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article imageAnimation movie criticized for ‘poking fun’ at leprosy

By Tim Sandle     Jan 16, 2012 in Entertainment
A film trailer for animated adventure “The Pirates! Adventures with Scientists” has received complaints due to the film appearing to make a joke about people suffering from leprosy.
The BBC reports that the film “The Pirates! Adventures with Scientists”, produced by the studio Aardman Animation, has been criticized by the leprosy charity Lepra Health in Action for making a joke about the disease. The movie is an animated adventure (what is sometimes called “claymation”, involving stop-motion photography) and features the voices of film stars such as Hugh Grant, who plays a captain. Other cast members include Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen. The movie is based on the books by Gideon Defoe's
While the film has yet to be released, trailers for the movie have appeared at movie theatres and on-line. The charity has objected to a scene in the film when an arm falls off a crew member on a "leper-boat".
According to The Independent, Lepra Action have written to Aardman Animation about the scene and state: “in an instant reinforces the misconceptions which leads to stigma and discrimination that prevents people from coming forward for treatment Would Aardman poke fun at other illnesses and disabilities?”
As reported via Entertainment Online, Aardman have said that they will seriously look into the incident but as yet they have made no commitment to remove the offending scene from the trailer or from the movie when it is released in March 2012.
Aardman Animation is best known for making the successful “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run” animated adventures. The company is UK based and was founded in 1972. The studios greatest successes have come with the “Wallace and Gromit” films “The Wrong Trousers” (1993) and “A Close Shave (1995)”, both of which won Academy Awards (for ‘Best Animated Short Film’).
Lepra Action is a UK based charity, formed in 1924. Its primary work is to educate young people, through its schools program, about leprosy. The World Health Organization states that leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. For those affected it is a painful condition. Although the disease can be treated if sufferers are not treated quickly they can be left deformed and crippled. Leprosy is common in many countries worldwide, and in temperate, tropical, and subtropical climates. About 100 cases per year are diagnosed in the United States.
Given the continued prevalence of leprosy and the stigma which the condition can attract it is surprising that the film studio did not consider the impact that few lines of dialogue and the dismembered arm would have.
More about Animation, Leprosy, Wallace and Gromit, world health, World health organization
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