Shrek (2001)
Commentary by Jesse Fornash, November 2002

Shrek is a story about a big, jolly, green ogre, named Shrek, who likes his privacy. He prefers to be alone and doesn't mind having no friends. People have tried to attack and capture him at times (which is shown through the movie) but because of his enormous strength, no one has even come close to succeeding.

As the story opens, Shrek meets a lovable but annoying donkey named, well, Donkey. Shrek can't stand him at first but soon befriends him. One day, Shrek wakes up and sees many mysterious fairy tale animals roaming outside of his home. He learns that they are there because a powerful ruler, named Lord Farquaad, has banished them from his kingdom. With no where else to go, they settle in Shrek's swamp. Shrek, liking his privacy, decides to pay Lord Farquaad a visit and takes his new friend Donkey with him. We finally get to see what the almighty Lord Farquaad looks like and to everyone's surprise, he is a pretty short dude! Considering his stature, one has to wonder how a person his size was able to become ruler of a kingdom. Perhaps he inherited it. Lord Farquaad desires to become king but to do so, he must marry a princess. He chooses to marry a beautiful princess who is being held captive in a huge tower, guarded by a huge fire-breathing dragon.

On the day that Shrek and Donkey arrive at Farquaad's kingdom, there is a tournament to determine a champion among Farquaad's men. The winner gets to rescue his future bride. Shrek shows up, demanding that Farquaad return his swamp but Farquaad orders his men to attack Shrek. All of the guards are no match for the big, bad Shrek and even though he is outnumbered, he easily defeats everyone of them as if he was swatting away at pesky flies. The crowd at first boos Shrek but then cheers him on as he's finishing the job. Lord Farquaad also jumps on the bandwagon and, seeing how big and powerful Shrek is, selects him as the champion. Shrek will become the lucky one who will go on the dangerous mission to rescue the captured princess. In return, Farquaad promises Shrek that if he succeeds, he will get his swamp back exactly the way it was before the fairy tale animals showed up.

Shrek accepts the challenge and he and Donkey embark on the dangerous mission. He is able to rescue the princess and she asks Shrek what Farquaad is like. Shrek and Donkey tell her the truth and it's not good! They tell her that "men like him are in very short supply" and that "most people tend to think very little of him". The princess doesn't understand what they're talking about and during this time she makes a comment on how their mission didn't quite measure up to expectations. Another comment about Farquaad's stature is made and Shrek says to the princess "Oh don't worry. After you two get married you'll both have plenty time to do the measuring". The princess still doesn't get it but in two days she will finally meet her future groom.

When she first sees him, she can't tell that he's short because he has long metal legs that hangs over the sides of the horse he's riding. Then, he dismounts and removes the metal legs. To the surprise of the princess, he is a pretty short man! Her reaction is somewhat of disgust but she accepts him because she has no one else to marry. It looks pretty bad. The princess towers over Farquaad like Shaquille O'Neal towers over Muggsy Bogues.

The princess ponders her marriage while looking at her wedding cake. On the top are two plastic figures, the princess and Farquaad. Farquaad's figure is slightly taller. With sadness in her eyes, she pushes Farquaad's figure down into the cake until he is much shorter than her, just like in real life. Later, Shrek invades the wedding and tells the princess how he feels about her. She decides to marry him over Farquaad and the two live happily ever after. You can't help but wonder if Shrek's size over Farquaad's might have had anything to do with her decision.

The way that height was used in this movie may have seemed to be funny to most people, but it was really sad and embarrassing. This movie was intended mostly for kids and we all know how much teasing short kids go through in school due to their height. Shrek will no doubt influence young kids that being short is bad and that if someone is short, you have every reason to pick on them for who they are. And on the flip side, if someone is ugly, it's not cool to pick on him, especially if he is a big, bad, tough dude who can take on anyone, as Shrek did.

The other way height was used was to make fun of short men who often have little or no romantic lives. The princess ended up marrying Shrek over Lord Farquaad and you can't help but wonder how much height had to do with that. In real life, many short, good looking guys are not able to get dates because of their stature and have to watch taller guys, who may not be nearly as good looking, getting all the dates they wish. While this is very realistic, it's sad that Hollywood has to portray short people as being the types of people who just can't be accepted into society. Even though the short guy being derided was a villain, there was simply no excuse for the way this movie had to mock typical short men.

This movie can only serve to derail any attempts at self-esteem that short people may have been able to make for themselves. I just hope that one day short people can be treated as equally as tall people. If people, who may appear to be ugly, can be treated as fairly as people who are not, why can't short people be treated as equals too? It just is not cool to see short people being made fun of like this and until the media learns not to pick on short people, they will continue to be made to feel inferior to those of greater stature.