Thank you for this. When I saw there was Yet Another Bond Movie out, I was
wondering whether there would be any improvement in how it depicts women,
or people with disabilities or disfigurement.
Other related pet peeves for me:
1. Physical or mobility impairments used to symbolize a "broken spirit"
(ie, with the idea that "broken" body = "broken" spirit). There was one
book I read in which a girl becomes mobility impaired at the same time as
she becomes "broken" in spirit and then is abruptly cured of her
impairment simultaneously with receovering her spirit. Not exactly an
original idea, but usually it isn't done in such a glaringly obvious
manner. Made me want to throw the book across the room.
2. Deaf characters introduced, not as three-dimensional people in their
own right with their own desires and aspirations, but so their difficulty
understanding others can be used for comedic fodder. I remember I was a
little girl the first time that I ever met me in a book--i.e., met a
little girl character who was deaf. And how thrilled I was to finally see
someone just like me in a book ... almost like discovering that I was a
real person after all, because it WAS possible to see me reflected in the
fiction I read. And I remember how betrayed I felt when I realized that
the girl was just there so the other characters--and hearing
readers--could laugh at her difficulty with lipreading.
3. Superhero characters whose super power just "coincidentally" and oh so
conveniently happens to effectively cancel out most of the effects of
their disability, usually leaving me to wonder what on earth the point was
of bothering with either the disability or the super power. (Yes, Dare
Devil, I'm looking at YOU. But that character isn't alone or I might not
have put this on the list.)
-- Closely related peeve: Disabled superhero whose superpower is
meant to be "ironic" when considered in the context of their
disability, such as a blind person who can "see" the future, or a
person unable to move their own body but who can move objects via
the power of their mind.
4. Any character with a disability who is depicted as being basically
unable to change and grow. But whose mere presence can be such an
"inspirational" (bleh!) catalyst to the change and growth of the "real"
people around them (ie, the non-disabled people). News flash to authors
and film makers: if you're a person, you can change and grow. Only
inanimate objects don't change or grow. And even that rule is not
5. Mobility impairment used to symbolize impotence, or lack of virility or
lack of "real" masculinity for men. The cure of which just happens to
coincide with the sudden acquisition of traits usually stereotypically
defined as "masculine". And, possibly, also coinciding with the sudden
acquisition of weapons. Of a certain shape. That suggest symbolization
of, er ... OTHER things. Usually in the approximate size of "big". As if
"real men" cannot be disabled, or vice versa.
6. Any disability used to reinforce the appearance of a female character
as inherently weak, helpless, pathetic, dependent and (usually) childlike.
And probably also blond, young, and very pretty. Which is supposed to
make their oh so heartbreaking vulnerability and the suffering they
experience all the more tragic. As if it would be perfectly all right for
a person to suffer as long as they're ugly. That's all right then, it's
not a tragedy that this person has lost everything they've ever cared
about because this person is ugly, so who cares about them. Feh!
Thanks for raising this,
> News <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/>
> Victoria Wright <http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/victoria-wright>
> Monday 5 November 2012
> Why do Bond villains need facial scars?
> It's time that filmmakers learnt they don't have to disfigure a
> character to show he's evil. A bad haircut works just as well
> 1 / 1
> Javier Bardem in Skyfall
> Sony Pictures Releasing
> A note of warning: the following article contains film spoilers and
> moments of political correctness that some people may find annoying. I
> went to see Skyfall, excited at the prospect of a Bond film with a
> decent plot, thrilling action sequences, feisty Bond girls, and shots of
> Daniel Craig with his top off. Skyfall has one other classic Bond
> element to it, one that I'd hoped they'd grown out of: the disfigured
> Bond villain.
> I'm referring to the scene where Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem,
> suddenly removes his dental face implant to reveal a disfigured mouth
> and missing teeth. It's implied that although Silva was always a bit
> dodgy, it took a facial disfigurement to make him a power-crazed wrong
> 'un. It's shocking in its visual unpleasantness and unexpectedness,
> which was obviously the filmmaker's intention.
> I watched in the cinema with my husband, and half-joked, "I want the
> name of his dentist!" (I'm on the NHS waiting list for dental implants.
> Things are so bad I'm starting to covet my baby daughter's milk teeth.)
> But the truth is the scene made me feel a little uncomfortable.
> As anyone interested in the representation of disability and
> disfigurement in the cinema knows, facial disfigurement is often used to
> represent a character's inner evil. Take the Batman films. Harvey Dent
> starts off in The Dark Knight as an honest, decent lawyer defending the
> rights of the good people of Gotham City. After half his face becomes
> disfigured in an attack, he turns into the murderous Two-Face. God
> forbid anything bad should ever happen to Shami Chakrabarti.
> In the James Bond franchise, there is most famously Blofeld, played by
> Donald Pleasence in 1967's You Only Live Twice. Blofeld had a long
> facial scar to signify his villainy, which was a bit pointless. A grown
> man who conducts his business with a cat on his lap clearly has issues.
> In 1995's Golden Eye, Sean Bean played a double-crossing and facially
> scarred secret agent. Le Chiffre in 2006's Casino Royale had a scarred
> and bleeding left eye. Jaws in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979's
> Moonraker, had his, erm, jaws. Zao in 2002's Die Another Day had
> diamonds embedded in his face caused by an exploding briefcase. That
> film left me with a permanent fear of popping into H Samuel. The last
> thing I want is a load of exploding cubic zirconia embedded in my chin.
> It's disappointing that Skyfall, acclaimed for (slightly) improving the
> sexist portrayal of women, is still using facial disfigurement to
> provoke revulsion and promote the stereotype that disfigurement makes a
> person morally abnormal. It's lazy film-making and, particularly within
> the Bond franchise itself, unoriginal. Javier Bardem played a genuinely
> terrifying villain in No Country for Old Men without the need to resort
> to a facial disfigurement. He just used a cold, hard stare and bad, bad
> hair. Surely, the time has come for film-makers to recognise that you
> don't need to give a villain a disfigurement to show he's bad? A dodgy,
> pudding-bowl haircut will do just fine.
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> communications disclaimer: http://lse.ac.uk/emailDisclaimer
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