I may sound like a broken record, but again I question my media strategy. Ever since Spike TV contacted Little People of America in November of 2009 about the Half-Pint Brawler reality program, I've been gripped by the build up and debut of the reality program that follows a group of little people who are wrestlers. I was interested because, even though the wrestlers embrace the m-word, the Spike Network seemed to distance itself from language. For this reason, in the last few weeks leading up to the pilot debut of the program, when media asked for a comment on the show from LPA, I stayed away from talking about the show itself, but used the opportunity to speak about language. The goal being not to spark any controversy about the show itself, but to continue to bring attention to the negative impact of the m-word. In hindsight, maybe it's obvious that if the media, or the network, wanted controversy to bring attention to the show, the could probably find it in anything negative LPA said.
At first I was happy with media coverage about the show. The New York Times and a few other outlets ran stories that included LPA's stance on language, but try to create controversy where there was none. Some people were angry LPA wasn't going after Spike TV for producing a program that reflects traditional stigmatizing roles for little people, and a few people wanted us to challenge The New York Times for limiting their pieces that include dwarfs to stories about archaic entertainment (earlier they covered the park in China), but I thought our approach to the Half-Pint Brawler show was the most practical.
Following the pilot episode, in came a few more media requests for comment. Not wanting to push my luck, I sent an email reply with a generic statement about why we believe the m-word is negative and what it does to promote negative stereotypes. Most recently, a request came from TMZ. Though TMZ may be the web version of the Enquirer, I've always appreciated TMZ because they've recognized and observed concerns from people of short stature about language. I sent TMZ the generic email.
From the statement I sent, TMZ wrote this lead, "A new reality show is pissing off ... LPA." They then wrote, "LPA claims the m-word on the show is just as offensive as 'guido' on Jersey Shore." I work hard to be somewhat entertaining when I speak and when I write, but I could never develop such a colorful analogy as TMZ suggests. Give them credit though for writing "The m-word."
The New York Post got into the act also, writing a story based upon a story published by AOL - who I sent the generic email. Like TMZ, the New York Post suggested LPA was "pissed off" at Spike.
I guess, if I wanted to eliminate any possibility of bringing more attention to the show, LPA shouldn't have said anything at all related to the show.