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Opinion: ‘Game of Thrones’ provides commentary on modern day dwarfism

April 17, 2014

ruibal.1@osu.edu
Peter Dinklage attends the 'Game Of Thrones' Season 4 premiere in New York City March 18. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Peter Dinklage attends the ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 4 premiere in New York City March 18.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

I don’t usually watch “Game of Thrones,” but when I’m invited over to eat pancakes and watch TV, I’m the first one there.

In last week’s episode, there was a wedding. I’ve gathered from my friends’ comments that weddings are common on the show. This spoiled, blond brat with a creepily small face was getting married to this seemingly normal lady. The brat would then become king. I think. I was too busy stuffing my face with pancakes to follow the plot line too closely.

But one of the wedding festivities did fully catch my attention. The brat brought out five dwarves to re-enact a battle between former kings. Because little people pretending to be “normal” people is funny right? They’re just so cute and little.

Except it made everyone at the king’s table uncomfortable because his uncle was a dwarf.

Back in my friend’s living room, it also made some people uncomfortable, because I, too, am a dwarf.

It was a very interesting social moment.

What the brat was doing on the show is what I’ve dealt with most of my life, especially since coming to college. I grew up in a small town, so it wasn’t really talked about or poked fun at. I was just Sallee Ann, a silly girl who wore red lipstick that was maybe a little too bright and liked pop-punk bands just a little too much. Which is all I want to be, really. I don’t want to be a joke, entertainment for someone else. I don’t want to be a thing. I want to be a person. I am a person.

But sometimes you get thrown out into the middle of a ring for people to make as many rude comments as they want.

One night, a friend of a friend made the comment, “How have you not seen Star Wars? Don’t all midgets see all movies starring midgets?”

First of all, the “M Word” is the most offensive word to me. It makes my skin crawl with bad bullying memories.

Second of all, that person is clearly ignorant. I don’t assume that all tall people have seen every basketball movie ever made.

That same night, my boyfriend and I were walking home when a car of drunks drove past yelling something belligerent that contained The M Word several times.

My boyfriend yelled obscenities back at them and I curled up on the sidewalk of Indianola Avenue, sobbing. When we finally continued on the way home, I kept saying over and over again, “I just want to be seen as a person.”

As that “Game of Thrones” scene played Sunday night, my boyfriend put his arm around me extra tight. He, and everyone else, kept looking at me to gauge how they should react. I just kept watching the TV.

To me, that scene wasn’t a jab at little people. It was a jab at the mentioned brat character. He was the only one laughing in that scene. He was the only one that thought bullying was funny. And soon after, he was poisoned to death (Let that be a lesson to the drunks on Indianola that night).

I have been a dwarf for 19 years. But more importantly, I have been Sallee Ann for 19 years. I can laugh at things that are genuinely funny. At the end of the day, though, I still want to be respected for who I am as a person — fashion choice, music taste and all.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Hillary Keller says:

    Truly a beautiful article.

  2. David Hunt says:

    “Let them see that their words can cut you and you’ll never be free of the mockery. If they want to give you a name take it make it your own. Then they can’t hurt you with it anymore.” (Tyrion Lannister aka The Imp)

    “Dwarf” used to be the technical term for little person. Then “midget”. Terms such as “idiot” or “retarded”, “negro” or “black”, etc… used to be technical terms too.

    My advice is, don’t be too sensitive when idiots call you name – it makes them look much worse than it makes you.

  3. Sal Ruibal says:

    Great story! Size does matter: the size of one’s generosity, love, empathy, encouragement, bravery and willingness to bring out the best in others, even those whose shrunken hearts and souls don’t deserve it.

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