Well played, Dr. Obvious

The rule on the "Daily Random Panel" is that I post only one panel with no explanation other than the title. I like the challenge of the headline interacting with the panel to make humor; it doesn't always work and like any rule can be overly restrictive, but I like it.

I'm making an exception today because, first, both panels here are necessary for maximum humor value. I find it funny because you see the curse being leveled and then immediately in the next you have the diagnosis by the doctor, who clearly has one of the least communicative patients in history. "Oh really, a curse by an evil one you say, how interesting. Nope, no clue how that could've happened!" Check the preceding panel, pal!

I dithered over whether or not to post it, though, because clearly part of the horrible curse is that the family would forevermore be forced to have Little People children, though back in the Forties they used the term of the day, "Midgets". That seemed offensive to me, because a person's physical stature shouldn't be equated to the status of their soul (here, they're little because they're greedy). And something about the term "midget" sounded an alarm bell.

So it being 2011 and all, I used The Google and came across this interesting email exchange between Roger Ebert and Daniel Woodburn, better known as Kramer's buddy on "Seinfeld". As I suspected, "Midget" is considered an offensive term by a significant chunk of the Little People population.

Which put me in an awkward position.

Should I go ahead and re-publish the panels, even though they are pretty offensive by modern standards, taking into account that in 1944 there really wasn't any other term? However, that doesn't really get around the issue that language aside, the panels are making the explicit point that being small (at least, if you've been cursed by an evil wizard) means you have a shriveled soul.

On the other hand, what makes the panels funny doesn't have anything to do with the language, it's the obliviousness of the doctor that made me laugh.

So after thinking about it for a while, obviously I decided to go ahead and re-publish it. I thought that it might be a good opportunity to highlight some of the history of the struggle of Little People, and to highlight the fact that "midget" is an offensive term (which I suspected vaguely but didn't really know).

Hopefully the good done here outweighs the harm. If any Little People are reading this and want to chime in, I'd sure love to hear from you.

(From "Heroic Comics" number 28, 1945.)

13 Responses to Well played, Dr. Obvious

  1. TheNate says:

    I find the notion of little people being extremely more offensive. But then, I am normal height.

  2. Sutter_Kaine says:

    What I want to know is, is the doctor in panel 2 wearing glasses or are those his eyebrows?

  3. Bael says:

    Oblivious? If the captain didn’t tell him about that last panel, I think he’s pretty damn brilliant to come up with a diagnosis like that. Even Hugh Laurie needs an hour and a whole slew of painful and invasive tests.

  4. AJW says:

    thus tolkien’s dwarves were born

  5. McKnight57 says:

    Anyone else confused as to why the captain is pulling on the old wizard’s beard in order to kill him?

  6. The Imp says:

    I’m with TheNate. I think ‘Little People’ sounds MUCH more offensive. Really patronizing and condescending. But it’s not the first ridiculous PC label and it won’t be the last, and since the majority of vertically-challenged folks seem to like it, meh.

    Me, I’ll stick with ‘midget’. If it was good enough for Hank Nasiff (RIP), it’s good enough for me.

  7. spidercow2010 says:

    Maybe they’d like “Imps.”

  8. McKnight57 says:

    Pretty sure all of those beat out:
    1) The League of Mighty Mice
    2) Oompa-Loompas
    3) Weird little bastards
    and my personal favorite
    4) Evil little gremlins
    then there’s the individuals
    5) Tattoo
    6) Mini-Me
    7) Wee Man

    Actually 4 and 5 were references to a guy I used to work with, who honestly didn’t mind.

  9. punkjay says:

    Worst curse EVER!

  10. Sutter_Kaine says:

    1) Didn’t this discussion sort of already take place in regard to a word that in contemporary venacular has become synonymous with a certain sexual preferance, and wasn’t it determined that the polite thing to do was use the word in accordance with the wishes of said community?
    2) As a “normal-sized” person (whatever that means), why would I even have a personal stake in how to refer to another group, regardless of whatever arbitrary characteristic that group has chosen to identify itself by? Why wouldn’t I simply concede to their wishes and refer to them in the manner they prefer? Does that really qualify as political correctness or is it just being polite?

  11. Jeff Hebert says:

    +10 to Sutter_Kaine. Well said, and that summarizes my position perfectly. Thank you.

  12. frankie says:

    @McKnight, number5…The source of Sampson’s strength was in his hair. Perhaps the source of this wizard’s life lies within his beard.

    Or maybe it’s just a department store Santa thing. The captain may have killed false wizards before, and he’s checking to see that he’s the real thing before he kills him.

  13. McKnight57 says:

    frankie (12): I wasn’t really thinking about the Sampson part, but I did like department store Santa reference. I guess now he has the proof he needed.

    Has anyone even considered what the kid’s age might be? If he’s like 16, then there’s possibly a problem, but if he’s 4, notsomuch. And who knows, he may just be one of those people who gets distracted by sh – ooh look, a quarter. Wait, where was I?