Disney’s summer blockbuster The Lone Ranger has faced criticism for…
Nonsensical plot? Embarrassingly bad performances? Losing money hand over fist?
… its portrayal of Butch Cavendish, the film’s villain, with a prosthetic cleft lip.
Although there have been many portrayals of the character on screen, Disney is the first studio to present him as facially disfigured. Disney describes the character, who is played by William Fichtner, as “a ruthless outlaw whose terribly scarred face is a perfect reflection of the bottomless pit that passes for his soul.”
Disney’s association of a cleft lip with Cavendish’s evil persona is sparking criticism from support groups and parents of children with cleft lips, who are accusing the studio of perpetuating ignorance about the condition.
Esteban Lasso, executive director of charity Transforming Faces, said in a statement: “It’s disheartening that a major motion picture would perpetuate this negative perception and we hope that in future, birth defects and facial differences will not be used to portray ‘evil’ characters.”
So I guess pirates will no longer have eye patches? Or peg legs?
‘Casino Royale’ will have to be re-edited – can’t have Le Chiffre weeping blood, can we?
All those German officers with duelling scars in WWII movies, they’re out!
Andrew Lloyd Webber can just take his ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and leave.
And as for the character Ralph Fiennes plays in ‘Red Dragon’, well, let’s just draw a veil over that one…
A statement on the website of Clapa, the Cleft Lip and Palate Association, was also dismissive of Disney’s characterisation, saying the studio are “once again cashing in on prejudice” by using the prosthetic cleft lip.
The group accused Disney of “incredibly lazy storytelling”, and claimed the film showed that awareness of the congenital condition “is still a serious problem“.
And of course they can always find an English stooge, can’t they?
Fiona Sanders-Hewett, from Cambridgeshire, has a 3-year-old son with a cleft lip and said Disney’s portrayal is worrying.
She said: “As a parent it is your worst nightmare that your child will be bullied. Disney are drawing undue attention to the condition”.
And all those heart-rending adverts in magazines for the charity that raises money for Third World victims of cleft palate? Are you going to start in on those, or just Disney?
Mrs Sanders-Hewett added that the use of prosthesis “seems very wrong”.
She said: “It would be lovely if they had cast an actor who had a cleft lip and played a good character, but the fact that it is the result of stage make-up belittles what children with the condition go through.”