You can tell who actually read a story, watched a movie, played a game, and who didn’t.

Peter Dinklage, known for playing an angry short person in a show full of horrible people…and he also made Game Of Thrones as well as Pixels (I kid; I didn’t see the movie and don’t plan to), has come out against Disney’s live-action remake of Snow White. Not because Disney is not only de-animating another classic but the movie that helped showcase that animated movies could work and was Walt Disney’s first animated feature and thus almost as important as Mickey Mouse to the company (hence the Seven Dwarves popping up a lot, surpassed only by their take on Tinker Bell, and Snow White being a popular character at the theme parks). No, no, he’s modern Hollywood and they couldn’t care less about animation because it doesn’t feature live actors…aka them. He’s not even bothered that Snow White is being played by someone who isn’t white as snow…and yes, that is the reason for her name. Kind of like Red Sonja and we know the system doesn’t care about that either.

Instead Dinklage has a problem with Snow White’s friends, the Seven Dwarves. He believes they are some kind of insult to the dwarf community for promoting “negative stereotypes”. The only stereotype listed in the article is living in caves, so if he gave any actual examples in the podcast he was in they really should have brought them up. Disney was quit to respond by saying they had no plans to use dwarves, were trying to talk to the dwarf community, and were going with “magical creatures” instead. So we have a Snow White & The Seven Dwarves that is more Snow Brown & The Seven Somebody Or Others. This is not sitting well with other dwarfs in the entertainment community, who are upset that these roles will now not be going to dwarf actors, while one dwarf Olympic athlete is against cancelling Doc, Dopey, and the rest of the boys. So despite what he and presumably Disney thinks he’s apparently not speaking for the whole community.

I don’t think Dinklage has actually seen the movie or knows anything about the story because this is a tale that is actually supportive of little people. I have a happy little list of how, and you may have seen this info on the internet in articles and comments, so let me start by one that might not be, because already he doesn’t understand…

Photo by Su01a1n Bu1eddm on Pexels.com

Dwarves are NOT the same as dwarfs!

This is a mistake by Disney and a few others but I actually looked into it. Dwarves (the spelling that should be used) are fantasy people from European folklore. Dwarfs are people who suffer from dwarfism, a term that comes from those fantasy people. They are not supposed to be the same thing. In live action dwarves are usually played by dwarfs for the same reason Christmas elves are, because the only other real world lifeforms the same size are kids. Even then, dwarves are not short humans, or humans at all. Properly drawn dwarves should not look like human being any more than elves Christmas or otherwise should. If you’re doing animation you can fix this, but when it comes to live-action you either use CG or hire smaller actors to play the part.

Any “stereotype” of dwarfs based on dwarves (the spelling exists to note the difference but even I didn’t know that prior to research, which is why I’ve been making sure to note the difference here) are not the fault of folklore or fairy tales. They’re the result of jackasses living up to the title. Maybe “dwarf” is the wrong term to use, but after “midget” was declared insulting you either have dwarf or little people, the latter being the name of a preschool toyline and may also be insulting because everything’s insulting in the 21st century. So on the most surface level of this discussion the champion of the little people (unless you ask other little people actors) has his data incorrect. Apparently surface level was also too hard for him to understand the film because….

The dwarves don’t live in the cave, they work there.

A few years ago I wrote about a book called Kingdom Of The Dwarfs, which also used the wrong spelling. The book does indeed discuss an abandoned underground dwarven village uncovered beneath some guy’s flower garden and makes conjectures about their society. So maybe this is a part of their lore. I didn’t bother looking it up because if it is then this story is actually negating that perspective.

The dwarves in Snow White don’t live in a cave. They live in a house. Snow White first meets them when, while on the run from the Queen, she stumbles upon a house in the woods and seeing nobody there and nowhere else to go makes herself at home, with the hopes than when the owners return they’ll let her stay. Part of her staying is taking care of the house. Said owners are the dwarves. They live in the house, they only work in the mines. Their income consists of mining precious stones that presumably they sell or barter in trade for things they need that they can’t get out of the forest they live in, like material for clothes and linens, or maybe that big clock they have. We don’t see them doing metalworking so they had to get that large pot somehow. This is also a positive portrayal of our diminutive heroes because…

Dwarves be doing it for themselves!

The world of this and most fairy tales is a fantasy version of medieval Europe, where and when these stories originate from. They HAD to find work of some kind to survive. There may be food in that forest, some of which is now dusty from helping Snow White clean their house so happy dreams there, but they do need other things to survive. Otherwise why mine for precious stones every day. They got the clothes from somewhere and must have had some way to maintain them before Snow White showed up. They’re hard working, independent, and understandably cautious in a kingdom run by a vain queen who treats her subjects like dirt and would kill her own daughter because she might be prettier. Maybe if you weren’t evil you’d be better looking?

Presumably they built their own not-cave, do their own mining, may even have made some of their equipment and furnishings, and take good care of themselves for guys who don’t clean up. Of course when you work in a dirty mine all day you may not have the energy to clean at night and they aren’t used to it. They are, however, able to entertain themselves, play their own instruments, and if they didn’t create their own songs they took the time to learn them. They’re also smart enough to warn Snow White not to trust strangers, which she ignores because she’s kind of gullible considering she’s a pure hearted girl who lived in a castle until some time last Tuesday. That’s why…

Disney's Festival of Fantasy Parade Finale1 (16757927351)

Jennifer Lynn, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The dwarves are the HEROES of the dang story!

This is a comment I’ve seen multiple times and they’re right! The dwarves are Snow White’s saviors until she does the gullible thing with the fruit (between Snow White and Eve I’m surprised there isn’t a stereotype about women and apples). When they first find her sleeping in their beds (all of them because she’s rather long in comparison) they’re a bit put off for obvious reasons but soon welcome her into their home. They warn her about the queen, give her shelter in case one kind and clever woodsman isn’t the end of her lackies, and give her unpoisoned food. When the queen enacts her scheme they go running after her despite being afraid of the queen before. I don’t know if they were going to demand she undo the curse or just get revenge (this being the first Disney animated movie of course the villain dies through her/his own actions instead of the hero committing murder) but they still pursue her despite being worried about her magic. Then they build a coffin to remember her beauty by…which would be a concern if it wasn’t for the prince being needed to bring love’s true kiss to awaken her and yes I know that’s not the original ending but it’s the movie ending so don’t at me.

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, while using the wrong spelling most of us get wrong, is actually pro-dwarf. Teasing ninnyhammers may use this stuff to pick on dwarfs in the real world because they don’t care that dwarfs and dwarves are not the same thing but the movie itself IS a positive depiction of dwarves and dwarf actors would love to have a role that makes them look good, where they get to be the hero, and get something on their acting resume. Petey D is so very wrong about this movie, though people suspect that Disney never planned to actually use dwarves so this just end up boosting Dinklage’s ego more than anything else. Maybe instead of complaining about the movie he should actually watch it to see if his problems actually exist. Dwarves would have to be played by dwarfs (if not replacing the actors with CG that looks like the actual folklore depictions) but it’s no different than a human playing an elf or a troll. Heck, despite the geographic area Snow White’s kingdom is based on having a dwarf of non-caucasian color playing one of the dwarves might not be as much of an issue because dwarfs already don’t look like dwarves. They are playing inhuman characters, nothing more. For a guy who played a character that by rights should have died of alcohol positioning before season one began he should understand how fantasy works. We don’t have dragons in our world, either.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

One response »

  1. […] to the sociopolitical changes to the make-up of Middle Earth. We have black dwarves, probably not played by dwarfs, women who were never badasses in the original lore now being uber-badasses according to the […]

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