At first I didn’t know what I thought of this ad from Eastpak featuring little people, actually Eastpak backpacks that turn into super little people, a la the rock star above.
More accurately, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to think about these ads. The little person Rock Star is a better guitar player; the skateboarder is really good. The fact that he’s streaking maybe should have raised an eyebrow, but still I thought, “What would a little person think about them?” Adfreak’s commentary (where I found the ads) also implied that “the average height is 3-foot-9,” seemingly referring to the creatives at Satisfaction ad agency in Belgium, who created the ad.
Maybe I was being too sensitive. After all, if I automatically said the ads are offensive simply because they feature little people that seems to be more about my hang-ups than anything inherent in the ad. Did I think that any representation is bad and therefore there shouldn’t be any little people in film or ads?
As an interculturalist, my gut was to ‘go to the source’ to better understand inherent bias in the ad. Two hours of research later…what were they thinking?!
Actually, I was fascinated by clips from the TLC show Little People Big World, and also had good insight from the Little People of America website. There was a link to an article entitled “Who You Calling a Midget,” which equates the “M” word with the “N” word in terms of its negative and derogatory power.
But it was the link to the I Am the Bag Eastpak site (from brand-e.biz ) that was the clincher, where the ads can all be seen in succession. The “I am the Peacemaker ad (each of the ads claims to portray the soul of the bag–“Your soul!”) is clearly meant to portray the little person as the brunt of the joke.
And, seriously, there’s a game at the end featuring a little person dressed as an ‘ancient Zen Master’ speaking in an awful Asian Accent (“F—k Shoo”) and different characters come out and hit him (he’s protected inside the backpack) with a bat, nun chucks, yelling, kicking and more.
That is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.
I searched and found at least a dozen blogs running the link to the Adfreak piece which even uses “midget” and “wee folk” in its descriptors, but none are critical of the spots. Did it need research to uncover its offense? Or are these breakout roles? What do you think?