Changing Faces, the UK’s leading disfigurement charity, launches the Face Equality on Film campaign last week, calling for fairer and more balanced portrayals of people with disfigurements in films.
A recent YouGov survey commissioned by the charity confirms there is a long way to go. It found that bad teeth, scars, burns and other conditions affecting appearance are seen to be the most common indicators of an evil or villainous character in a film. Men, ethnic minorities, bald people and disabled priorities are all seen to be portrayed in a more diverse way than those with disfigurements.
Undoubtedly, films have a very strong impact on public views and attitudes around disfigurement. Unless film portrayals become more balanced, children and adults with unusual features will continue to be marginalised, subject to harassments, bullying and less able to get suitable work.
James Partridge, CEO of Changing Faces, said: “We’re so used to seeing people with disfigurements portrayed as the villain in films that it is hard for everyone to imagine they could ever play someone’s friend, the Dad picking up his kids from school, the US President, or the lover.
In fact, the film industry has become so lazy in depicting evil and villainy that all they need to do is apply a scar or a prosthetic eye socket or remove a limb and every movie goer knows that it’s time to be suspicious, scared or repulsed.
The issue is that for people who actually do have scars from burn injuries, car accidents, attacks, or whose faces are asymmetrical as a result of cancer, strokes or birth conditions, the way that people react in the cinema spills over into the way they are treated in everyday life.
Freddie Kreuger, Elephant Man, Scarface, Cyclops are just some of the names that our clients get called at school, on the street and at work. They have to put up with people laughing at them, recoiling, running away or reacting with disbelief that they can and do live a ‘normal’ life.”
DDB UK have created the campaign which gets underway in Odeon cinemas nationwide this week with a short film called ‘Leo.’ Starring Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary in Downton Abbey) and Leo Gormley (Channel 4’s Beauty and the Beast: The Ugly Face of Prejudice), ‘Leo’ will highlight just how strongly and automatically audiences link scars and unusual faces with evil intent.
The charity is asking movie goers to join the campaign at www.facebook.com/changingfacesuk
calling for fair, truthful, everyday portrayals and an end to the harmful stigma and prejudice we currently see on screen.
Creative Director: Jeremy Craigen
Creative Team: Chris Lapham and Aaron McGurk
Account Director: Nick Owen
Director: Jim Weedon
TV Production: Bare Films