The Johnny Depp western The Lone Ranger has attracted ire from disability campaigners over its addition of a prosthetic cleft lip to actor William Fichtner’s face, to enhance the “evil” qualities of his outlaw killer character Butch Cavendish. The official character synopsis reads: “Meet Butch Cavendish. A ruthless outlaw whose terribly scarred face is a perfect reflection of the bottomless pit that passes for his soul.”
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 … A congenital abnormality is not something to be made fun of, a cleft lip does not add to the ‘look’ of a villain, a character like this will not help the public’s perception or understanding of cleft.”
The Lone Ranger is released in UK cinemas on 9 August.