative. When describing

23
the Mike Myers oeuvre of dwarf-based comedy, another respondent laments, "Most people do not

interact with dwarfs, so [these] ridiculous caricatures are all they have to go by." Indeed, given the

rarity of encountering a person with a condition resulting in dwarfism in daily life, an average-statured

individual may go a lifetime without ever meeting a person of short stature. However, given the

frequency of images of Little People appearing in film and television, the sample agrees that, when an

average-statured person does encounter an individual of short stature, prejudices based upon mass

media images may exist.

The impact therefore lies in how these images are portrayed. Of those who participated in the

survey, 95.5% believe that some images of Little People in film and television have had a positive

influence on how the average-statured world views Little People, whereas 78.9% believe that some

images have had a negative impact. In what ways does the sample believe images in film and television

influence societal impressions of Little People?

Based on the views of the sample, one way perceptions are influenced is by a strong individual

depiction that is popular enough to affect a sizable portion of the population. Many respondents cited

the reality television series "Little People, Big World" and the Mini-Me character from the Austin

Powers film series (Fig. 6) as two examples of individual depictions which have affected how the

average-statured world views Little People. "I hear a lot of Mini-Me jokes since this film," one

respondent says of the impact of Austin Powers. Meanwhile, another writes, "'Little People, Big

World,' I believe, opens the eyes of non-LPs to how real LPs live and work on a daily basis." Some

images simply stand out from the rest, and therefore can single-handedly influence or alter how the

short-statured community is viewed.

Perceptions can also be created or altered by repeated depictions from various sources

conveying a similar image or idea, which collectively influence how society views Little People. Many

respondents noted when a singular depiction reinforced or perpetuated an existing cultural stereotype

24
about

Figure 6: Verne Troyer as Mini-Me, the miniaturized clone of the villainous Dr. Evil (Mike Myers), in
the 1999 comedy Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Source: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1920178432/ch0002430.

about Little People, suggesting that it was not the individual portrayal which made the impact, but

rather the number of portrayals depicting the same image which had an effect. For example, the parent

of a short-statured child complains that a particular episode of "The Jerry Springer Show" "reinforced

the image of LPs as being unintelligent and child-like." Another states that the recent Colin Farrell film

In Bruges, in depicting a short-statured character as having to hire a prostitute for companionship,

"reinforces cultural stereotypes that people of difference are not compatible on a romantic level." While

some images stand out enough to single-handedly alter perceptions, some do the work simply by

playing into ideas about Little People which already exist in society.

The sample therefore overwhelmingly agrees that images in film and television affect how the

average-statured world views them. Furthermore, the majority of participants also believe that the

attitudes of average-statured people toward individuals of short stature are primarily shaped by mass

25
media images. Because most average-statured people do not encounter Little People in their daily lives,

they will most likely have pre-conceived notions of Little People based on the images depicted in film

and television. Impressions of Little People on the average-statured world can be made either through a

solitary yet powerful depiction that achieves recognition and popularity, or through a collection of

images which create or reinforce a cultural stereotype. According to the sample, it is in this manner that

images in film and television impact how the average-statured world views Little People.

Positive/Negative Depictions

How, then, does the sample define a "positive" image of Little People as opposed to a

"negative" image? Of the twenty film and television titles given to be rated on the primary survey, 65%

(13) were rated positive, 25% (5) negative, and the remaining 10% (2) neutral. On the follow-up

questionnaire, where ten additional titles were provided, 70% (7) were rated positively and 30% (3)

negatively. What do these titles have in common to cause them to be rated positively or negatively?

Examining the titles by grouping them into genres reveals a pattern in the ratings. Generally, the

titles which received the most positive ratings on both surveys were those in the drama category. This

suggests that more serious or realistic depictions were viewed by the sample as more positively

influential on how Little People are perceived. "I think The Station Agent [Fig. 7] had the most realistic

portrayal of life [as] a Little Person," one respondent states. "Since I find realism positive, it's my most

positive." Another explains that all the titles she rated as positive on the survey were classified as such

because "the Little People are shown or portrayed as real-life characters or [as] having very 'positive'

personalities, or true-to-life stories." Two reality television series, "Little People, Big World" and "The

Amazing Race 5" were also rated very positively, whereas the remaining titles which arguably fit the

category of "reality" television (including "Jackass" and "Howard Stern") were solidly negative.

Therefore reality television presents itself as too vague and varied of a category to be classified as

26
positive or

Figure 7: Peter Dinklage and Patricia Clarkson in the 2003 drama The Station Agent.
Source: http://thecia.com.au/reviews/s/images/station-agent-1.jpg.

positive or negative on the whole. Nevertheless, dramatic portrayals and realistic depictions of Little

People living their daily lives as human beings were classified by the sample as having the most

positive effect on how the average-statured world views them.

The titles which received the most negative ratings were those which portray Little People as

intellectually inferior, as sight gags or as objects of ridicule, not as human beings. This classification

applies mostly to comedies but also to some "reality" television series as mentioned above. Of the

Austin Powers film series, one respondent explains, "The whole Mini-Me character gets the laughs, but

not because the LP is funny. It is because of the humiliating circumstances that the character portrays

which people react to, and that is what is degrading and negative." Of "The Jerry Springer Show,"

another participant writes:

I feel it doesn't help the [short-statured] community in any way. Bottom


line, these people do these shows for money. If the pay is right almost

27
anyone will take the job. It's not about pride or truth, it's about money
and fame! This world believes that the Springer show is a factual
documentation of life. It's not an acting opportunity . . . it's represented as
a documentary basically. I find that unfortunate. Very unfortunate.

Calling out a particular actor who tends to appear frequently in works of this type, another respondent

laments:

Unfortunately Verne Troyer has carved a niche for himself in portraying


his difference as a negative. From the Austin Powers series to Love Guru
to Bubble Boy, he has allowed himself to be carried like a baby, kicked
like a ball, and generally treated like an object rather than as a human
being. God bless the man for earning a living, but I really feel that this is
similar to an African American taking a "Sambo" role -- it's a paycheck,
sure, but you're setting back the cause immeasurably!

Clearly this is an indication that titles which depict Little People as less than human or as objects to be

used and abused are viewed as having a very negative impact on how the average-statured world views

the short-statured.

Between the two poles exist fantasy depictions and various kinds of comedy. In general,

comedies which portray Little People somewhat realistically -- that is to say, equal to average-statured

characters -- were the most positively rated of this genre. Of the portrayal of a short-statured man on

"Seinfeld," one respondent remarks:

I think this is one of more natural portrayals of dwarfism on television.


The show doesn't ignore Mickey's dwarfism, but doesn't go out of its way
to preach about issues surrounding dwarfism. Through Mickey's
portrayal as a regular guy, important issues around dwarfism (language,
limb lengthening) are raised in a subtle way.

Therefore comedy can foster positive representations of Little People, as long as it treats them as

"regular" people and does not make fun of them unjustly. The fantasy titles rated most positively were

those that present Little People not necessarily as human, but as "good" spirits rather than "evil," and as

intelligent beings rather than child-like. One participant classified The Wizard of Oz (Fig. 8) as positive

because the Little People "lived in a community built by them and took care of themselves." Another

28
praises because the

Figure 8: The Munchkins from 1939's The Wizard of Oz.


Source: http://strawberryfieldsforever.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/munchkins2.jpg.

praises Willow for the same reasons: "Little People were people, a community with all the same

strengths and flaws of any community of people." Therefore fantasy images may perpetuate positive

views of Little People and of the short-statured community without actually depicting reality.

Meanwhile, titles of the fantasy genre which depict Little People as being sources of fear or as

supernatural beings, or emphasize the difference between the short-statured characters and average-

statured characters negatively, were rated less positively. One respondent remarks, "Shows/movies that

portray LPs as 'different' from others (having special powers, being magical, being more odd than

everyone else) don't help put LPs on the same footing" as average-statured people. Another respondent

laments that the short-statured characters in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory "appeared to not

be able to take care of themselves or be self-sufficient," thereby perpetuating the cultural stereotype

that Little People are intellectually inferior to average-statured people. "The Little People had to work

in the factory," yet another participant explains, "because they were rejected by society." Therefore the

29
that

Break Down of Titles by Genre/Depiction that


Rating Most Positive Somewhat Somewhat Most Negative
Positive Negative
Genre or serious drama, realistic realistic scary fantasy, superficial comedy,
Type of comedy, perpetuating treating LPs as objects,
Depiction affirming negative talk/reality shows which
fantasy stereotypes ridicule LPs
Examples The Station Agent "Seinfeld" Willy Wonka Austin Powers
"Little People, Big World" Willow "Jerry Springer"
Wizard of Oz
Table 2.1: How Titles, Grouped by Genre/Depiction, Rate on the Positive/Negative Scale.

genres of comedy and fantasy are not considered to be inherently positive or negative in the same way

that drama seems to be inherently positive; it depends on the individual depictions within these two

broad categories.

Table 2.1 contains a simplified explanation of how these genres of film and television break

down in their ratings by the sample.

The Effect on Little People

It has already been established that the sample believes that film and television images have an

impact on how average-statured people view Little People, and that this impact can either be positive or

negative. How does this impact manifest itself? What tangible effect, if any, do these average-statured

perceptions resulting from film and television depictions have on Little People in their daily lives?

In outlining which images have had a positive or negative effect, many respondents included in

their descriptions the ways in which certain portrayals have affected how they themselves are or have

been treated by average-statured people. One respondent, in discussing the impact of Willy Wonka and

the Chocolate Factory (Fig. 9), relates: been

30
Figure 9: Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) with his Oompa Loompa helpers in the 1971 children's classic
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Source: http://www.prestigioushomesflatfeeservices.net/images/ompa%20lumpa%20menbbb.jpg.

I felt it gave a negative spin on Little People when I first saw [it] in grade
school. . . . Unfortunately my peers were giving me a hard time, while I
was struggling with [the] idea that I may look like that when I get older.
Everyone [was] staring at me and teasing me -- when I hardly understood
what was wrong with me? It gave the wrong message to any non-LP that
all dwarfs dress like that and live like that all the time. Including me!

A parent tells a similar story:

There was a series on FOX or another channel that had a Little Person as
a roommate. He was perpetually used as an object (bowling with him on
a skateboard) or being demeaned by the others. My daughter (an LP) was
in high school and was furious with the portrayal and the feedback at
school she had to deal with.

In both of these cases it is average-statured children whose perceptions are affected, and their short-

statured peers who suffer. However, there is no reason to believe that negative images only influence

and affect children. A third respondent explains the impact of comedian Ken Dodd's television series,

which aired in the United Kingdom in the 1960s:

31
He introduced a set of exaggerated characters based on small-statured
people. He called them "Diddy Men" and for the whole of the series and
for months and months after, small-statured people would be shouted to
"Diddy Man, Diddy Man" in the street! That man (Ken Dodd) did more
to ruin relationships between society and small people than anyone else I
have ever known.

These stories and others demonstrate how negative depictions of Little People have a direct effect on

how short-statured people are treated by the average-statured world in their daily lives.

However, it is worth remembering that while most (78.9%) believe that some images have had a

negative impact on how Little People are viewed, more (95.5%) believe that some images have had a

positive impact. It follows that there are more descriptions of images which have had a positive

influence on how Little People are treated by average-statured people than there are descriptions of the

reverse. Most of these pertain to the reality series "Little People, Big World" (Fig. 10) and other

documentary-style depictions which have humanized Little People in the eyes of the average-statured

world. "People come up to me smiling and want to talk instead of making fun of me," one respondent

relates. "I love what it's done in that respect. Kids get so excited to meet me because I'm a 'Little

Person.'" Another agrees, "I have had many more positive conversations with complete strangers

because of seeing Little People on TV. It even seems there is less staring by small children." This

demonstrates how positive depictions of Little People in film and television have helped short-statured

people to be accepted and respected by the average-statured world, which in turn influences the

interactions they have with average-statured people on a daily basis.

These images are seen not only as humanizing agents -- making Little People seem "just like

everyone else" -- but also as tools to educate the public on issues and language specific to the short-

statured community. "Since they began airing ["Little People, Big World"]," one participant says, "I

have noticed that strangers now refer to me as a Little Person, no longer a midget. This makes me very

happy." One average-statured parent relates his tale of how "Little People, Big World" helped

32
historically

Figure 10: The reality television series "Little People, Big World" depicts the life of the Roloff Family.
Source: http://blog.pennlive.com/go/2007/11/roloff.jpg.

his family come to terms with his daughter's short stature:

My parents had been fans of the show for a year or two before my
daughter's diagnosis, and when they found out, their reaction was, "Oh,
she's like Amy?" which immediately gave them an entire context. They
now knew that she could grow up, have a life, have a career, find love,
raise children both little and big, and anything else that the rest of the
world could do. My wife's side of the family didn't have that context, and
it took them much longer to understand what it meant that my daughter
had achondroplasia.

Yet another parent describes how this positive depiction has helped her short-statured daughter and has

educated the public about Little People:

It has made my LP daughter more comfortable with herself, by weekly


seeing others like her deal with their world. It has educated the general
public about LPs; we no longer need to answer a litany of questions and I
think people outside of the LP community are more at ease when they
have contact with us.

These stories demonstrate how positive and negative depictions do not only have a theoretical impact,

33
but a tangible effect on how the average-statured world views Little People and how short-statured

individuals are treated in their daily lives.

Visibility

While the results indicate that the majority of respondents believe that there are depictions in

film and television which have had a negative impact on how Little People are perceived, 80.9% of

participants also believe that it is good that there are images of Little People in mass media, regardless

of how these depictions influence the attitudes of the average-statured world. This seems to suggest that

the sample believes it is better to have negative depictions of Little People than none at all, indicating

that visibility in any form is viewed as an important step in achieving recognition and respect for the

short-statured community.

Some respondents go so far as to argue that every depiction of Little People is positive, simply

because they all raise visibility and propagate the employment of Little People in film and television.

"Every single movie/television program that was listed on the previous pages has influenced the

entertainment world in a way that is positive," one respondent states. "Not only [have they] opened the

door for more jobs, but helped the world know that we can take on comedy roles and drama roles."

Another argues, "Both LPs and average-sized [people] have done some pretty crazy things in front of

the camera, and in a lot of cases this has given them exposure to move on to a very successful career in

the industry." Still another points out that Billy Barty, founder of Little People of America, "took roles

of every type and did not have a problem with it. Now some LPs are so militant about being so PC

[politically correct] that they bitch about most of the LP roles." This clearly indicates that there is

conflict in the short-statured community about what kind of visibility is truly beneficial to Little

People. Nevertheless, the survey results indicate that the majority of respondents would rather have

negative visibility than none at all.

34
The Role of Actors

A slim majority of survey respondents, 55.1%, believe that it is the duty of short-statured actors

to only take roles which positively represent Little People. This not only suggests that not all roles are

viewed as equally-valid opportunities for visibility; it also puts the responsibility squarely in the lap of

performers, who, given the kinds of parts which are typically written for short-statured characters, may

not always have a wealth of "positive" roles from which to choose. Do performers of short stature

consider the effect on their community when they choose what roles to portray, or are these decisions

based primarily on personal interests and desires?

An Actor's Point of View: Michael Lee Gogin

Michael Lee Gogin (Fig. 11) is a musician, composer and actor who has appeared in over thirty

film and television productions. He got his start in acting after befriending Billy Barty at a Little People

of America convention in 1977. He prefers to audition for roles which are "non-traditionally cast,"

meaning not written specifically with a Little Person in mind, but based on talent and accuracy of

portrayal rather than height. He describes his portrayal of a magic healer on the television show

"Sliders" as an example of one of his roles which he feels has had a positive influence on how Little

People are perceived. While the role was originally written for an elderly man, "it was so believable

that older people were complaining that I stole their role. . . . I felt really proud, because it just meant

that I was able to portray a non-traditionally cast role." This is positive, he believes, because it shows

that Little People do not have to be relegated to roles specifically written for someone of their height.

By taking non-traditional roles, short-statured actors also help to ensure that the average-statured world

views them as "regular" human beings who exist in all walks of life, not just in the stereotypical roles

usually reserved for them.

However, selecting roles can be a wait-and-see experience, as some roles which appear to

35
positively

Figure 11: Actor, musician and composer Michael Lee Gogin.


Source: http://www.michaelleegogin.com/images/formal%20micheal1.jpg.

positively portray Little People on paper may in actuality turn into sight gags or stereotyped portrayals.

"If it happens to be condescending or patronizing to my community, I rescind almost immediately,"

Gogin insists. He cites the example of the Leprechaun horror film franchise, which he considers to be

"negative in tone" and harmful to the image of Little People. "I've turned down one of the Leprechaun

movies 'cause I didn't ever want to be portrayed that way," he says. Therefore it is clear that Gogin

makes conscious decisions in his career based on what effect the portrayal will have, both on himself

and on his community.

As for roles traditionally written for Little People, Gogin believes there can be positive imagery

which benefits the community and is therefore acceptable for him to take on as a role. "Anything that

had to do with certain seasons of the year, like Christmas," he says. "I've done some elfish stuff.

They've always been a positive thing, but always in a fantasy way to uplift the season." He does not

have a problem with traditional short-statured roles; the problem lies when these are the only roles

36
available:

I'm not saying that those are bad roles. I'm saying that, hey, those are
traditionally okay. . . . But I would not make my career of continuing to
play the same role. I've turned down elfish roles and I've turned down
leprechaun roles. Those are the type of roles that I think should remain
because it gives people an opportunity to escape. But if they've become
too negative or too weird, no.

Therefore Gogin is conscious when he takes on a traditionally short-statured role of what the effect

may be. He agrees with the majority of the survey sample that fantasy roles are not inherently harmful

to the image of Little People; it is specific depictions, and the lack of variety of roles for Little People,

which can prove problematic.

An Actor's Point of View: Marcia

Marcia is an actress with a college degree in theater who has been working in her profession for

thirty years. Her primary career is currently on the stage, but she has also appeared in film and

television and still auditions occasionally. However, she laments, "I won't do costume work or

demeaning work, and that limits my TV/film work." She is proud of the fact that she has never taken a

traditionally-cast role in her primary career. "On stage, I have never done a role specifically for a Little

Person. I always compete with everyone else on my talent." When it comes to her work in film and

television, "I want the character to be a real person, not a sight gag or costume character." As she says,

this limits her film and television opportunities. "Since we are real people in a real world," she says, "it

would be great to see us cast as a teacher, a secretary, a neighbor, etc. Waiting for roles that call for

LPs is tiresome." Marcia is another performer who believes that she is upholding the dignity of herself

and her community by being strict about what kinds of roles she will and will not perform. However,

because of the lack of variety in roles which are written for Little People, this steadfast approach limits

her career opportunities. Instead, she expresses her creative gift in the theater, which in her experience

37
has been more open to casting Little People in non-traditional roles.

An Actor's Point of View: Zelda Rubinstein

Zelda Rubinstein (Fig. 12) is an actress who has appeared in over fifty film and television

productions since her career began in 1980. She is the most well-known of the interviewees, in

particular for her portrayals in Poltergeist (1982) and Teen Witch (1989). She announced her retirement

from acting in 2008 and, by her account, immediately was offered six feature films to do until the end

of 2010. Like Michael Lee Gogin and Marcia, Rubinstein has strict rules about what she will and will

not portray on screen. "I would never do a costume character," she insists. "I've turned down being a

badger, being a mayonnaise jar, I mean... some of them are really really funny. And this is after I'd had

quite a bit of success." She believes she has done the community of Little People justice in her

portrayals. "I'm not bringing up the fact I'm little," she states. "The way I feel is, you don't have to

honor my womanhood, but you damn well have to acknowledge it," she says, indicating that she will

not tolerate being treated as anything less than a competent adult actress of equal talent on the set and

in her portrayals.

Rubinstein does not feel that her short stature has limited her chance for acting roles; she insists

she does not "feel separated from anybody." "I've always been mainstream," she explains. "I don't think

there's a year that I ever felt like I wasn't mainstream, that I wasn't competitive. And I never felt I was

denied anything." She also insists:

I've never thought of myself exclusively as a Little Person. And when I


encounter people who think of me exclusively as a Little Person, I give
them very short shrift. They don't have a chance to catch their breath. I
don't say anything negative, I just don't say. And I remove myself from
the situation.

Rubinstein therefore does not feel that she is any different from any average-statured actress; however,

when she encounters those who do view her differently, she makes sure to "remove [herself] from the

38
situation

Figure 12: Zelda Rubinstein as the medium Tangina in the 1982 supernatural thriller Poltergeist.
Source: http://media.movieweb.com/news/09.2007/zelda.jpg.

situation." In this direct and no-nonsense way, Rubinstein is able to maintain her image of herself as

well as indicate to others the equal and respectful treatment she expects.

An Actor's Point of View: Michael Marius Massett

Michael Marius Massett is a musician who began acting three years ago for the purposes of

earning some extra money. His résumé currently lists over twenty film, television and web media

credits, including commercials. He has never taken an acting class. "I think typecast and unique roles

are on my level as an actor," he admits. "Maybe someday Shakespeare, but not today." He gets most

excited about "strange" roles, and rejects roles that do not offer adequate pay. When asked if he has

ever been challenged by another Little Person for taking a particular role, he responds, "Not yet."

While he admits the possibility of other Little People objecting to his career choices, he also believes

that visibility for Little People is important for the livelihood of short-statured actors:

39
I think that ignorance will never die no matter what, so I may not take the
role where I get tossed but for the person that does, they have my
support. I think any time an LP is on TV gives the chance for more LPs
to get work.

While Massett admits that "ignorance" about Little People does exist, and mentions a specific kind of

role which he would potentially reject, he also agrees with the survey respondents who insist that any

kind of visibility is better than no visibility at all.

Therefore all four interview subjects are aware of the effect their career choices have on their

community. However, they all interpret this responsibility differently and have different standards of

what they will and will not portray. Rubinstein and Marcia refuse to perform costume characters,

whereas Gogin thinks fantasy roles are acceptable as long as they are "uplifting" for the audience.

Massett makes his choices based more on his individual interests, but believes that he is helping his

community by contributing to the visibility of Little People. Therefore all four actors are consciously

aware of both themselves and their community when they make their acting choices, but as to what

portrayals are considered "positive" and "negative," this varies depending upon individual

interpretation. There is no single standard definition of "positive" and "negative" amongst the four.

From Past to Present

Currently, 63% of survey respondents believe that Little People are better represented on

television than they are in film, whereas only 20% believe that film contains more positive

representations. Figure 13 outlines how film titles compare to television titles when the ratings from

both the primary and follow-up surveys combined are examined. While the results of the comparison

agree with the figures presented when the sample is asked directly to compare film and television --

that is to say, the comparison shows that television titles are indeed ranked more positively than film

titles -- the difference is not as extreme. This can be attributed to the fact that the direct questions

40
comparing film and television specifically asked the respondents to make their decisions based on their

views of current representations on the whole, while the film and television titles to be rated represent

individual works of both past and present.

While the fact that some older titles were rated more positively than some recent depictions

could indicate that current images are viewed less positively than those in the past, it is worth

remembering that the titles the respondents were asked to rate are not necessarily representative of

depictions on the whole. In other words, just because these specific images from the past were rated

positively does not mean that depictions in general in the past are seen as more positive. Indeed, 82.4%

of respondents believe that images of Little People in film and television are better now than they were

or have been in the past,. In what ways have depictions improved, and what has been the cause?

Michael Lee Gogin agrees that current images are better than those in the past. "There's a lot of

hidden beauty in our community that is just beginning to come out," he insists. "And forthrightly so, in

a way that, no, we don't want to be portrayed as the monster . . . We want to be portrayed in real roles

and not so fantasy, like a leprechaun or an elf." In particular he mentions that images have become

more realistic in portraying Little People as sexual beings. "People with disabilities or people with

short stature are always looked at like, oh, you couldn't possibly have a romantic partner in any

project." However, he is pleased that roles which have been coming out recently are "not so much

asexual." He believes much of this progress can be attributed to actors such as himself who stay true to

their standards of roles they will and will not take. "What makes an impact," he says, "is that people

like myself will find a role that's true to the essence of what's really going on. It could be fantasy or it

could be a reality thing. And then stick by it and say this is the role I want to portray, and they just go

for it." Therefore Gogin believes that progress has been made in improving images of Little People by

the actions of performers who stand their ground and refuse to participate in projects that they feel do

not do their community justice. their

41
Figure 13: Comparison in Overall Ratings Between Film and Television Titles.
Total of 16 films and 14 television series rated.

42
Zelda Rubinstein also agrees that images of Little People have improved. "The message is going

out," she says, "that there's no sense in diminishing yourself." Like Gogin, she believes it is actors who

have made the difference by remaining steadfast in their standards. By refusing to take roles which

exploit her physical stature, Rubinstein believes, "in some small measure, I have been responsible for

elevating the status of the Little Person from an oddity to a worthy human actor." She believes that her

fame has inspired other short-statured actors to be more firm in staying true to what they will and will

not portray:

I think [images of Little People] are better now and I think a lot of that is
because of me. I wouldn't say it's exclusively because of me. I'd say
partially, because it's like a ripple effect. You know, you have one good
egg and a lot of people get the idea that it's worth copying. It's worth
saying no to this, to the shit roles.

Therefore both Gogin and Rubinstein are united in their belief that it is because of actors like

themselves that images have improved. Not only do they influence the perceptions of the average-

statured world by not letting themselves be portrayed negatively; their actions and successes also

inspire other short-statured actors to be firm in upholding their own standards.

Marcia, however, does not agree that images of Little People are better now than they were in

the past. "[There is] very little improvement that I can see," she states. She bases her assessment on the

continuing proliferation of the word "midget" and its uncensored use in film and television. "We won't

see a change," she believes, "until the LP community unites and says 'no more' to the 'M' word, being

made fun of and being abused." Therefore Marcia does agree that it is the duty of short-statured actors

and activists to make the changes they want to see in media and in society; she simply does not feel that

enough progress has been made yet to declare the present attitudes about Little People to be an

improvement from the past.

The responses from the interview subjects indicate that they agree with the majority of

questionnaire respondents who believe that it is the duty of short-statured performers to improve

43
images of Little People in film and television. The interview subjects who responded to this question

all believe that they have upheld the dignity of their community in their acting choices, and Gogin and

Rubinstein believe that this approach has contributed to the improvement of images of Little People in

film and television.

Community Goals for the Future

The majority of survey respondents believe that images of Little People are better now than they

were or have been in the past. Furthermore, 70.9% believe that images will continue to improve in the

future. What does the short-statured community believe it needs to do in order to make this goal of

positive visibility a reality?

Again, Michael Lee Gogin believes the responsibility lies with the actors. He believes that there

currently exists a disconnect between some actors' visions of their own prerogatives and the

prerogatives of their community:

Most people have an agenda, and some of them will say, "Okay, I'm a
member of that group." But the real essence is that a lot of people will
not even go that far; they'll just say, "I'm minding my own business, I'm
doing what I want to do." So hopefully some day it'll match up to where
everyone will say, "I've had enough of this, I'm going to follow what I
should have been doing all along with my heart," instead of what kind of
money someone's going to be making just to make ends meet.

He does recognize that struggling actors do not always have the financial security necessary in order to

make the decision to turn down a job. "When someone needs a certain amount of money," he states,

"not just to put food on the table but just to qualify for their insurance, that's going to be the hard knock

right there." However, he also admits that there have been times in his career when he has suffered

financial hardship; still, he remained steadfast in his refusal to "portray an image that was beneath

[him] as a person." "I know in my heart I have always stood very strongly on what I would not do, and

I've stuck by it," he says. "I think it's going to take that type of guts to just say no [to demeaning roles].

44
It's almost like that drug slogan: Just Say No!" He offers this advice to short-statured actors who wish

to use their career to improve the status of Little People in society:

You know, most actors are going to go out for roles because they only
have an agent. So I think that the short-statured actor has to be more
forthright in telling their agent that they want to do non-traditional cast
roles. They need to forthrightly say, "Well, if there's a role for a doctor,
just put me up." And then the agent will say, "Well, it doesn't call for
your height. It only calls for a doctor." And then you look boldly at the
agent and you say, "That's right. They asked for a doctor." I've never met
a doctor that had to be six foot in height. In fact, I know a half a dozen or
more that are four feet or less in height. And that's what that Little Person
needs to tell their agent. That it is possible to portray any role they want
to portray, if they know they can be realistic in that role. If they get hired,
great! Then it's another feather in our cap as a group. If they say no, then
that casting person is going to admire that Little Person for being bold
enough to say, "I'm auditioning for the role, and not the height of the
role." And I think that's a positive measure to take, and to be forthright
about. They should make it their mission. And that makes a difference.
People feel that passion. Really, producers will feel that passion, and they
will do something about it.

Gogin believes it is worth the risk to an actor's career and financial stability to refuse to take a role she

or he does not agree with morally. Doing so will not only gain the actor respect, it will increase the

world's respect for the entire community of Little People.

The other interview subjects all expressed similar sentiments. "We must stop taking the stupid

roles that make us all look like second-class human beings -- or not human beings at all," Marcia

insists. "We may be small, but we can 'stand up' for ourselves." Michael Marius Massett advises short-

statured performers to "keep doing it. We need more LP writers, if there really are a lot of LPs getting

offended." Zelda Rubinstein had this advice for short-statured actors:

Say no to the roles that aren't worth even thinking about. I realize Little
People have to raise their families, but at some point you have to be
brave and say, "No, I'm not a mayonnaise jar. No, I'm not going to be the
brunt of cruel jokes." You just have to say no, you have to acknowledge
the humanity of the Little Person. That they're just concentrated.

This is the advice that these actors, who uphold both their personal dignity and the dignity of their

45
community in the career choices they make, offer to other Little People who are also looking to

improve not only their own opportunities, but the opportunities of the entire short-statured community.

46
Conclusion

Short people are just the same


As you and I
(A fool such as I)

All men are brothers


Until the day they die
(It's a wonderful world)

- Randy Newman, "Short People," released 1977.

Summary of Analysis

The sample agrees that images in film and television affect how the average-statured world

views them. The majority of participants also believe that the attitudes of average-statured people

toward Little People are primarily shaped by mass media images. Average-statured people may form

prejudices and pre-conceived notions of Little People based on depictions they see in film and

television; because it is rare for most average-statured people to encounter Little People in their daily

lives, it is hard to counteract the effects of these images. Average-statured perceptions of Little People

can be altered either through a single yet popular depiction, or through a series of images from various

sources which create or perpetuate a stereotype about Little People. It is in this manner that film and

television depictions of Little People impact how the average-statured world views them.

Depictions vary in their portrayals of Little People and the effect they have on average-statured

perceptions. Among the sample, serious and realistic depictions of Little People were rated most

positively. Titles which depict Little People as less than human and rely on their height difference for

superficial visual humor were rated most negatively. In between were fantasy and comedy images.

Fantasy roles which are considered "affirming" and do not depict Little People as agents of ill will or

supernatural beings were rated more positively than fantasy depictions intended to frighten the

audience or those which reinforce cultural stereotypes about Little People. Furthermore, comedy was

47
deemed positive if it portrayed Little People as equal to average-statured characters and did not rely

solely on their visual difference for humor. In most cases it is not possible to label entire genres as

positive or negative in their depictions of Little People, as there is enough variation between works of

the same genre to result in both kinds of depictions being possible within a single genre.

Average-statured perceptions of Little People based on images seen in film and television not

only theoretically affect attitudes toward Little People, but also have a tangible effect on how Little

People are treated by individuals within average-statured society. Some respondents described negative

encounters with schoolmates or strangers on the street due to the influence of particular depictions on

attitudes toward Little People. Even more respondents described improvements in how they are treated

on a daily basis by the average-statured world based on "positive" images of Little People seen in film

and television. This included more respect afforded to Little People and better understanding of short-

statured issues such as appropriate terminology. Furthermore, average-statured people were described

as more willing to engage in positive interactions with Little People due to the influence of particular

depictions in film and television, rather than gawking or laughing at them, or asking them personal

questions about their dwarfism. These stories from participants demonstrate how images in film and

television can have a tangible effect on how Little People are treated in their daily lives.

Although the sample believes that images vary in whether they help or hinder the short-statured

community, they also believe that it is better to have negative images of Little People in film and

television than no images at all. This indicates that any visibility is viewed as preferable to no visibility

whatsoever. Some respondents believe that all images of Little People have a positive influence, in that

they make the average-statured world aware of Little People's existence and provide employment to

more Little People. This indicates a conflict within the short-statured community as to exactly what

kind of visibility is considered beneficial to the community.

The majority of survey respondents believe it is the duty of actors to only take roles that

48
positively represent Little People. The four interview subjects, all actors, agree with this sentiment, but

they all define a "positive representation" somewhat differently. However, all four do consider both

personal and communal interests when selecting their roles, and all four believe that they have

benefited their community in their career choices.

The sample believes that images of Little People are better now than they were or have been in

the past, and two of the interview respondents agree. These two believe that it is short-statured actors

who have been responsible for improving the image of Little People, because of the professional

choices they have made and the moral stands they have taken.

Both the sample and the interview respondents believe that images of Little People in film and

television will continue to improve in the future. The interview respondents all offered their advice to

actors who are looking to improve the standing of their community in their acting choices. It was

deemed imperative to reject roles which demean or insult Little People, and to push for more roles

which humanize and normalize short-statured citizens. In this way, the interviewees believe, Little

People will gain more respect both in the entertainment industry and in everyday life.

Possible Flaws

As outlined in the methodology, the survey sample was not equally representative of the entire

short-statured community. In particular, the vast majority of respondents were members of Little

People of America, and therefore may have different or more politically-aware viewpoints than non-

members. Also, virtually all of the respondents identified as White/Caucasian; Little People of color

may have vastly different interpretations of and opinions on images of short-statured people in film and

television. Furthermore, as stated, only four actors were interviewed; clearly a sample so small in

number cannot possibly be considered representative of the entire short-statured acting community.

The selection of film and television titles listed to be rated on the survey may also have been biased or

49
not representative enough of the total of images of Little People in mass media to gauge an accurate

reading of how the community views depictions on the whole. Animated images and depictions where

Little People are dressed in costume without their faces visible were excluded from the list; however it

is likely that images such as these do play a role in shaping average-statured perceptions of Little

People. These are just a few of the possible flaws which may or may not have influenced the results

and analysis of this research.

Suggestions for Further Research

In general, I believe that any further research into this topic would benefit this community. This

entire project was about the perceptions of average-statured people; however, no average-statured

people from outside the short-statured community were consulted. Therefore it would be interesting to

get the other side of the story, to hear from average-statured people how their perceptions of Little

People have been or are altered by images depicted in film and television. Not only would this reveal

more pieces of the puzzle, but it could also be used to aid in fostering better communication and

understanding between the average-statured and short-statured communities.

Another topic of interest but beyond the scope of this project is how images in film and

television affect children and teenagers within the short-statured community, both little and average-

sized alike. How do images in mass media affect the self-image and self-esteem of children of short

stature? Of average-statured children with parents of short stature? Do parents of short stature make

any attempt to regulate what media images their children do or do not see? Are these rules different for

short-statured and average-statured children? These are all fascinating questions which deserve to be

explored.

There was some discussion during the interview process about whether or not short stature

should be considered a disability. This is a subject of great debate within the short-statured community.

50
More research into this topic may illuminate the arguments for and against labeling short stature a

disability, and may further enhance the understanding of the effect of images on average-statured

perceptions. Perhaps the fact that short stature is not generally considered to be a disability makes it

more acceptable to ridicule or otherwise laugh at Little People in film and television, while it is not

considered acceptable to do so with other disabled actors. On the other hand, maybe it is because short

stature is not considered a disability that there are so many depictions of Little People in mass media.

Certainly as a group they have greater visibility and more employed actors than people with other

disabilities. This is yet another topic just waiting to be explored.

Finally, in screening the film and television depictions germane to this research, I noticed that

the short stature of the vast majority of Little People depicted could be attributed to either

achondroplasia or spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia (SED). Just because achondroplasia and SED are the

most common types of dwarfism today does not mean that they are the only types. This made me

wonder whether there is any conflict within the short-statured community over the visibility of

achondroplastic dwarfs at the expense of the visibility of other types of dwarfism. Certainly the "face"

of the short-statured community seems to be achondroplastic. This also pertains to the argument over

whether or not to label short stature a disability, as individuals with achondroplasia in general have

greater mobility than individuals with certain other types of dwarfism. I am unsure as to what further

research into this particular area might find; I am just curious to know if there is anything to find. As

far as I know this subject has yet to be explored at any length.

There is so much more that can and should be explored within the short-statured community.

These are but a few of the multitude of questions that my enlightening yet brief glimpse into this

colorful and multifaceted community have inspired in me.

51
References Cited

Adelson, Betty M.
2005 The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity toward Social Liberation.
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Alderman, Jesse Harlan


2005 Hiring real-life Munchkins for your next party. Columbia News Service. Electronic
document, http://jscms.jrn.columbia.edu/cns/2005-02-15/alderman-dwarfrental, accessed
December 9, 2008.

Bradford, Bill
2003 'Comedian' crosses the line. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Electronic document,
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/106740_firstperson03.shtml, accessed December
9, 2008.

Black, Rhonda S., and Lori Pretes


2007 Victims and Victors: Representation of Physical Disability on the Silver Screen.
Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities 32(1):66-83.

Delano, Stephen
2006a No Bigger Than a Minute. P.O.V. PBS, October 3.

2006b Dear Viewer. PBS: P.O.V. Electronic document,


http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2006/nobiggerthanaminute/behind_letter.html, accessed
December 9, 2008.

Dictionary.com
2008 average. Electronic document, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/average, accessed
December 7, 2008.

Fiedler, Leslie A.
1978 Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Fulton, DoVeanna S.
2004 Comic Views and Metaphysical Dilemmas: Shattering Cultural Images through Self-
Definition and Representation by Black Comediennes. Journal of American Folklore
463(117):81-96.

Kennedy, Dan
2003 Little Chance. Boston Phoenix. Electronic document,
http://tinyurl.com/5owx3f, accessed December 9, 2008.

2005 The Etymology of Dwarfism. Electronic document,


http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2005/bigenough/special_dwarfism_ety.html,
accessed December 7, 2008.

52
Konecky, Chad
2003 Twinkle, twinkle, little star. Electronic document,
http://www.shortsupport.org/News/0377.html, accessed December 9, 2008.

Kramer, Stanley
1965 Ship of Fools. 149 min. Stanley Kramer Productions, Hollywood.

Leroi, Armand Marie


2003 Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body. New York: Penguin Books.

Levy, Marissa
2006 Little people reframe the story of their lives. USA Today. Electronic document,
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-10-02-dwarfism_x.htm, accessed December
9, 2008.

Little People of America


2005 Frequently Asked Questions. Electronic document,
http://www.lpaonline.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=44397&orgId=lpa, accessed
December 7.

Lurie, Diana
1964 A dwarf's full-size success. Electronic document,
http://www.nctc.net/hazard/conrad/michaeldunn/dorin/photo, accessed November 22.

Nathenson, Cary
2005 Film Industry, Nazi Purge of Jewish Influence in. In Antisemitism: A Historical
Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution. Richard S. Levy, ed. Pp. 228. Santa Barbara,
CA: ABC-CLIO.

Nelson, Jack A.
1994 The Disabled, the Media, and the Information Age. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

New York Times


1973 Michael Dunn, 39, The Actor, Is Dead. August 31, 1973: 28.

1994 Heinz Ruehmann, German Actor, 92. Electronic document,


http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?
res=9405E4DF133DF935A35753C1A962958260, accessed October 29.

Nicholson, Linda, MS, MC


2008 Dwarfism. Electronic document,
http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/growth/dwarfism.html, accessed November 24.

Parrillo, Vincent N.
2008 Understanding Race and Ethnic Relations. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

53
Pidgeon, Eugene
2004 Little People's Progress. Los Angeles CityBeat. Electronic document,
http://www.lacitybeat.com/cms/story/detail/?id=1187&IssueNum=65, accessed
December 9, 2008.

Riggs, Marlon
1986 Ethnic Notions. 57 min. California Newsreel, San Francisco.

Safran, Stephen P.
1998 Disability Portrayal in Film: Reflecting the Past, Directing the Future. Exceptional
Children 64(2):227-238.

Strauss, Gary
2007 Short actors gain stature. USA Today. Electronic document,
http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2007-02-26-short-actors_x.htm, accessed
December 9, 2008.

Thomas-Matej, Elisabeth
2002 What's in a Diagnosis? A Medical Biography of Michael Dunn. Electronic document,
http://www.nctc.net/hazard/conrad/michaeldunn/biography, accessed November 22.

Wojcik, Pamela Robertson


2003 Typecasting. Criticism 45(2):223-249.

54
Appendices

Appendix A: Primary Questionnaire …................................................................................................ 56


Appendix B: Follow-Up Questionnaire …........................................................................................... 61
Appendix C …...................................................................................................................................... 62
Table 1: Distribution of Answers on Agree/Disagree Statements (Primary Questionnaire) ... 62
Table 2: Distribution of Ratings on Film/Television Titles, List 1 (Primary Questionnaire) .. 63
Table 3: Distribution of Ratings on Film/Television Titles, List 2 (Primary Questionnaire) .. 64
Appendix D: Distribution of Ratings on Film/Television Titles (Follow-Up Questionnaire) …......... 65
Appendix E: Film and Television Descriptions …............................................................................... 66

55
Appendix A
Primary Questionnaire

Images of Little People in Film and Television

1. Welcome to the Survey!

This is page 1 of 6.

Greetings! This research is being conducted in order to document opinions of the Little Person
community on images of Little People in film and television. The specific task you will perform
requires you to answer several questions about your beliefs and opinions on the topic of Little People in
film and television. This data will be used in an undergraduate senior thesis project in the
Anthropology/Sociology department of Mills College.

You may skip any questions or sections of the survey that you wish. Any information that you give will
be used for research purposes ONLY and will be kept confidential. You must be over the age of 18 to
participate in this survey.

If you have any questions or concerns, either before or after you complete the survey, please feel free to
contact me directly at cshapiro@mills.edu.

Specific directions are included at the top of every page. The layout of the survey is as follows:
-Page 1 is this page, the introduction.
-Page 2 will ask you to Agree or Disagree with several statements about Little People in film and
television.
-Page 3 will ask you to rate ten film and television titles as Positive or Negative in their representations
of Little People.
-Page 4 will ask you to rate ten more film and television titles.
-Page 5 will ask you to describe, in your own words, both a positive and a negative representation of
Little People you have seen in film or television.
-Page 6 will collect your demographic information and give you the opportunity to volunteer to be
contacted for a follow-up interview on this topic.

Please click Next if you understand the above directions in full.

56
Images of Little People in Film and Television

2. Images and Attitudes

This is page 2 of 6.

Please consider the following statements and select the choice which corresponds with your opinion on
each one. The choices are (from left to right) Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion/Neutral,
Somewhat Disagree, or Strongly Disagree.

- Images of Little People in film and television affect how the non-LP world views Little People.

- The attitudes of non-LPs toward Little People are PRIMARILY shaped by images they see of Little
People in film and television.

- Some images of Little People in film and television have had a NEGATIVE influence on how the
non-LP world views Little People.

- Some images of Little People in film and television have had a POSITIVE influence on how the non-
LP world views Little People.

- Regardless of how they influence the attitudes of non-LPs, it is good that there are images of Little
People in film and television.

- I think Little People are currently more positively represented on television than they are in movies.

- I think Little People are currently more positively represented in movies than they are on television.

- Images of Little People in film and television are better now than they were or have been in the past.

- Images of Little People in film and television will improve in the future.

- It is the duty of Little Person actors to ONLY take roles which positively represent Little People.

57
Images of Little People in Film and Television

3. Movies and Shows (Part 1 of 2)

This is page 3 of 6.

Please consider the following list of films and television shows featuring Little People. Then select a
choice for each title which you HAVE SEEN, based on the image of Little People represented. The
choices are (from left to right) Very Positive, Somewhat Positive, Mixed/Neutral, Somewhat Negative,
or Very Negative. For any titles which you HAVE NOT SEEN, please select Haven't Seen.

- Austin Powers (film series)


- Bad Santa (film)
- Boston Legal (TV series)
- Freaks (film)
- Little People, Big World (TV series)
- The Love Guru (film)
- Seinfeld (TV series)
- Time Bandits (film)
- Twin Peaks (TV series)
- Unconditional Love (film)

Note: The sequence of titles was randomized.

Images of Little People in Film and Television

4. Movies and Shows (Part 2 of 2)

This is page 4 of 6.

This page was identical to the previous one, with the following titles randomized:

- Carnivale (TV series)


- Family Law (TV series)
- Fantasy Island (TV series)
- Me, Myself & Irene (film)
- Poltergeist (film)
- Simon Birch (film)
- The Station Agent (film)
- Willow (film)
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) (film)*
- The Wizard of Oz (film)

* The year was specified for this title so as to avoid confusion with the 2005 re-make Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory.

58
Images of Little People in Film and Television

5. Positives and Negatives

This is page 5 of 6.

1. Please name a specific film or television broadcast (episode, series, miniseries, commercial, etc.)
which has represented Little People in a POSITIVE way. Please describe what you found to be positive
about the portrayal.

2. Please name a specific film or television broadcast (episode, series, miniseries, commercial, etc.)
which has represented Little People in a NEGATIVE way. Please describe what you found to be
negative about the portrayal.

59
Images of Little People in Film and Television

6. Demographics

This is page 6 of 6.

Thank you for participating!

The following information is being collected for demographic purposes ONLY. As always, you may
decline to answer any question(s) that you wish.

1. How do you identify? (Little Person or short-statured, Non-LP Parent of a Little Person, Other)

Note: This question was only amended to the second version of the survey, and therefore was not asked
of the first 70 participants, who instead were asked this question in the follow-up survey.

2. Gender: (Female, Male)

3. Age:

4. Race/Ethnicity: (African American/Black, American Indian or Native Alaskan, Asian or Pacific


Islander, Caucasian/White, Hispanic/Latino, Mixed/Multiracial, or Other)

5. Marital Status: (Married/Partnered, Divorced/Separated/Widowed, Never Married)

6. Do you have children? (Yes, No)

7. Highest level of education completed: (Some high school, High School Diploma, Some college,
Associate's Degree, Bachelor's Degree, Advanced Degree [Master's, Ph. D, etc.])

8. Are you now, or have you ever been a member of Little People of America? (Current member,
Former member, Never a member)

9. If you would like to be contacted for a follow-up interview, please include your contact information.
- E-mail:
- Phone number:

10. Additional comments:

60
Appendix B
Follow-Up Questionnaire

Images of Little People: Follow-Up

Thank you for participating in this follow-up to the Images of Little People in Film and Television
Survey. This is a much shorter questionnaire, sent only to a sample of participants, designed to gather
just a bit more information regarding your opinions on this matter. Again, all information will be kept
confidential, and you may skip any question that you wish, but I do ask that you input your e-mail
address so that your answers here may be matched up with your answers on the previous survey. Thank
you for your cooperation!

1. Please enter your e-mail address so that your answers may be matched up with your previous
answers. Please enter the same e-mail address you entered before (the one where you received the e-
mail about this follow-up).
- E-mail:

2. How do you identify? (Little Person or short-statured, Non-LP Parent of a Little Person, Other)

3. Are you now, or have you ever been a professional actor? (Currently an actor, Formerly an actor,
Acted once or twice, Never acted)

4. Please consider the following list of films and television shows featuring Little People. Then select a
choice for each title which you HAVE SEEN, based on the image of Little People represented. The
choices are (from left to right) Very Positive, Somewhat Positive, Mixed/Neutral, Somewhat Negative,
or Very Negative. For any titles which you HAVE NOT SEEN, please select Haven't Seen.

-Amazing Race 5 (TV series)


-CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV series)
-Elf (film)
-Frankie Starlight (film)
-House (TV series)
-Howard Stern (TV series)
-Jackass (TV & film series)
-Jerry Springer (TV series)
-L.A. Law (TV series)
-Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)

Note: The sequence of titles was randomized.

5. If you do NOT wish to be contacted for further participation in this project, please check the box.
- Please do NOT contact me for further follow-up.

6. Additional comments:

61
Appendix C: Table 1
Distribution of Answers on Agree/Disagree Statements (Primary Questionnaire)

Please consider the following statements and select the choice which corresponds with your opinion on each one. The choices are (from left to right) Strongly
Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion/Neutral, Somewhat Disagree, or Strongly Disagree.
No Somewhat Strongly
Answer Options Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree Opinion/Neutral Disagree Disagree Response Count
Images of Little People in film and television affect how
63 42 3 2 1 111
the non-LP world views Little People.
The attitudes of non-LPs toward Little People are
PRIMARILY shaped by images they see of Little People 27 56 12 11 5 111
in film and television.
Some images of Little People in film and television have
had a NEGATIVE influence on how the non-LP world 55 31 9 10 4 109
views Little People.
Some images of Little People in film and television have
had a POSITIVE influence on how the non-LP world 48 57 2 3 0 110
views Little People.
Regardless of how they influence the attitudes of non-
LPs, it is good that there are images of Little People in 55 34 6 10 5 110
film and television.
I think Little People are currently more positively
31 37 31 5 4 108
represented on television than they are in movies.
I think Little People are currently more positively
8 14 47 32 9 110
represented in movies than they are on television.
Images of Little People in film and television are better
41 48 10 7 2 108
now than they were or have been in the past.
Images of Little People in film and television will
31 47 22 8 2 110
improve in the future.
It is the duty of Little Person actors to ONLY take roles
34 26 16 19 14 109
which positively represent Little People.
answered question 111
skipped question 1

62
Appendix C: Table 2
Distribution of Ratings on Film/Television Titles, List 1 (Primary Questionnaire)

Please consider the following list of films and television shows featuring Little People. Then select a choice for each title which you HAVE SEEN, based on the
image of Little People represented. The choices are (from left to right) Very Positive, Somewhat Positive, Mixed/Neutral, Somewhat Negative, or Very
Negative. For any titles which you HAVE NOT SEEN, please select Haven't Seen.

Somewhat Somewhat Response


Answer Options Very Positive Positive Mixed/Neutral Negative Very Negative Haven't Seen Count
Austin Powers (film series) 3 14 16 30 29 17 109
Bad Santa (film) 4 4 21 21 12 47 109
Boston Legal (TV series) 40 25 5 4 2 33 109
Freaks (film) 5 1 9 12 9 72 108
Little People, Big World (TV series) 74 24 3 3 0 5 109
The Love Guru (film) 3 6 5 9 9 75 107
Seinfeld (TV series) 17 27 26 9 0 30 109
Time Bandits (film) 14 17 21 5 1 50 108
Twin Peaks (TV series) 6 6 12 3 1 77 105
Unconditional Love (film) 7 12 6 2 1 78 106
answered question 110
skipped question 2

Key: POSITIVE
NEUTRAL
NEGATIVE

Note: Ratings were counted as “Positive” or “Negative” based on the total combined ratings in the Very/Somewhat Positive and Somewhat/Very Negative categories.

If (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) > (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Positive.
If (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) < (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Negative.
If Mixed/Neutral > (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) and (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Neutral.

63
Appendix C: Table 3
Distribution of Ratings on Film/Television Titles, List 2 (Primary Questionnaire)

Please consider the following list of films and television shows featuring Little People. Then select a choice for each title which you HAVE SEEN, based on the
image of Little People represented. The choices are (from left to right) Very Positive, Somewhat Positive, Mixed/Neutral, Somewhat Negative, or Very
Negative. For any titles which you HAVE NOT SEEN, please select Haven't Seen.

Somewhat Somewhat Response


Answer Options Very Positive Positive Mixed/Neutral Negative Very Negative Haven't Seen Count
Carnivale (TV series) 6 4 15 1 2 77 105
Family Law (TV series) 20 16 9 0 0 63 108
Fantasy Island (TV series) 15 27 30 19 8 10 109
Me, Myself & Irene (film) 5 13 13 9 4 64 108
Poltergeist (film) 13 16 30 11 1 35 106
Simon Birch (film) 59 22 2 1 1 23 108
The Station Agent (film) 46 19 1 1 0 41 108
Willow (film) 31 33 15 4 0 25 108
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
11 16 34 24 14 10 109
(1971) (film)
The Wizard of Oz (film) 13 31 35 20 8 0 107
answered question 110
skipped question 2

Key: POSITIVE
NEUTRAL
NEGATIVE

Note: Ratings were counted as “Positive” or “Negative” based on the total combined ratings in the Very/Somewhat Positive and Somewhat/Very Negative categories.

If (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) > (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Positive.
If (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) < (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Negative.
If Mixed/Neutral > (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) and (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Neutral.

64
Appendix D
Distribution of Ratings on Film/Television Titles (Follow-Up Questionnaire)

Please consider the following list of films and television shows featuring Little People. Then select a choice for each title which you HAVE SEEN, based on
the image of Little People represented. The choices are (from left to right) Very Positive, Somewhat Positive, Mixed/Neutral, Somewhat Negative, or Very
Negative. For any titles which you HAVE NOT SEEN, please select Haven't Seen.

Somewhat Somewhat Response


Answer Options Very Positive Positive Mixed/Neutral Negative Very Negative Haven't Seen Count
Amazing Race 5 (TV series) 12 8 1 0 0 4 25
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV series) 6 5 3 1 0 9 24
Elf (film) 3 5 8 3 3 3 25
Frankie Starlight (film) 6 1 1 0 0 16 24
House (TV series) 5 3 3 0 1 13 25
Howard Stern (TV series) 1 0 0 3 13 8 25
Jackass (TV & film series) 1 1 4 4 9 6 25
Jerry Springer (TV series) 1 0 0 1 17 6 25
L.A. Law (TV series) 9 8 2 0 0 6 25
Pirates of the Caribbean (film series) 5 5 9 0 0 6 25
answered question 25
skipped question 0

Key: POSITIVE
NEUTRAL
NEGATIVE

Note: Ratings were counted as “Positive” or “Negative” based on the total combined ratings in the Very/Somewhat Positive and Somewhat/Very Negative categories.

If (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) > (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Positive.
If (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) < (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Negative.
If Mixed/Neutral > (Very Positive + Somewhat Positive) and (Somewhat Negative + Very Negative), then Rating = Neutral.

65
Appendix E
Film and Television Descriptions
FILM TITLE YEAR* GENRE LP ROLE LP DESCRIPTION

1 Austin Powers (series) 1999-2002 comedy supporting Miniature clone of villain. Infantilized. Prone to violence. Does not speak.
2 Bad Santa 2003 comedy supporting Criminal mastermind. Takes job as elf to gain access to store, then robs it.
3 Elf 2003 comedy cameo Respected author. Attacks main character who mistakes him for Santa's elf.
4 Frankie Starlight 1995 drama starring Author writing his autobiography. Life story is told through flashbacks.
5 Freaks 1932 horror starring Circus performers. Main couple is manipulated by evil trapeze artist.
6 Love Guru, The 2008 comedy supporting Hockey coach. Works in miniatured office. Abused for comedic effect.
7 Me, Myself & Irene 2000 comedy cameo Limo driver. Emasculates main character and steals his wife.
8 Pirates of the Caribbean (series) 2003-2007 fantasy cameo Member of pirate crew.
9 Poltergeist (series) 1982-1988 horror supporting Spirit medium. Called in to rescue a girl trapped in an alternate dimension.
10 Simon Birch 1998 drama starring Young boy in 1960s. Convinced that God has put him on earth to be a hero.
11 Station Agent, The 2003 drama starring Loner who inherits a train depot. Attracts people due to his difference.
12 Time Bandits 1981 fantasy starring Band of thieves. Leap through holes in time to steal treasure.
13 Unconditional Love 2002 comedy supporting Woman who helps her mother-in-law solve the murder of a famous singer.
14 Willow 1988 fantasy starring Member of mythical race. Chosen to protect a baby from an evil queen.
15 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 1971 fantasy supporting Mythical race. Workers in a candy factory. Carry off naughty children.
16 Wizard of Oz, The 1939 fantasy cameo Mythical race. Praise main character for killing a witch. Help her get home.
TELEVISION TITLE YEAR* GENRE LP ROLE LP DESCRIPTION

1 Amazing Race 5 2004 reality supporting Teammate. Competes with others in a race around the world for a cash prize.
2 Boston Legal 2006-2008 drama guest Lawyer. Romantically involved with one of the series' main characters.
3 Carnivale 2003-2005 fantasy supporting Co-manager of a carnival.
4 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 2002 drama cameo Convention-goers. A murder takes place at an LPA convention.
5 Family Law 2001-2002 drama supporting Lawyer. Hoping to make partner in a law firm.
6 Fantasy Island 1978-1984 fantasy supporting Assistant. Welcomes visitors to wish-fulfilling island getaway.
7 House 2006 drama cameo Mother and daughter. Seek doctor's advice over daughter's health.
8 Howard Stern 1994-2005 talk show guest Various. Often featured guest Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf.
9 Jackass 2000-2002 reality supporting Stuntman. Performs dangerous physical acts along with other castmates.
10 Jerry Springer 1991-present talk show guest Various. Features guests solving “problems” in public arena.
11 L.A. Law 1987-1989 drama guest Lawyer. Feared opposing council for main cast.
12 Little People, Big World 2006-present reality starring Mixed-height family whose life on an Oregon farm is chronicled weekly.
13 Seinfeld 1994-1998 comedy guest Actor. Friend of main cast member. Prone to anger.
14 Twin Peaks 1990-1991 fantasy cameo Spirit. Appears in dreams to main character. Gives clues to solve a murder.
* Years listed for a series indicate the period in which the LP role in question was featured.

66