Saturday, April 11, 2009

'Celebrity Apprentice' episode disappoints the LP Community, the LPA and Roloff family friends

Have Matt and Amy Roloff's recent apparent lax attitude and public remarks frowning on "PC-ness" come back to haunt the LP community?

Matt Roloff's friend and employee on his official website has a statement we have discussed before - stating that society is too sensitive and somebody is always getting offended. She went on to state that words don't hurt unless you let them.

According to a person who attended Amy Roloff's recent speaking engagement and had a positive review, Amy declared that she dislikes 'PC-ness'.

"I was also surprised to hear her say that she didn't like PCness(except, of course, in the case of cruelty towards others).

Personally, I think it's a shame that "PC" has been turned into a bad thing by certain individuals. It is essentially about being sensitive to the feelings of others and opposing ignorance.

It's noticeable to me that the Roloffs have subtly been changing their stance. For years, they did not hesitate to advocate against the use of the word "midget". Matt, as former President of the LPA demanded and received apologies from public figures using the "M-word". Matt, Amy and Jeremy Roloff have all said either in the past during interviews or written material, that the "m-word" should not be used because it is hurtful and derogatory. That is being politically correct and as far as I am concerned, that is a good thing.

However, in the last 8 months, Matt Roloff's official website advocates that society is "too sensitive" and that words don't hurt. Amy Roloff has apparently now said she dislikes 'PC-ness'.

What accounts for their apparent change? I believe it is obviously in response to the 'Jeremy Roloff scandal' when he was found to be using racial and homophobic slurs. Suddenly, it becomes convenient to feel that people get offended too easily. In the past few months, the Roloffs public comments have slid over in that direction.

This brings us to current controversy that was a blow to all the positive strides the LP community has made in recent years.

It involved an episode of the NBC program, "Celebrity Apprentice" with Donald Trump. It is a show where celebrity teams make commercials for real companies and Donald Trump decides who has best or worst mind for the business world. The latest episode featured the teams creating a commercial for the laundry detergent company, "ALL". The commercial was referred to as "Jesse James gets dirty with midgets". It featured a dirty Jesse James speaking slowly, when three "midgets" run around him and wash him. At the end of the 'commercial' they curse and run away, not before screaming at the camera. Earlier in the episode, one of the celebrities expressed uneasiness about the concept and asked one of the actors with dwarfism if he was alright with being called a "midget". He replied if you're paying me, you can call me whatever you want.

There are several You Tube clips of the segment.

The wonderful Jen Montzingo has written a blog that effectively explains her feelings on this program. Jen also has a link to the Apprentice website if you want to watch the whole episode to see what it is about.

As Jen does point out, she is not only bothered by the use of the word 'midget', but the portrayal of little people as objects to be laughed at. Jen is completely correct.

If the 'joke' was 'Jesse James being washed by 'N words' would it have been thought to be funny? If it was 'Jesse James being washed by f**gots' would it have been done?

I strongly encourage you to visit Jen's blog about this issue. As usual, Jen does a wonderful job of explaining why it is hurtful.

Here is part of what Jen writes:

"Jesse James was pretty nice overall, “I treat ‘em like anyone else, they’re exactly the same as us, they’re just ‘that big’”. But what I didn’t get was this statement by James:

“They know that people point and laugh at them and they’re totally comfortable within themselves to laugh back.”

I get it. So I’m just not “comfortable with myself” so I won’t put myself in their position? How about the fact that I am just one generation ahead of the little people whose parents gave them up to institutions and circuses because society told them to be ashamed?

Why would I support taking things back a decade or two, rather than moving things forward. My biological parents gave me up for adoption because they didn’t want me to be institutionalized in Israel. They gave me a chance. It hurts, it makes me really sad, that we’ve come so far and yet still have so far to go.


The LPA - Little People of America - for those unaware, Matt Roloff was the former President, the LPA is featured and mentioned in many episodes of Little People, Big World, the Roloff family are still very closely tied with the LPA - were quick to react to the episode of the 'Celebrity Apprentice' with an announcement on their homepage of their website and a letter which can be read here:

They have a compiled a list of companies and addresses for you to contact if you are unhappy with the content featured in the April 5th episode of the Celebrity Apprentice.

On a somewhat side but related note, the New York times recently announced they would no longer be using the word "midget" in their publication.

That was seemingly a response to Gary Arnold, Vice-President of Media Relations for the LPA. This is the portion of his letter to the New York Times:

While the New York Times stays up to date with current events, the paper is years behind in terms of language identifying people of short stature. In a March 12 story (“Financial fraud is focus of attacks” March 12, 2009), David Segal wrote, “The most indelible image of the commission’s hearings was a photo of J.P. Morgan, Jr. with a midget who had been plopped in his lap by an opportunistic publicist.” For decades people of short stature have advocated against the word midget, considered degrading and objectionable, and recognized as such by a growing number of outlets and publications. Unfortunately, the word is still used today, mostly in the context of athletic leagues and automobiles. Benign or not, the word is laced with a history of objectification of people who were used as a visual gag because of a physical difference, and any use of the word is not acceptable."

One of the great things about Little People, Big World is that I believe the majority of the audience does not even think about Matt, Amy and Zach having dwarfism -- of course we know they have dwarfism, but that does not define them. They are viewed as a husband, as a wife, as a father, as a mother, as son, and as a brother - that's how you think of them. Everybody has their own opinion of Zach just as they have their own opinion of Jeremy, Molly and Jacob. To step back into the world of ignorance and see how some still view people with dwarfism as objects to be laughed at is incredibly disappointing.

I wonder how the Roloffs feel about the degrading episode of the Celebrity Apprentice? How do the Roloffs feel about the New York Times and Gary Arnold's response? I honestly do not know anymore.

Amy Roloff is apparently saying she dislikes "PC-ness". Defenders of the Celebrity Apprentice act point out that it was a "joke" and not hateful, and the LP actors themselves were not offended. If Amy dislikes 'PC-ness' except in cases of cruelty towards others, does that mean she would object to Gary Arnold and the LPA's objection to the New York Times article? While completely inappropriate, I don't think the NY Times reference could be described as "cruel". Everybody associated with this site supports Gary Arnold and the LPA. The question is, does Amy Roloff?

Matt Roloff's official website's administrators, people he appoints and has regular contact with have stated "our society has become too sensitive to MANY things. Especially to certain words. Too many people try to make something from nothing. There are much more important things to worry about than name calling. Words can't hurt you unless you let them." Matt Roloff's website administrator also argues that white teenagers should be allowed to use the "N-word" without having people object. That isn't just coming from a random person. It's coming from a person Matt Roloff has chosen to represent his official website and regularly chats with. Obviously Matt Roloff doesn't object to that message his website is sending. If it's wrong to chide a white teenager such as Jeremy Roloff for using the N word and society has become too sensitive to too many things, especially certain words - how does Matt Roloff feel about the New York Times usage of the M-word and the LPA's response?

It is sadly ironic. If you read the comments located on the 'Jesse James' You Tube clip above, unfortunately, most of the ignorant You Tube users are proclaiming that they loved the commercial and thought it was hilarious. And what is their defense? "This is PC crap!" People are too sensitive! People are always getting offended over something! Get a sense of humor!" Some of the very same arguments being used by the Roloff family and their staff in the last 8 months.

It is a slippery slope when you begin to make exceptions for the use of certain words and actions that are just plain wrong. When you make statements such as society has become too sensitive to too many things and you dislike "PC-ness" where does it end? The Apprentice episode went too far, but the NY Times reference was acceptable? They are both acceptable because society needs to lighten up?

This is precisely why personally I have zero tolerance for any words that had a history of being used either in a hateful, hurtful or derogatory manner to certain groups of people. As Gary Arnold stated in his letter, any use of those words are not acceptable.

As Jen Montzingo said "Social responsibility, people. Social responsibility."


MS said...

Excellent points! What does the LPA think of the Roloffs statements?

Greg said...

The video was bad and most people that comment on YouTube are 12 year old boys who are idiots.

I think the LPA should remove "ALL" from their letter writing campaign. One of the YT comments said they wrote to ALL telling them they loved the commercial. ALL sent this response.


Thank you for writing.

All has a proud 50-year history of serving its consumers and is a trusted name in quality and affordable laundry detergent.

We do not feel the videos produced on Celebrity Apprentice accurately reflect our values or brand. We did not have the
ability to prevent the videos from being aired on the show.Sun Products is a family company, and does not condone the airing of inappropriate content over any medium.

Kind regards,
Your friends at 'all

The YT poster called ALL "wusses". ALL is being responsible. They can't be faulted.

And your statements about the Roloffs mixed messages are right on the money. They've backed themselves into a corner to defend their precious Jeremy.

Connolly said...

I am thankful there are organizations like the LPA that are determined to end this ignorance and demeaning portrayal of little people.

Think of how you would feel if you were an LP kid or had LP children. Would you want to be seen as a joke?

Anonymous said...

Oh gawd, it WAS funny! I bet everybody watching it was laughing to themselves then they come on here and pretend to be offended.

Connolly said...

Anon @5:40 thank you for showing people your ignorance. I pray that you never have LP children.

Donald said...

The LPA is very good at getting things done. I knew the second I saw the episode on television that Celeb Ap. and NBC were going to get it. Good for the LPA for holding them accountable.

Duke said...

The video was stupid, but enough with praising the LPA.

You know what I hate? Hypocrites. The LPA are hypocrites. If they are so upset about derogatory words, why do they have a picture of Jeremy's racist mug on their page?

LPA will be on anybody saying m*dget, but they must think Jeremy is swell for saying n***** and fa****.

If I worked for NBC, Donald Trump, All, or the New York Times, that's what I would tell the LPA.

Before you scold us, clean up your people. They're patting somebody on the back that said n***** and f**, but those companies are horrible because they said m*dget?

What about Jacob Mueller? I don't see the LPA closing their conventions to his racist mouth.

I would have some respect for the LPA if they denounced Jeremy, Mueller and the Roloffs instead of celebrating them.

Either let it all go or protest it all. Don't give Jeremy a cookie because he doesn't say m*dget, he says N and f**.

Roxanne said...

Duke, are you sure the LPA has Jeremy on their site? I didn't see him. On the first page, I thought they were intentionally avoiding the Roloffs. I saw a picture of Chance and his adoptive parents.

Duke said...

Yes Roxanne.

It's the 4th page of photos. LP families and TLC documentaries.

It's an old picture. Around that time, Jeremy probably finished that and called Mueller to say "hey f*ggithole!"

Face it, the LPA likes the Roloffs because they are one of their own. They couldn't care less that Jeremy has insulted gays, blacks and mexicans.

That's fine and dandy but if they are going to love Jeremy Roloff then don't tell others to be sensitive to their cause.

Alice said...

Duke, I see your point, but the LPA still does good work. It is an old picture. I'm sure they don't support Jeremy anymore.

Jocelynn said...

Jen is fantastic. I really like her writing. I think Jen would be great on a show like "The View" to give her unique perspective on subjects like this.

She has an earthy way of explaining things without sounding holier than thou and unlike some Roloffs, she doesn't pick and choose what words are off limits.

Natasha said...

It is very sad to see that some people still think this crap is funny. I wanted to slap the woman who kept on laughing.

Michael S said...

I don't care what his on screen reaction was, Donald Trump is to blame for allowing this to air. As usual, he did it for money. He knows it would create a stir and generate publicity for his show. He must have known Little People of America would be calling.

I agree that the Roloffs have no room to talk anymore about offensive behavior. Matt and Amy should concern themselves with their own racist gay bashing son and his friends. It's better that the Roloffs they stay out of it.

Jared said...

It's wrong, but it's not even worth fighting anymore. Just worry about the important things.

There will always be people that think the sight of little people is funny.

There will always be kids and adults that will laugh at stuff like this.

There will always be teens like Jeremy Roloff will mock gay people and think it's cool to use the N word.

That's just how society is. None of it will ever change.

Give up trying to change it and just worry about the important things, like nobody being physically hurt.

Rap541 said...

Well, after all is said and done, it comes down to this. The Roloffs are "Do as we say, not as we do". Their kid calls someone the n-word? Don't be so pc, all kids do it, words only hurt if you let them.

Yet, I doubt we will ever see Amy or Matt turn to Zach and say "don't correct that person for calling you a midget. You're being too pc, and you're the one letting yourself be hurt. It's just a word."

I doubt it. I doubt Matt would like "fans" coming to the farm and singing the oompa loompa song. And I don't advocate that, btw. I just point out that it's hurtful if it's done to a Roloff - but if a Roloff is hurtful to you or someone you know - you're the one with the problem and you should accept the abuse.

Erica said...

Rap, Matt did call Jeremy's language unacceptable. I agree, perhaps he should have said more or it should have been Jeremy, but Matt said he did not support it.

It was Matt's admin that said words can't hurt, not Matt Roloff himself.

I don't feel there is a comparison between Jeremy and the Celebrity Apprentice sketch.

I also liked Jen's blog.

Rap541 said...

Matt owns his own website and its the official website. I have to assume that when the person who is Matt Roloff's moderator says "words only hurt when you let them" that Matt approves that message - especially since that particular comment has been up for some time and the moderator is still a moderator.

Or am I wrong in thinking that Matt can control his moderator?

Erica said...

Matt made his statement. Matt's website moderator is responsible for her own opinions.

I don't agree with that, but don't blame Matt for that.

Jason said...

I think if we're being real, Matt's admin's statement is how Matt feels. When I saw Matt's website admin say that last September, for a split second, I thought she would be stripped of her affiliation, but then realized it is Matt Roloff and he would approve of anybody defending Jeremy no matter how ignorant they sound.

Obviously Matt does condone it and I think that is how Matt feels. Just like what Amy has said about it, she doesn't seem outraged Jeremy said that stuff. She's sad people were criticizing Jeremy and sad he needed to watch his language from now on.

Lois said...

Has the Celebrity Apprentice people apologized yet?

Rap541 said...

I don't see Matt Roloff saying that the moderator of his website doesn't speak for him. I'm willing to listen to Matt make a statement but really, the "Words only hurt if you let them" comment has been up on for a LONG time. Obviously Matt either doesn't *care* what his moderator says or Matt agrees. I am not being unreasonable in thinking that a comment at Matt, Matt's brother Sam or Matt's employee Becky could have removed months ago is approved.

Brandon said...

Rap - Well said. It's very clear the Roloffs are annoyed that people have a problem with Jeremy's language, but this Celebrity Apprentice debacle is a great example of how they'll turn the PC switch on and off as they please.

You will never hear the Roloffs lecture the LPA about being too sensitive.

And I echo the other comments, Jen knocked it out of the ballpark with that blog.

I think the LPA should replace Jeremy's picture on their website with Jen's.

Brandon said...

Erica, Matt did not say he was sorry. Jeremy hasn't even said he's sorry. Jeremy hasn't even said if he thinks he was wrong.

Matt's statement paid lip service saying they don't support Jeremy's language, but his message was stop talking about it and leave Jeremy alone. Mueller was saying the N word online right before they took him on vacation in the summer. C'mon, it's not "in the past" and everybody logical knows it. Even if it were, those words deserve an apology since they came at the same time Jeremy was saying "don't say midget".

Dana said...

Matt's website person is RIGHT. People are too sensitive and should have thicker skin.

Rap541 said...

So Dana, you approve of my work college who calls LPBW "the midget show"? You're ok with that and would tell Matt Roloff he's being "too sensitive and get a thicker skin" if he was offended by his show being called "the midget show"?

Because I have three collegues I correct on a weekly basis over this show and if "midget" isn't offensive and isn't overly sensitive, well, you make the call.

In public of course. Is "Midget" acceptable or not? COme on Dana, we're in public - are you *fine* with midget? because if you're not, why isn't that being too sensitive and needing to have a thicker skin?

After all... "N*gger" from a Roloff is "people being too sensitive" so why exactrly is "midget" more offensive than "n-word"? oh right - Jeremy - better than Christ - Roloff -said "n-word" so "n-word" is now Christlike.

Sherri said...

Rap, I've tried to be patient with you because I am a Christian lady, but I've come to the end of my rope with you.

Jeremy James Roloff has nothing to do with the shameful Celebrity Apprentice. You are smearing the seriousness of what they did by talking about Jeremy. Stop distracting from the real issue. The Celebrity Apprentice ridiculing the little people community and undoing all the work that the Roloffs and the LPA have done.

All Jeremy did was say words all teenagers use. That's all that boy he did. He used language all teenagers use and he said it many moons ago.

Jeremy is a Christian boy that loves Jesus. He doesn't mock people. He doesn't make people into objects to laugh at them. That is what the Celebrity Apprentice did.

Jeremy's name should not even be mentioned in the same breath with such disgusting ignorance as the Celebrity Apprentice.

Rap541 said...

Sherry - why is "nword" just something teens say but "midget" horrible?

Would that Celeb Apprentice video be funny if three prancing homos did the washing? Or three servile blacks?

You give Jeremy James Roloff a free pass to use hate language. You're Christian and you insist this is how Christians boys who love Jesus speak and everyone should be pleased at how awesomely Christian Jeremy is to call someone a "fagg*thole". How is Jeremy calling people "fagg*tholes not turning peopel into objects to laugh at? How is Jeremy calling someone "the n-word" not objectifying someone?

Why is it wrong to mock the handicapped, but "good Christian boys loving Jesus" to mock mexicans? What church do you go to where all the teens talk this way?

My problem is that you sit there as say he should be excused for acting wrongly, which is exactly why he won't be changing his behavior. Jeremy namecalls with racist terms and gets a pat on the head from his fans for how that shows he's loving Jesus. Why should jeremy watch his mouth? Per you, he's not being rude, he's loving Jesus every time he says "n-word"

Red Baron said...

Wow, Sheri. I've spent the last week reading your words and I'm stunned.

Sherri said...
Rap, I've tried to be patient with you because I am a Christian lady, but I've come to the end of my rope with you.
What does being Christian have to do with it? You seem to play the Christian card as an appeal to integrity that you've yet to prove you deserve. Just being a Christian doesn't make you an authority or the voice of truth. It doesn't even make you a patient, tolerant, or decent individual. Those are character traits outside of faith and if you understood that, then maybe you wouldn't be receiving the sort of commentary you receive.

Jeremy James Roloff has nothing to do with the shameful Celebrity Apprentice. You are smearing the seriousness of what they did by talking about Jeremy.I didn't see this at all. The discussion of the blog post centered around the CA episode's treatment of little people. The blogger referenced the opinion of a blogger who not only is a LP, but is a friend of the Roloffs. The blogger than questioned how an organization ran, in part, by a Roloff could present a potentially hypocritical message in light of their own child's behavior. It wasn't an attack on Jeremy. It was an honest and relevant inquiry about double standards in light of Jeremy's actions and his parents' involvement in protesting the CA episode.

Stop distracting from the real issue. This from someone who threw in Christianity...

The Celebrity Apprentice ridiculing the little people community and undoing all the work that the Roloffs and the LPA have done.See. Now this pisses me off. The "LP Community" is not synonymous with the "Roloff family". Furthermore, if one episode of another reality show can "undo" the work of an entire population of people with disabilities, then the Roloffs haven't done a very good job. As evidenced by the commentary here and elsewhere, regarding the CA episode, most people found it distasteful and support the LP community. Nothing was undone. In fact, it would seem like the messages presented by the LP community were reinforced. People like Jenn and her blog do more for the LP community, albeit in less notorious ways, than Matt Roloff ever could.

All Jeremy did was say words all teenagers use. That's all that boy he did. He used language all teenagers use and he said it many moons ago. NO! Not all teenagers use that word. Stop using the popularity of an action or position to defend the rightness of said action of position. You do this constantly! Slavery and the prohibition of educating blacks was a popular and common position...did that make it right? If I told you "all teenagers are having sex", would you then defend the rights of teenagers to get it on?

Jeremy is a Christian boy that loves Jesus. And? You can love Jesus and be imperfect (or so I'm told). Jeremy's love for his faith doesn't make him a tolerant person by default. It also doesn't excuse bad choices or behavior.

He doesn't mock people. Oh! But, he does!! He mocks gays. He mocks mentally disabled people. He, in this very example, mocks BLACK PEOPLE by using the N word. Is it that you don't consider that (using hate speech) mocking or you don't consider them people?
He doesn't make people into objects to laugh at them.Using the word nigger doesn't objectify black people? Wow.

That is what the Celebrity Apprentice did. Irony burns.

Jeremy's name should not even be mentioned in the same breath with such disgusting ignorance as the Celebrity Apprentice.You have to be a troll.