July 21, 2003
Half-kidding plot-outline, July 21st

Deputy Liberal leader Sandra Pupatello's Windsor riding is up in arms about dwarf-tossing in their hood which they feel is 'setting us back generations'. I don't know anything about this, and I agree that dwarves who whore themselves out in the tossing-trade may not be doing their best to de-stigmatize their peeps, but let's be clear: this isn't the real issue. Nor is it anything about being in harm's way. We let athletes provide enough successive concussions to render each other unconscious in boxing rings; let people take corners at 200 miles an hour-- again, for the sake of spectacle-- and we expect on occasion to watch people die doing this. Whether they die on the job or not, we admire their bravery and panache. So, if anything, this is really about our own discomfort with a visible minority being thrown about in public. It's about the legitimacy of our right to question their willing participant-status. Anyone who seriously asks 'but what if he likes it?' probably beats his wife, the thinking goes, and I generally agree.

But what about this analogy: the stuntman. On some level, both are nothing more than calculated risk-takers, no? I would bet a lot of adrenaline-loving dwarves could jump out of an exploding helicopter and parachute into a glacier or whatever stunt was necessary on that day, if only more leading-men were open and honest about how tall they were. As it is, stuntmen are generally well-built men of the six-foot variety, and no one ever accuses them of disgracing anyone when they risk life and limb for some sack of shit, sucky-sucky shit-suck action movie. No, they're brave men, manly as mountain-climbers, and if dwarves want any part of that action, they're basically hooped.

In order to say anything about this, I actually felt I had to do research. Like make some phone calls and go to Windsor, so I could see firsthand what all the fuss is about. How far are they thrown?; how are they 'padded'?; how much do they make?; what happens if/when they are seriously hurt?; how often are they seriously hurt?; can they be insured?; what does it sound like when they land-- no, not just the sound of the landing itself, but the sound of the crowd-- what does the crowd sound like? I'd like to know.

Then I read this whole event in Windsor was the brainchild of a bunch of guys operating a strip joint, and my research felt superfluous. There's no insurance, and the sound of the crowd is probably more menacing than I care to think about. Yet weirdly, I'm thinking about it. I'm looking for meaning in it. Am I being callous here? Wouldn't this be a good tv movie? No one would care to watch it, and therefore no one would care to fund it, until you think of setting it in a strip club. Then I think it might be possible, and a good idea even. Stir up some debate here. I want to know what's at issue. There's something so goddamn poignant in the life of a little person that I didn't feel in the Austin Powers movies or Willow, or Time Bandits or David Lynch or Living in Oblivion. I might have seen it in Diane Arbus photos, felt hints of it in a Harmony Korine scene or two, or that U2/Wim Wenders circus-rock video was pretty ok at the time... but to my knowledge, Dwarf Tossing hasn't yet received the artistic treatment it deserves.

I did see somewhere recently, in my online travels, that someone has just made a movie on the subject, and it looked stupid. I'd find it again, but I can't be bothered-- you'll have to trust me. And I wondered: How come this film about the ritualized beatings of minorities looks so dumb? Isn't that interesting subject-matter? And then I thought: don't you just hate people who can't stop thinking of everything as subject-matter? Don't you want to punch these subject-matter-scavengers in the face? (I do; it's the subject of a screenplay I'm working on.)

And what about Our Guy, eh? What about Tripod? Working in a strip-joint. Agreeing to get tossed for a meagre price - there'd have to be solid reasons for his financial motivation. Buddies with his stripper co-workers. Those friendships are all gold. His relationship with the customers, stellar. I think there's something there. Some romance, perhaps, some love that's requited. His friends are his family, his parents are dead, maybe his less-adventurous dwarf-brother is looking for more sensible work, something simple like that. The way we handle the tossing scenes is pure Raging Bull, of course. Our stuntman will be a dwarf, and we'll illustrate the whole above-point, paying him a real wage and insuring him up the ying-yang. And hopefully he won't die that day.

I'm sorry to keep thinking of it: a man's body hurtling through the air, sensitive respiratory system in tow, all bundled up, a little man flying a great distance, a bone-breaking distance, from the arms of some muscular fat-man, flying with real velocity, with shitloads of adrenaline, with fear, and with the certain knowledge of impending pain: are you gonna tell me there isn't skill in making that landing? Or that, in spite of the local yahoos who are laughing at-and-not-with him, in spite of whatever he thinks of them, of the various tossers, and commentators (there has to be a couple of those, doesn't there?) and all the peters from the joint who've come out to watch, are you gonna tell me there isn't a measure of pride in knowing it's a career with a pay-cheque and work-friends? That it isn't, ultimately - as they say - a living?

Maybe you'd say 'sure, for your kid, but not for mine', and you'd have me, but that's it, that why there's drama there, no? And it feels right. Champion the death-defying stunt, jackass-up the Western World with extreme sports and nasty details, and why not already with the dwarves as well?

All aboard!

Posted by at July 21, 2003 09:21 PM

Hells yeah. But he dies on account of an overlong toss (out the window). He must watch the resultant national scandal from the point of view of a ghost - he visits his stripper friends, but all he can do is scare them. He's not angry about his death, not at all - so why can't he get to heaven?

OK I know my B-magic fantasy nonsense isn't welcome here. Couldn't help myself. Maybe it was the Wim Wenders reference.

Posted by: D on July 22, 2003 12:45 AM .

What chew talking about Mr. D? Your B-magic fantasy nonsense is completely welcome here! That's a brilliant ending, methinks.

Put yer feet up and make yerself at home, kind sir.

Posted by: on July 22, 2003 12:04 PM .

Has anyone seen the station agent?

I'm thinking it looks pretty good.

Posted by: on February 11, 2004 06:41 PM .
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