Monday, January 18, 2010

The Little Generalization

Whenever a short man does anything someone else dislikes, he is accused of having a Napoleon complex. Stubby landlord wants you to pay on time? It's because he's not 6' 1". Diminutive brother-in-law looks out for his sister? Clearly a French History major. And if either guy denies having a Napoleon complex, it's a textbook case of the Napoleon complex.

Let's clear this up: Napoléon Bonaparte was 5' 6.5", which was average for his time. So the alleged relationship between NP's actions and stature is undersized at best.

More importantly, why is Napoléon the only historical figure with a pop-psychology term named after him? Tubby drunks aren't told they have Yeltsin Disorder. Asians who don't brush aren't diagnosed with Mao Syndrome (boozed up, non-brushing fatsos have yet to produce an icon).

For the record, those whose actions actually resemble Napoléon's are typically tall. The average American CEO is 6' 0". American politicians too tend to be above average in height. Yet no one says, "Due to a lifetime of standing above their peers, these men develop a bullying nature that continues into adulthood."

No, they're just thought of as pricks.

But just imagine if Danny DeVito laid off 4,000 people: "AWWWW, AWWWW, he's just mad 'cause God downsized HIM!!!!! Know what I'm sayin'!? [High fives en masse.]

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