Heath Ledger’s Joker, Jigsaw from Saw, Dominic West in Punisher: Warzone, Scar from the Lion King, Le Chiffre and Blofeld from Bond, Darth Vader from Star Wars, Freddy Kruger from Nightmare on Elm Street all villains who would now disqualify their movies from BFI funding as part of a campaign to remove the stigma around disfigurement.
As part of a campaign by UK charity Changing Faces, who are working to end discrimination against people with visible differences, the British Film Institute has lent their backing to their I Am Not Your Villain initiative. A campaign designed to end the use of “scars, burns or marks as shorthand for villainy".
BFI’s deputy CEO Ben Roberts said: “Film is a catalyst for change and that is why we are committing to not having negative representations depicted through scars or facial difference in the films we fund”.
“This campaign speaks directly to the criteria in the BFI diversity standards, which call for meaningful representations on screen. We fully support Changing Faces’s #IAmNotYourVillain campaign, and urge the rest of the film industry to do the same.”
Changing faces have been very vocal about the notion of cinema shaping public perception, particular in children. Their main point is that nobody is born associating physical deformities with being evil, and these opinions are actually formed through things like cinema.
Instead the BFI will prioritise movies where any antagonists are presented more complexly that merely having a facial disfigurement. Phyllida Swift, a campaigns manager for Changing Faces, cited Harry Potter as one of the main films were that presented a positive depiction of facial scarring.