(WTVO) — A UK-based charity that represents people with disfigurement is asking streaming services this Halloween to add a disclaimer to horror films that feature villains with scars, marks, or burns.
According to Variety, Charity Changing Faces CEO Heather Blake sent a letter to Netflix UK, Amazon Prime Video, BBC IPlayer and Apple TV, saying, “Every year, Halloween becomes a particularly stressful time for some of those with visible differences, where villainous film characters with scars, marks, burns or conditions are often recreated as costumes, as well as becoming terms of abuse in everyday life.”
Blake asked that the streaming services add a disclaimer saying that such characters “reinforce negative stereotypes.”
The organization gave an example of one of its campaigners, named Chris, who was born with a large birthmark on his face and “has been impacted” by films such as “The Omen,” in which the character of Damien is identified as the Antichrist because of a birthmark on his scalp.
“Horror films such as ‘The Omen’ undoubtedly reinforce associations between visible differences and wrongdoing or tragic unfulfillment,” Chris said. “Similarly, other Changing Faces campaigners and ambassadors have reported being mockingly compared to characters such as Joker or Freddy Krueger.”
The charity’s “I Am Not Your Villain” campaign has been endorsed by the British Film Institute, which says it will no longer fund films that portray characters with scars or disfigurement with negative characteristics.
“Film has such a powerful influence on society, it enables us to see the world in new ways, enriches lives and can make a vital contribution to our wellbeing. It also is a catalyst for change and that is why we are committing to not having negative representations depicted through scars or facial difference in the films we fund,” BFI’s Film Fund Director Ben Roberts, said in a statement. “It’s astonishing to think that films have used visible difference as a shorthand for villainy so often and for so long. The time has come for this to stop.”