Groups Target 'Lone Ranger' for Branding Facial Flaws as Sign of Villainy
Disney, the studio behind the new Lone Ranger reboot, did all it could to head off protests by Native American groups over the presentation of the Tonto character. Disney empowered Tonto to be an equal partner with the titular hero and chose an actor (Johnny Depp) to play the part who claimed to have Native American blood.
The film is the target of a protest all the same, albeit one that has nothing to do with Depp's turn as our hero's faithful sidekick.
Groups representing people who have cleft palates say the film's disfigured villain, played by actor William Fichtner, is an insult to those who have similar facial flaws.
Esteban Lasso, executive director of Canadian-based "cleft care" charity Transforming Faces,said in a statement: "It's disheartening that a major motion picture would perpetuate this negative perception and we hope that in future, birth defects and facial differences will not be used to portray 'evil' characters."
Meanwhile, the UK's Cleft Lip and Palate Association (Clapa) called for a boycott of the film, saying: "Not only is this incredibly lazy storytelling, it's also sending a deeply harmful message that will impact the 90,000 people that were born with a cleft in the UK as well as others worldwide...