Cynicism, Benedict Lambert, and the view of the dwarf
In Mendel’s Dwarf, Benedict Lambert uses strong words and extreme satire to discuss his genetic problem, Achondroplasia Dwarfism. He brutally emphasizes his condition. Most people with physical deformities want the outside world to see them as normal, and I believe that Benedict does as well, yet he does not allow anyone to approach him with an open mind. Perhaps the reason behind this is the fact that Benedict is SO aware of his condition and he puts himself in others’ shoes constantly trying to interpret others’ view of him.
In popular new media, people with genetic disorders often attempt to transfer knowledge to the general public. As we all know, the perception of the general public of many genetic disorders is very influenced by the media. Often the only encounter with a dwarf or with Huntington’s disease comes from a tv show or documentary. When we read about characters like Baxter or Benedict, it can be extremely difficult for a variety of reasons. Personally, the reason that I have issues with reading about tragic diseases or mutations that change people’s lives is that I have been blessed with what seems to be few errors in my genetic code.
The TV Show Little People Big World has been criticized in class as putting little people on show, much like a freak show. It is a reality tv show that highlights the lives of a family including two “little” parents, and their four kids, one of which is also little. It has been criticized for putting their genetic disorder on show, as well as their little son Zach’s health issues on display. However, when closely examined, I think the show is a great way to show the lives of dwarves to people who may have distorted views on little people. Their father invented an accessibility program for little people to be able to stay in hotels, and his wife invented the Amy Roloff Foundation which benefits athletic programs for dwarves. Benedict has a different approach to telling people about his disorder. He doesn’t really like other little people, and would prefer to patronize himself and live in the land of the tall people. His fame as a geneticist is completely based off of his height (I believe that he would not have gotten research grants had he not been examining a gene mutation that plagues his own life). The Roloffs, although just on a reality tv show, have chosen to use their fame to educate the world on the genetic disorder of Achondroplasia Dwarfism.