Monday, December 23, 2013

Hunchbacks in Pop Culture – Our Favorite Back Health Sufferers

Traditionally in society, the presence of a hunched-over back is a sign of bad health, or even alienation from the rest of the population. Cartoons used the condition as a way to show true character, live-action films offered it to create fear, and ever since, viewers have looked down upon those with irregular backs. However, bad rap aside, hunchbacks have grown into one of pop culture’s most-loved characters. Whether they had to overcome a stereotype or learn to accept themselves – abnormal features and all – here are some of our favorite spinally challenged roles.

The Beast

A title character from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” this character comes with a curved back, among other ailments (such as claws, more fur than he knows what to do with, etc.). Though the “hunch” likely comes from his transformation into an animal-like being, it’s a feature that comes to define his character, and which is ultimately overcome.

Lumpy Addams

Unfortunate name aside, Lump Addams, a cousin to the Addams family, is a key player in the series. He is the brother of fan favorite Cousin Itt, and child of Anemia and That. Though he rarely speaks, Lumpy makes appearances in both the 1991 and 1993 movie versions of the franchise.


Perhaps pop culture’s most famous hunchback, Quasimodo of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” starts the film as a kind, unloved character. Though he’s regularly told his condition is a point of shame, he and others grow to accept his differences, realizing that his loving nature more than makes up for any physical changes.


A main player in the Hindu epic, Ramayana, Manthara works as a loyal servant. In this story, however, her condition is likely a direct reflection of personality, as she uses cunning conversation and eavesdropping to alter events. The behavior eventually catches up with her, when she is nearly killed by those who she wronged – though many readers still admire her ability to overturn the main storyline’s events.

Through stories and portrayals, hunchbacks have long since been a staple in pop culture. And though the condition continues to affect the human population, hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the illness is considered a virtue of character – rather than a medium on which to condemn.