The evil-doer in the new 'Lone Ranger' movie is made to seem all the more evil because he has a cleft lip. Parents of, and advocacy groups for, kids with cleft lips say doing so fosters a stereotype and makes things harder for these children.
“There is no cinematic metaphor more hackneyed or shallow,” the Toronto Star quotes David Roche, a motivational speaker whose himself has facial deformations. “Time after time the facially disfigured are shown as barely human, driven insane by deformity and ready to retaliate with mutilations or murder.”
Parents of children with cleft lips and advocacy groups for them are urging movie-goers to boycott 'The Lone Ranger,' co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Disney has not responded to media questions about Butch Cavendish, William Fichtner's villain character who has the highly visible cleft lip in the film.
Rachel Mancuso in Wyoming, Mich. runs a website called cleftsmile.org and she said that since the film's release July 3 she's been getting inundated with emails from parents expressing their anger, up to 1,000 a day for the past week. “As a parent and educator, I’m having a hard time understanding why they had to create a bad guy and slap on the number one birth defect," she told the Star.
Many of those who advocate for children, and adults, with cleft lips say the problem is not characters with cleft lips on TV or in films, but rather the manner in which those with cleft lips are routinely portrayed as sinister and evil. Cleft lips are a part of life and they'd like to see more characters depicted with them - just not bad-guys.
Ironically, given that the film has come out this month, July has been named 'Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention' month in the United States.