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I have to admit that I just don't understand America's fascination with midgets and monkeys.

Both are staples of comedy bits on TV from commercials to the Man Show. On the big screen Austin Power's Mini-Me became a cultural phenomenon not too far removed from Clyde in Any Which Way But Loose. (And yes, I know that Clyde, an orangutan which is a member of the ape family, is not actually a monkey. This is really a rant against dressing up primates in human clothing, so maybe I should have said "pygmies and primates" instead of "midgets and monkeys," but you get the general idea here.)

I believe that the reason that these two things are commonly considered humorous is because they are both (to different extents) miniature versions of the human form. Midgets are humans, small humans. Monkeys are hairy, small humanoids with tails. Notice that in both descriptions, the only common word is "small." That's right, to America, small equals fascinating. (Perhaps because we as a culture are now all so ridiculously large ourselves.)

Look at our obsession with iPods, Chihuahuas, cell phones, babies, and Tom Cruise. If a monkey reminds you of a small version of your office companions (which is exactly the point of a recent commercial for a internet job site), then you are likely to find the antics of the monkey funny as you project your office companions' activities and motivations onto the monkey's diminutive form. When Curious George falls into hijinks, we laugh. When Billy Bob Thornton gets into a shootout with Tony Cox in Bad Santa, we laugh. When Homer Simpson skips out on a robbery to watch the drive-in movie Hail to the Chimp, we laugh. (Though when Dunston Checks In comes on cable, we change the channel. We Americans are a fickle bunch.)

Perhaps it is because I don't much like people in the first place that I also don't much care for miniature versions of people. (Note to the Little People lobby: it's not that I'm a midget hater, I just don't find you particularly funny simply because you've got really stubby fingers.) I'm sure that I'm in the minority here, but I'm just damn tired of monkey jokes.

Oh, and happy thanksgiving. Can you guess what we talked about over our ham and potatoes this year? (That's right: a midget football league.)

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To be continued...


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