One awkward thing about using my living room as an office is that I get exposed to a lot of Lifetime and TLC network reruns. I noticed an interesting trend on both of those channels that there are a lot of shows about people with physical differences. For instance, there are a large number of reality shows dedicated to little people. I find the timing of their debuts fascinating because, at the same time these shows are coming out, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shut down this year. It used to be when the circus was first forming in the mid-1800s, that was the only place where people with physical abnormalities could be employed and have a good life for themselves. In fact, one of the earliest stars of the circus was named General Tom Thumb (his real name was Charles Stratton). He was one of the most famous dwarfs in the world at that time and was discovered by his distant cousin, Phineas T. Barnum. P.T. Barnum taught Tom how to sing, dance, mime, impersonate and even paired him with a “straight man” to perform prepared comedy sketches. His wedding to another little person in New York City garnered 10,000 visitors and was even received by President Lincoln at the White House. He became a highly wealthy man, owning homes in NYC and Connecticut, purchased a steam yacht, and even helped bail P.T. Barnum out of financial distress and eventually became business partners with him.
I am all for people with disabilities doing well financially, for obvious reasons. It would seem to me that General Tom Thumb didn’t have too many choices if he wanted to make money at his size. Going into show business was probably his best option. What comes to mind is the saying, “the more the things change, the more they stay the same.” We’ve been through the disability rights movement, and they include a lot of laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. So I would think that the lives of people with disabilities would be somewhat normalized or accepted by now, but that’s not the case. With just a quick look at a couple of network’s programming (TLC and Lifetime specifically), it reveals several reality TV programs showcasing the lives of little people. TV has a reputation for being unforgiving and tends to cancel their shows quickly, so to have this many shows on these two networks, means someone must be watching. I don’t have an answer for that; I just wonder why that is. I would like to see little people and all people with disabilities to all live theirs lives just like everyone else.
That’s how Hollywood Dooley rolls…..
- Posted by Bryan Dooley
- On August 14, 2017
- 0 Comments