Despite Peter Dinklage’s recent attempt to position himself as a progressive champion by railing against the continued depiction of Snow White’s Seven Dwarf companions as dwarfs, a number of other dwarf performers — including WWE star Dylan “Hownswoggle” Postl — believe the Hollywood actor’s commitment to being “woke” could threaten their livelihoods and ruin opportunities for others like them.
British actor Choon Tan, who has starred as a number of Snow White’s companions in various productions across England, told The Daily Mail that he felt Dinklage’s comments were “hypocritical,” as “a lot of my colleagues and myself rely on that work to get by, and it’s just embracing your uniqueness because when I play the part, they utilise my body building and other people’s skills. ”
“And when I’m playing the part, it makes me feel quite impressive, because I feel like the spotlight is on us and it’s quite a magical experience, and just to be on stage – it really helps my confidence,” Tan added. “’I think everyone who does it, they do it because they enjoy it. They wouldn’t do it otherwise. I’d encourage Disney to stick to the original.”
Tan further noted his fear that, if Disney were to ultimately abide by Dinklage’s request, the dwarf-specific roles would be eliminated from widespread productions altogether, as he believes “it will have a knock on effect because other people might think it might be derogatory to have a dwarf in a certain role.”
“I’ve had people that have hired me for entertainment and stuff and they have that concern as well, where they’re like ‘Oh, we weren’t sure if we were going to book you’,” he recalled. “But don’t feel bad about it because I don’t feel bad as long as you’re being respectful. I’m here, I’m getting paid and this is supporting me in my life.”
Fellow dwarf actor Zita Ferry echoed Tan’s sentiments, explaining to the outlet, “’I honestly feel that the shows are good for little people such as myself, if Disney didn’t use dwarf actors I do feel it takes that away from us.”
“The entertainment industry is the biggest positive we have in our position,” she noted before likewise accusing Dinklage of hypocrisy. “Peter Dinklage made a vast amount of money in Game of Thrones, a series that saw him referred to as countless derogatory terms. If he was so against the use of the term dwarf or similar, or even dwarf actors would he have been in the series at all?”
Adding his voice to the growing chorus of Dinklage’s critics in a separate interview given to TMZ, Postl took a more critical tone towards the actor’s complaint, asserting “Here’s my issue, my issue with everything Peter Dinklage has said with this whole situation with the Snow White and the seven dwarves and the remake coming: It’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It’s not “Snow White and the Seven Normal Sized Humans Like Every Other Movie.’”
He elaborated, “This is a fairy tale, a remake of a fairy tale, and this is also giving seven dwarves – people, real life people, actors – a chance to star in a movie, in a role that is fit for them, literally fit for them.”
“When The Greatest Showman came out, I couldn’t be the main lead. I couldn’t be P. T. Barnum,” he said. “I could’ve been one of the side acts, because that role was made for me. And the issue at hand is, by saying this, he’s doing something worse for the dwarf and the little people community – he’s trying to take roles away.”
Postl then opined, “It really blows my mind, the whole woke thing…You’re going too far, in my opinion. It’s too far, it’s too much. You’re trying to change something that doesn’t need to be changed.”
“There was nothing wrong with how these dwarves were portrayed – he wants to say ‘these cave dwellers,’ that’s wrong, first off, they lived in a cottage,” he said. “They worked, and they had a whole lot of gems, so in reality, they were rich. Let’s be honest here, in a fairy tale world, these guys were rich, and they all had separate characteristics that made themselves different from each other. They weren’t just one ‘being’ of dwarfs.”
Like both Tan and Ferry, Postl also claimed that Dinklage’s criticism was drenched in hypocrisy, noting that the actor “also had no issue – no issue – being cast as a dwarf in Elf, when he was representing that whole situation. That paycheck cleared just fine. When he was in Game of Thrones, he had no issue when that role was cast for a dwarf. That paycheck cleared just fine.”
It should be noted, however, that the punchline of Dinklage’s appearance in Elf was not his dwarfism per se, but rather Buddy the Elf’s (Will Ferrell) obvious and offensive ignorance to the fact that he is not an actual elf.
“Now this, all of a sudden, is crazy?” he asked. “This needs to be changed for current culture? Come on now.”
Ultimately, Postl concluded, “Disney, reach out to me, I will take every dwarf role you want. It could be Snow White and Twenty-Five Dwarfs. I have twenty-four friends in the dwarf community that would do these roles. That’s the issue here.”
Dinklage’s grievances against Disney’s upcoming live-action production were initially aired during a recent appearance on Marc Maron’s aptly named podcast, WTF With Marc Maron, telling the comedian “Well, you know, it’s really progressive to cast a— literally no offense to anyone, but I was a little taken aback by — they’re very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White. But you’re still telling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs so.”
“Take a step back and look at what you’re doing there,” he continued. “It makes no sense to me. Because you’re progressive in one way but you’re still making that f*****g backward story of the seven dwarfs living in a cave. What the f*** are you doing, man?”
“Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I’m not loud enough,” he concluded. “I don’t know what studio that is. But they were so proud of that. And all love and respect to the actress and to the people who thought they were doing the right thing, but I’m just like, ‘What are you doing?”
Unsurprisingly, just a day after Dinklage’s appearance on Maron’s podcast was officially published, Disney responded to the actor’s concerns by assuring him and the public that, “to avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community.”
TheWrap would then report that Disney is set to completely remove the dwarfs from the film, instead replacing them with “magical creatures.”
“Instead of dwarfs, Disney will fill the void with a group of what they describe as ‘magical creatures,’ according to casting sheets that TheWrap has seen,” they reported.
In addition to the above actors, British Paralympian and fellow dwarf Will Perry also expressed disagreement with Dinklage, asserting during a recent appearance on Good Morning Britain, “I don’t think we should cancel a fairy tale that’s so well-loved. Obviously, so many people — they don’t love it for the Dwarfs — they love it for the story, and innocently as well. So I don’t think it should be cancelled.”
“It’s brilliant to have a little look. And say, ‘Okay. Let’s consult people with dwarfism,’ he said. “Get their opinion. We might have to make some tweaks, but I don’t think it should be cancelled at all even if it’s just adjusting the name slightly or the way we are presented.”
He further noted, “We are not in a cave. We are in a house. We are not depicted as mindless, stupid characters. We are sentient beings. We have feelings.”
What do you make of these responses to Dinklage’s criticisms? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!