This is a post I would have hoped I would not have to write. Unfortunately, it seems that insensitivity still rules the roost.
If you watch much TV you have probably seen the series of Direct TV ads that feature athletes talking about all of the games they can access with Direct TV. The lesser version of these athletes as presented in the ads just has cable. There is also a version of the ad for regular Direct TV versus cable that features Rob Lowe. Today, however, while already being offended by how putrid my Cleveland Browns were playing, I saw this:
There are two primary issues I have with this ad. The lesser of the two issues is towards the end when “petite Randy Moss” is shown trying to reach something on a top shelf at a grocery store. This may seem funny to some folks, but as a person who has to scale the shelves for pretty much everything I want, I can tell you it is certainly not funny to me. It’s probably also not funny for people who are shorter than me, as many people with achondroplasia are. People in wheelchairs probably don’t find it funny either.
The greater concern I have, however, is the overriding sentiment of the ad. It presents the message that a “petite” version of a person is lesser than a regular-sized person or a tall person like the real Randy Moss. Super-imposing “Don’t be like this me” as they show the petite Randy Moss trying to reach something on the shelf sends the distinct message that little people are a) laughable b) inferior c) something you don’t want to be.
I do not share these concerns on my own behalf. My ultimate worry is for young people who are probably dealing with bullying at school already, just like I did. They may be dealing with self-confidence and self-image issues, just like I did. For boys especially, this ad says that it’s ok to make fun of short people, not to mention Little People, because a celebrity is participating in the joke.
That is what makes this ad unforgivable to me.
It’s easy to make fun of Little People for some reason. Somehow it does not occur to people that dwarf jokes and things like this ad are actually really offensive to people who just might be, well, little. This ad is not ok. It is insensitive, inappropriate, gratuitously foolish, and potentially harmful.
Please join me in asking Direct TV to take this commercial off the air and to apologize for the insensitivity they have shown. Imagine if another minority was portrayed as lesser in such a brazen fashion. The outcry would be palpable. This is not, or should not, be an exception.