Australian pub faces backlash after advertising 'Wolf of Wall Street'-themed 'midget tossing' event

An Australian pub has apologized after it received a slew of criticism for its plans to host a "free midget tossing" event.

The Great Northern Hotel, a bar and restaurant in Newcastle, Australia, advertised the activity as part of an event inspired by the 2013 film "The Wolf of Wall Street."

At one point in the movie, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie, finance executives are seen tossing men with dwarfism at a large, velcro bullseye. The scene drew outrage from organizations at the time, including the Little People of America, which criticized the decision in a 2014 open letter.

The Great Northern brought that controversy back to the surface. The pub advertised its "midget-tossing" game in both a promotional video and a poster for the event, which was planned for Sept. 21.

"If that won't keep you on your toes the whole night, sign up for our FREE MIDGET-TOSSING!!" one advertisement said.

"Hit the target and receive a FREE DRINK!!" the poster for the event read.

The advertisements received negative feedback from many social media users, after which the pub took down the video and removed all reference of the game from its promotions.

Management also issued an apology for the decision, emphasizing that the bar never intended to use an actual person for the game, but planned on using a doll instead. 

"We are extremely sorry for any offense or reference to our Wolf of Watt St. event, with tossing of any people. We had no intention of doing so and this was a misguided comment, in reference to the film," the Great Northern told Australia's ABC in a statement

The event will still take place on the scheduled date, albeit without the controversial game. But that doesn't mean the outrage has died down: Alicia Jenkins, a former Paralympian who has also served as the national secretary for the Short Statured People of Australia, told ABC she was beyond shocked to hear about the advertisement. 

"I was probably more than gobsmacked. It is horrifying, it is gut-wrenching, and I suppose my disappointment and my disgust is really hard to put into words," she said.

Jenkins added that the event was offensive regardless of even if the bar never planned to use actual people. 

"Whether there [are real people] or not, the fact that they are using the word midget and [they say], 'hit the mark and you get free drinks' ... it just can't happen," she said.

Sam Millard, the current president of the Short Statured People of Australia said events like this can have "real world consequences."

"We know that in the past unfortunately after events like this there have been people in the community that have been picked up and thrown in local bars and have been injured significantly," Millard told ABC. 

Gareth Ward, a regional leader for Australia's Communities and Disability Services, agreed with Millard's disavowal. Ward told ABC that the event is not representative of the country's values. 

"Australia is an inclusive country. We believe in giving everyone a fair go and that includes people with disabilities. We want to be an inclusive community," he said. "But when you use scorn and ridicule, even in a way that you don't believe is offensive, it shows a fairly significant lack of empathy, which I think should be urgently reviewed."

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