Why Verne Troyer’s Death Hits Close To Home
Late last month, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and stumbled upon a breaking news story that touched my heart with overwhelming sadness. On Saturday, April 21st, Verne Troyer passed away at 49 years old. The cause of his death is still under investigation but has been linked to a possible suicide. Troyer was admitted to the hospital after calling the police to report feelings of depression as well as suicidal thoughts. It had been determined at the time that there were extremely high levels of alcohol present in his system. Eventually, he was placed on life support which was later pulled due to severe organ failure.
Many remember Troyer for his role as Mini-Me in the film franchise, Austin Powers. However, most do not realize just how problematic this character truly is. I found myself conflicted as an individual living with a rare form of Dwarfism. I enjoyed watching these movies but felt ashamed of the way that they portray Little People: childish and unintelligent. Although I knew in my heart that this representation was for the sake of comedy, it unfortunately came with the humiliation of someone shouting “Mini-Me!” at me from across a crowded hallway at school.
“Verne was an extremely caring individual. He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh.”
It is no secret that the creation of characters like Mini-Me have had a negative impact on members of the LP community. However, in spite of that, I can understand what may have influenced Troyer’s decision to take on this type of role. In a statement made after his passing, Troyer was described as someone who would help anyone in need. It was said that he would go to great lengths just to bring joy to the lives of others. To play such a character must have meant that Troyer had an amazing sense of humor. It must have meant that he chose to poke fun at the stereotypes rather than spend every waking moment dwelling on them. This carefree outlook on life is very similar to my own.
I have always been a firm believer in the power of learning to laugh at yourself. If I have any talent at all, it would be the ability to take a tough circumstance and turn it into something comical. I think that if I chose to be offended by every little thing that is said about me, and others like myself, I would be an incredibly unhappy human being. A sense of humor has played a major part in helping me cope with my disability and is admittedly one of the reasons why I am still here today.
“Over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much.”
Although I certainly did not know Troyer on a personal level, I do know the challenges that come with living in a world that isn’t made for me. I would never pretend to understand every single battle that he fought throughout his lifetime. However, I do understand that on some days, having a sense of humor is not enough. I understand that hiding behind it can be easy, but incredibly exhausting as well. I have often wondered if there will ever come a time when I find myself in Troyer’s shoes. Will the frustration from struggling over and over again ever become too much for me?