The British Film Institute has allied with the #IAmNotYourVillain campaign, declaring that it will no longer support movies with scarred villains. Facial scars have become something of a shorthand for villainy in movies - from Freddy Krueger to Heath Ledger's Joker to The Lion King's Scar - but UK charity Changing Faces has been endeavoring to beat the stigma of visible scars and their negative associations in the film industry.
Changing Faces was founded by Dr. James Partridge in 1992, and provides support for children and adults who have observable differences to their faces, hands, and body that cause them to suffer social stigma discrimination. The charity has argued that facial scars being used to signify that characters in movies are evil have contributed to the negative perception of real people with similar scars. The "I Am Not Your Villain" campaign was launched earlier this month, with Changing Faces and the BFI urging those in the film industry to ditch the trope of the scarred villain. In a statement,
Some have decried the decision, saying that the BFI's condemnation of villains with facial scars in movies suppresses creativity. Others, however, have argued that there's nothing particularly creative about a villain with a scarred face, given that it's one of the oldest and most persistent tropes around, and avoiding it actually forces filmmakers to get more creative with their character design. In any case, the BFI has always exercised discretion when allocating its limited funding for films, and with 1.3 million people in the UK having some kind of visible difference, the organization may have a point about the film industry's responsibility to stop reinforcing stigmas about facial scarring.