10 April 2017

Movie villain dermatology

As reported in JAMA Dermatology:
Dichotomous dermatologic depictions between heroes and villains date back to the silent film age and have been used to visually illustrate the contrasting morality between these character types. Classic dermatologic features of villainous characters include facial scars, alopecia, deep rhytides, periorbital hyperpigmentation, rhinophyma, verruca vulgaris, extensive tattoos, large facial nevi, poliosis, and albinism or gray-hued complexions. These visual cues evoke in the audience apprehension or fear of the unfamiliar and provide a perceptible parallel to the villainous character’s inward corruption...

These portrayals have ignited the formation of advocacy groups aimed at diminishing the perpetuation of existing discrimination by discouraging the use of degrading stereotypes in film. Notably, the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) has protested the portrayal of people with albinism as villains, although with limited success...
The all-time top 10 American film villains and heroes were obtained from the American Film Institute 100 Greatest Heroes and Villains List.
Six of the all-time top 10 American film villains (60%) have dermatologic findings, all of which are located on the face and scalp and are persistent in presentation. Dermatologic findings include cosmetically significant (Norwood-Hamilton stage ≥3) alopecia (30%), periorbital hyperpigmentation (30%), deep rhytides on the face (20%), multiple scars on the face (20%), verruca vulgaris on the face (20%), and rhinophyma (10%). Three of the villains (30%) have gray-hued complexions or unnatural skin color. Excluding cosmetically insignificant androgenic alopecia (Norwood-Hamilton stage ≤2), single facial scars, and transient lacerations or ecchymoses, none of the all-time top 10 American film heroes have significant dermatologic findings. All heroes have natural, non–gray-hued complexions. The top 10 villains have a higher incidence of significant dermatologic findings than the top 10 heroes (60% vs 0%; P = .03). Two villains (20%) and 2 heroes (20%) have red hair.
Detailed discussion at the link.   And a related article at The Guardian ("Disfigured heroes like Deadpool help people like me fight prejudice."

Rhytides clarified.

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