James Bond criticised for ‘outdated’ and ‘old fashioned’ portrayal of villains

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The latest Bond film, No Time To Die, finally opens in cinemas this week after being delayed three times due to the pandemic. Daniel Craig’s fifth and final Bond instalment also stars Rami Malek as a villain with visible scarring and facial disfigurements.

Campaigners from charity Changing Faces have urged producers to stop only portraying villains with deformities.

In an open letter to producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, campaigners said: “As a group of volunteer campaigners with disfigurements and visible differences, the release of No Time To Die fills us with dread.

“Once again, the villains are marked out by the scars on their faces, a physical disfigurement, an impairment. It’s a trope, it’s old fashioned and it’s outdated. And it has an impact.

“So, for the next Bond movie, let’s have a character – the hero, the strong side kick or intelligent love interest, who also happens to have a visible difference. Because we are not just your villains.”

The letter said only one in five people with a visible difference have seen a character who looks like them cast as the hero in a film or on TV. However, nearly double have seen someone with a visible difference cast as the villain.

Changing Faces’ deputy CEO, Catherine Deakin, added: “Living life with a disfigurement can be tough, with people reporting a daily grind of staring, comments and even abuse, just because of how they look.

“When you have a visible difference, you are unlikely to see yourself represented in popular culture.

“It’s important we all see more diverse and inclusive images and representations of people, including those who have visible differences.”

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Actor Adam Pearson, star of 2013 film Under the Skin, has also hit out at the on-screen depiction. He said: “When the only character with a scar or disfigurement is shown on screen as the villain, it is perpetuating the use of an old-fashioned and outdated trope.

“There is absolutely no reason why someone with a visible difference can’t play the love interest or the hero.”

‘No Time To Die’ premieres tonight in London and hits cinemas on Thursday.

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