Fighting the stereotypes

Hollywood loves a bad guy, but it’s just a pity film-makers’ choice of on-screen baddies sometimes helps spread misconceptions.

One particular stereotype is that of the ‘evil albino’ – in fact, American organisation the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) found there were 68 films featuring this stereotype between 1960 and 2006.

Most familiar recent films include the Matrix Reloaded and The Da Vinci Code – both pretty popular movies. That so many people who saw these hit films may have got this damaging idea about people with albinism is pretty upsetting, worrying and downright annoying.

I feel strongly about this topic as both my daughters have the condition. The white hair due to lack of pigment means they have a distinctive appearance, but they are just as ‘normal’ as any other children.

My reason for taking part in Albinism Awareness Week (as per my previous blog) with my wife was to raise awareness of the condition and help the public understand more about this rare genetic condition.

The main message behind this year’s news release and campaign week was around ‘judge me for who, I am not my condition,’ which holds true for many human ailments, not just albinism.

It was, and is, a strong message, I believe, given the media’s fixation with physical appearance and image that often completely overrides other human qualities.

This may be too surreal an analogy for some readers but since I’ve mentioned Hollywood, I’m going to continue with the theme – bear with me. Some years ago, Johnny Depp starred in the film ‘Edward Scissorhands’ about a loveable misfit with, shall we say, unusual hands!

While many came to love him, enjoy his company and understand what this peaceful character was all about, some in his fictional village were all too quick to condemn Edward. And a large reason for this was his distinctive appearance, which made them feel uncomfortable.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we took a bit of time to look behind the surface rather than rush to make quick judgments based on what we first see?







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