It’s hard to believe that this story even has a reason to exist, but when Chelsea Handler appeared on Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, their mutual histories of offensive talk collided in grand fashion on the subject of little people.
In retrospect, I guess we shouldn’t be shocked by Chelsea’s insensitivity on any subject. Just in the recent past, she’s been called out by GLAAD for mocking Chaz Bono. Chelsea has recently attempted to take an anti-bullying stance even though she’s one of the biggest bullies out there. Rosie’s record isn’t much better after parodying the Chinese language with a “Ching Chong” rant and then issuing an obligatory (half-assed) apology but only when pressured to do so. Rosie also took great joy in offending Southerners with her “mom in law impression,” which was okay to her because it’s only “comedy” and “What can u do? I come in peace.” Of course, we all know that Rosie would demand much more from anyone who would dare to do an impression of an angry lesbian or someone who drinks too much, right? No one is allowed to mock Rosie or her pet causes, but she thinks it’s okay for her to make fun of other groups in the name of “comedy.”
Well, Chelsea and Rosie’s discussion about little people wasn’t funny at all, and the Little People of America are opening the topic up for discussion. Here’s the lowdown:
Rosie O’Donnell’s recent interview with Chelsea Handler on her Oprah Winfrey Network talk show is causing big problems for both performers with America’s little people.
One segment of the interview, which took place on “The Rosie Show,” had the two talk show hosts discussing their differing opinions of people with short stature. Basically, Handler loves them while O’Donnell is afraid of them.
“I’m a little ashamed about it [but] I have a mild fear or anxiety around little people,” O’Donnell confessed before asking Handler point blank: “Would you ever do a little person?”
Handler’s quick response: “No, that would be child abuse. I’d never do that.”
“That’s half my issue,” O’Donnell said. “The problem with me is I can’t put the two things together. This is an adult person, a little person … it’s so hard for me.”
Handler takes the opposite view.
“I love little people,” she said. “I want to tackle them. I see them and I want to hold myself down. I bite Chuy [Bravo] sometimes. … He’s so cute and that’s my ultimate body. If you’re going to have a little person, I want that shape, the corpulence.”
Both Handler and O’Donnell’s comments are a big issue for Little People of America, a support group for Americans of short stature due to dwarfism.
Spokeswoman Leah Smith says both viewpoints are equally offensive, but in different ways, so the group has taken the steps of sending separate open letters to Handler and O’Donnell to make their concerns known.
“We decided to separate the two because they are both equally offensive, but separate,” Smith told HuffPost Weird News. “Handler used a lot of ‘pity rhetoric’ when discussing Chuy, saying he couldn’t get a job if not for her.
“For the record, we’re not in need of ‘getting saved.’ We are capable of being successful in any job.”
Although Handler often asks Bravo to do things like dress up in baby clothes, he has publicly said he has no problems with that, saying it’s part of the job. For that reason, Smith said the LPA has no problems with him choosing to take the job.
LPA has a bigger problem with O’Donnell’s comments, because she attributes her feelings to heredity.”My Nana was afraid of the ‘Wizard Of Oz’ munchkins,” she told Handler.
Smith says the comedian is perpetuating “fear-based attitudes.” “Instead of pepetuating these fears, let’s learn how to accept differences,” Smith said.
The Huffington Post contacted representatives for both Handler and O’Donnell, but neither have responded the Little People of America’s comments.
Smith said the group is angry, but doesn’t plan a boycott of either performer.
“We’d rather start a discussion and deal with the issue head on,” she said. “No other group is marginalized like this.”
[From Huff Po]
I agree with the LPA’s statement that no other group is as alienated to such a point within the United States. Our society in general tiptoes around in the name of political correctness when it comes to race and gender, but little people are often treated as mere novelties throughout our culture and are even subjected to cruel practices such as dwarf tossing, which has only recently gathered attention because Peter Dinklage was willing to speak out against the practice.
As far as Chelsea and Rosie’s twin offensive statements of ignorance, I am sad to say that their joint insensitivity is not surprising at all. I’d go into specifics of exactly why Chelsea’s statement that having sex with a little person would be like “child abuse” is an incredibly stupid and hurtful thing to say, but her words really speak for themselves. Rosie tries to explain away her perspective by admitting to being ashamed of her fear of little people, but she’s not fooling anyone away from her own prejudices. Both of these ladies (especially Rosie) are quick to point out only the injustices that matter to them, but they are all too willing to make insensitive and racist comments in the name of comedy. Of course, Oprah is allowing this nonsense to occur on her network, and she wonders why no one is watching.
Photo of Chelsea Handler (Belvedere) RED Pre-Grammys Party on 2/9/12 courtesy of WENN; Photos of Rosie at Building Dreams for Kids Gala on 11/19/11 and at the BRC Inaugural Benefit Gala on 6/6/11 courtesy of WENN