Chelsea Handler & Rosie O’Donnell called out for offensive little people jokes

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

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43 Responses to “Chelsea Handler & Rosie O’Donnell called out for offensive little people jokes”

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  1. Sasha says:

    I won’t comment on Rosie but I don’t know why you think Chelsea is such a bully. I don’t really get it. I’ve heard lots of male comedians say much worse I’m sure. I think Chelsea has a bit of sass to her which I like. Even if she crosses the line sometimes I kind of like that she’s totally balls out and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. We need more females like her who aren’t going to tip toe around the guys.

    • magda says:

      but her comment about little people was really awful!! /I’m not living in America, i’m not watching her show, so I don’t have an opinion about her in general/

      ps. yesterday I had marathon with game of thrones and peter dinklage! I would hit it ;)/

  2. Rachel() says:

    That is messed up. I saw a little person crying outside of a Walmart one time b/c some stoned redneck asshole had made rude comments to him. This is in no way better. I’d stopped liking Rosie when she made all those comments about how gun owners should be put in jail, but I had no idea she was this much of a bitch. I already knew Chelsea was.

    • JenJen says:

      Doing a comedy routine about a certain condition is NOT the same as being an outright asshole and making fun of someone in person. One is humour towards a group, one is singling out individual and bullying. What that redneck (oh gee, maybe that’s un-PC?) did to that fellow in person is hideous.
      I cannot STAND Rosie, and I don’t really like Chelsea’s brand of humour but I don’t hate her. I just don’t care.

      • RahRah says:

        But this type of “comedy” can make individuals think it’s ok to make fun of little people, which may translate to single instances of bullying. It perpetuates the dehumanisation of little people.

      • JenJen says:

        Let’s not get carried away here. Comedy is comedy, and if you’re not mature and intelligent enough to understand that a stand up routine is one thing and calling someone names is another, you shouldn’t be watching the comedy in the first place. That’s exactly like saying violence in movies and video games “make” people think it’s okay to go out and rob a store.
        People need to be responsible for their own actions, and you can’t blame the big bad media for “making” people do things because they’re not smart enough to understand the difference.

      • Cait says:

        I agree completely!
        While they are both inappropriate comments… you have to understand that Chelsea Handler is a comedian. She makes statements like that constantly. She makes fun of all the people who work for her, whether they are black, white, Jewish, fat or little people. Chuy is not the only one she has made dress up as a baby… or worse. She is a comedian. Her routines are offensive and inappropriate and she is always ON. You don’t have to like it, just like you don’t have to like any of the other inappropriate, bigoted, racist comedians out there (which they practically all are.)

        Rosie is another story. She’s not funny and I don’t think she was trying to be. I can’t even comment on her.

      • kajsdasd says:

        Because she has nothing else in her arsenal of comedy except making fun of people. Making fun of dwarfism is so f*cked up, I can’t even believe it’s a topic of debate. Let’s make fun of people with Cancer while we’re at it. Or how about babies born with defects? ‘Oh they freak me out a little bit.’ It’s unacceptable. You’d think someone who gets offended by anything at the drop of a hat like Rosie O’Donnell would get that. These are actual people, not god damn animals. They can hear and process what you’re saying, you know.

  3. Zigggy says:

    Neither one of those women are funny- they just say the most rude & offensive things that come to their minds- can’t stand them.
    I understand why the LPA is offended- the attitude towards little people is quite sad and upsetting. I can’t imagine having to go through my life like that, and I’m really lucky to not have to.

    • JenJen says:

      I can’t stand Rosie, and I just don’t care about Chelsea.
      However, any group of people who are “different” are going to be targets of bullying and humour, and it’s not always fun.
      It’s hard enough that society demands political correctness, for fear of offending someone. I think most people ought to grow a thicker skin. For one thing, saying “little people” reminds me of Hobbits or really thin girls, but I’m not allowed to say “midget” or “dwarf” bc at some time in the past it was used in a mean-spirited manner and hurt someone’s feelings. *Sigh* Same with “retarded” — now this is thought of as a cruel, mean thing to say. I would use it strictly to describe someone with mental limitations, never as an insult, but now that’s not good enough because someone was a dick and someone got offended, so now I have to keep up with “developmentally delayed” or whatever overblown name the PC police come up with every year.
      I, for one, am partially deaf – not full deaf, but of course I get labelled as “deaf” a lot… I could start huffing and puffing about how inaccurate and offensive that is and how my feelings are hurt, but I choose to not make a big production about it. I just say “half deaf” instead of “hearing impaired” or whatever other PC term people come up with because it’s quick, easy, and explains exactly what’s going on. And then MOVE ON.

  4. Petunia says:

    We certainly do live in an overly-PC world that’s been shrink-wrapped to “protect” people from hearing what’s “offensive.” I don’t know how the world managed to go around for the past 100,000 years with civilization, given that everything possible is offensive. Sometimes I think we are the biggest crybabies on earth.

    • ZZZ says:

      I love your comments Petunia! ♥
      I so badly to start an organization for People Who Are Offended by Idiots That Get Offended By Any Possible Thing They Can Think Of!
      I’m so sick to death of it. People go out of their way to get offended these days.
      Although, in this case their being offended is not entirely unjustified.

    • Bubbling says:

      Agreed, but my problem is not being offended. I get second hand embarrassment hearing them trying to be funny when they are just plain rude…

    • Julie says:

      i agree. people say stupid things since we are able to speak but nowadays it becomes a witchhunt.

      its not about educating people about certain minorities but more to exclude someone who says something wrong from society. you know not “he said something wrong, i think we should tell him why it is wrong” but more like “burn him”.

      funny enough if people would stop being offended so much people wouldnt offend so much because they would get a lot less attention.

      there will always be someone offended, thats part of life, deal with it. a free society needs a complete free speech.

      if you dont want to offend anyone: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

  5. Petunia says:

    And for the record, I could almost qualify as an official “little person” myself (only off by maybe an inch?)

    • Beep says:

      So you have Achondroplasia? Or are you just “an inch short” of having it? Its medical condition. It’s not just not being tall. Christ.

      • JenJen says:

        Achondroplasia is only one type of dwarfism. And if Petunia is 4’11”, then yes, she’s just an inch short of being a little person — it CAN be just being really short.

  6. Nev says:

    this is kinda silly….

    everybody knows that chelsea’s humor (whether you find it funny or not) is like Redd Foxx or Richard Pryor in a really offensive style.

    been around for ages, nothing new.

    she loves little people.

    the climate of sensitivity these days is getting outta hand…sorry.

    • nemera says:

      Please.. don’t ever compare the likes of Chelsea Handler or Rosie to the likes of Redd Foxx or Richard Pryor.. I understand your point.. but trust in 20 years nobody will remember who these two are.

      They are both offensive in a way that is not funny. Each pretends to be something they are not.

      I think it is funny how all these groups get upset when the offensive talk is about them, but when she is being racist or talking about children where was the outrage then. Yeah silent.

      There is funny then their is something else. These two are something else.

  7. brin says:

    Can’t stand either of them. They aren’t funny, just loud, rude idiots.

  8. Agnes says:

    these two, like a lot of male comedians, are angry a-holes. they’ll stop once we stop paying attention to them and allowing them to make money. bleh.

  9. kim says:

    There is a way to make funny, edgy, comedy, have it be funny and still make a social commentary. See: Chris Rock or Louis CK

    • werty says:

      C Rock is not the best example, i cringed through one of his specials. Ive never seen/heard so much sexism in one performance before.

  10. patw says:

    you know – none of this happens when male comedians do it…

  11. Anne says:

    Yeah, I don’t think little people can be successful at “any job.” For example, professions in professional athletics are not really that feasible, are they?

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but I can’t stand Rosie. She is just a real b*itch, who whines when someone offends her but who can be as offensive as she wants towards other people. I stopped watching the View because of her and was happy when she left – I wish Oprah would’ve kept her off TV.

  13. TheOGSasha says:

    I’m scared of unfunny has-been lesbians, but that’s OK because so was my grandmother, right Rosie?

  14. grayze says:

    I am so…not shocked to see Chelsea and Rosie in the title of this piece, or to find that either of them have been insensitive. It’s kind of par for the course with both of them.

    That said, I always hate the assumption that for female comics to be equal to, or as good as, male comics, they need to be offensive/insensitive/douchebaggy. I think Tina Fey’s hilarious, and while her comedy is sometimes crass, I think she can go toe-to-toe with the men WITHOUT trying to offend everyone in the room.

    And for those who say it’s a double standard to call out Chelsea and Rosie…I dunno. A lot of male comedians have been called out for their douchebaggery, including Tracy Morgan, so it’s not really anything new…

  15. Kay says:

    looks like Donald was right all along.

    I don;t care about Chelsea, but I am surprised about Rosie, only so much in that I would have hoped she had learned some humility by now.

    Oprah better do some heavy damage control. is this not the polar opposite of everything Oprah has preached her entire career? yet she gives Rosie the platform to spout it from.

  16. HoustonGrl says:

    Classless. Both of them. And they’re.not.funny.

  17. Beatriz says:

    Ugh, I hate both women. Disguising racism, and discrimination as comedy is disgusting. The irony is, that you would think at least Rosie would have a little more sensitivity, being a lesbian woman herself, a minority who has faced homophobia and oppression for years. The thing that really bothers me is, that these are public figures, who like it or not, a lot of people tune in and listen to; they need to be more responsible with the things they say.

    • jc126 says:

      I know! She’ll flip out if offended personally, but denigrates little people? Unreal. Every time I start to think she might be okay, she says or does something else obnoxious.

      It’s extremely creepy to me when someone makes fun of little people. It seems like a window into their character, and it’s not flattering, to say the least.

  18. Photo JoJo says:

    Apropos of nothing, I find Peter Dinklage incredibly sexy, always have, and he is officially on my Celebrity Freebie List. It’s laminated. 🙂

    • 88Modesty88 says:

      But JoJo, how do you add more names? Do you have a digital copy saved on your computer so you can just add more freebie list names? And then you print it in nice DIRTY DOZEN letter type and laminate it yourself?

      Enquiring minds…


  19. The Truth Fairy says:

    These are the LAST two people who should be making fun of the way people look ….

  20. Flan says:

    Remember that Peter Dinklage spoke out against dwarf tossing.

    And now we get immature idiots saying stuff like this.

    • Spuddles says:

      I think dwarf tossing must be in the first 3 totally disrespectful things to do, not to mention the shame of what a little person has to do to make money!

      On the other hand we don’t have fat people tossing yet – I think Rosie would be great at this – oh no, wait, we do – its called professional wrestling – what she can’t do physically she’ll make up for it by mouthing off….

      I do not watch Chelsea, Rosie nor Oprah and my world is perfectly happy, thank you!

  21. NYC says:

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>> DOG <<<<<<<<<<<<<

  22. Lee Lee says:

    It is ignorant for the LPA to say “No other group is marginalized like this.”
    When FAT people (and many other groups) are as ridiculed as Little People. They have every right to be upset, but they can’t own that they are more judged against than others or they become as bad as the comidians in question. One thing though, most people just think it, at least with these two speaking of it outloud it has opened a conversation for us to teach our children that just because others do it, even our own families, we will not carry on the stupidity of judging others not like ourselves. Thank you for listening

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      Yeah, empathy gets lost in the shuffle when another round of Opression Olympics starts up.

      Nice nose goblin there, Squint Monster. Are You There, Snotrag?