Height Discrimination - in The Media

In The Media

In the media, heightism can take the form of making fun of people whose height is out of the normal range in ways that would be unseemly if directed at skin color or weight. The portrayal of short men in the media is in general negative. In general, short statured men are portrayed as unsuccessful in career, romance, etc. (e.g., Spence Olchin, Bud Bundy, and George Costanza) or they are unlikeable tyrants in need of compensating for "something" (e.g. Lord Farquaad from the Shrek films or to a lesser degree Edward Elric). Notable exceptions are roles played by Michael J. Fox (especially Mike Flaherty from the TV series Spin City, where a short man is portrayed as an attractive and likable person, who is successful both in romance and career), and Kevin Connolly's portrayal of Eric "E" Murphy in HBO's television series Entourage (Connolly is 5 ft 5 in or 1.65 m)

Similarly, shorter men are often denied leading roles. Although some famous cinema actors such as Alan Ladd 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) and Tom Cruise 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) have been short in real life, in their fictional depictions they have been presented as taller. There have also been cases of very tall actors encountering problems in Hollywood. Dolph Lundgren and Armie Hammer, both standing about 6 ft 4 1⁄2 in (1.94 m), stated that they had lost jobs or were about to do so because of being too tall.

When Daniel Craig was announced as James Bond in 2005, intense criticism of the casting decision (made by Eon Productions) included the notion that the actor was too short to play 007, even though at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) Craig is above average height for a white British male. There have also been complaints on Henry Cavill being chosen to play Superman, arguing that he at a stature of 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) was too short for the role.

In the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader is depicted as having longer artificial legs attached, making him massive and taller than his original form. Vader's spoof, Dark Helmet in the movie Spaceballs (1987), is depicted as being very short in stature.

In the Monty Python sketch Archaeology Today, an interviewer (Michael Palin) demeans Professor Lucien Kastner (Terry Jones) for his 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) height, calling him a "five-foot ten-inch weed," and continually praises Sir Robert Eversley (John Cleese) for his 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) stature.

In 1987 the BBC comedy series A Small Problem imagined a totalitarian society in which people under the height of 5 feet (1.5 m) were systematically discriminated against. The program attracted considerable criticism and complaints which accused the writers of reinforcing prejudice and of using offensive terms; the writers responded that their intention had been to show all prejudice was stupid and that height was chosen randomly.

In Jhonen Vasquez's Invader Zim, the Irken hierarchy is based on height, with the tallest being the leader, and the shortest receiving no credit for conquering planets or given the worst assignments, such as Skoodge's case.

The Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode Jones features a serial killer who preys on shorter women. The detectives theorize that these women are targeted because "they made feel powerful, could dominate them." Eventually Alexandra Eames (played by Kathryn Erbe, 5 ft 2 in or 1.57 m) baits herself for the suspect, who shows an attraction to her.

In an episode of The Simpsons called Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy, Homer criticizes his father for never saying anything nice to him. In response, Grampa says, "I was always proud that you weren't a short man."

S&M Short and Male, a documentary aired in 2008, showed obstacles that short statured men face every day in life, love and work.

Read more about this topic:  Height Discrimination

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