Little People’s FCC complaint says Celebrity Apprentice’s “midget” commercial was “highly offensive and obscene”

The Little People of America are encouraging members to file complaints with the FCC over the “highly offensive and obscene” usage of the word “midget” during an episode of The Celebrity Apprentice 2 that aired in April. The organization plans to “use this to our advantage and notify and send a message to other broadcasting companies and networks that it is unacceptable to air programming which is degrading and humiliates people of short stature.”

That episode was the one in which teams made commercials for All laundry detergent, Clint Black pretended to masturbate with laundry detergent, which seems far more obscene to me. In that episode, Donald Trump actually criticized Jesse James’ team’s usage of little people in their commercial, which Trump said was “demeaning of the little people” and asked, “do you think that was offensive to a large group in our population?”

The FCC complaint form [Word .doc] does not, however, mention Trump’s condemnation of that word. Instead, it says that in the episode, “people with a form of dwarfism (Little People) received a tremendous amount of ridicule and humiliation,” as ‘[t]he word ‘Midget is considered and recognized by Little People of America (www.lpaonline.org) as highly offensive and obscene to the dwarfism community.”

The complaint cites the specific comments made about little people in the episode, like Joan Rivers saying “We can hang them out [to dry] on my terrace,” and the complaint says that discussion comes “along with the 12 times during the program the word ‘Midget’ was used with every attempt to humiliate people of short statured and those involved.”

In a letter addressing members about the campaign [Word .doc], the LPA says that producers eventually responded to their phone calls and “mentioned that NBC, Trump and Mark Burnett reviewed the show and stand by their production. They therefore refused to post any statement, make a donation or remove the content involving the show from their web site.” The letter adds,

“It is VERY IMPORTANT that we make a strong case against this program. If we do and convince the FCC to find that the program was offensive, we can use this to our advantage and notify and send a message to other broadcasting companies and networks that it is unacceptable to air programming which is degrading and humiliates people of short stature. Our goal is to notify and educate before a show is aired which effects the dwarfism community in a negative way. Address it before it becomes an issue. We need to educate so that we do not hear that ‘We did not know’ and the damage is already done!”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.