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Author Topic: "Evil Albinos": Negative media representations
Michelle
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posted 19 July 2006 11:21 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This is rather interesting. I read a blurb in the latest Harper's Magazine about this, so I checked out The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation. Apparently the "evil Albino" is a staple in movies. I hadn't really thought about it before now, but come to think of it, I've read at least two or three books where the "evil Albino" villain is used as a plot device.

quote:
According to a list compiled by UCSF dermatologist Dr. Vail Reese, for his website www.skinema.com, 12 motion pictures released in the 1980s featured an evil albino, 20 did so in the 1990s, and 24 after 2000. In 2004 the only person with albinism in a notable film released in the United States was Noi, the hapless adolescent in the Icelandic film, 'Noi Albinoi.'

NOAH is concerned that fictional novels and movies depict people with albinism so inaccurately that the fiction overwhelms reality. "One huge problem with 'The Da Vinci Code' is how Silas is described with red eyes," McGowan said. " That's a myth. Most often in people with albinism the eyes are light blue or even hazel." Though their eyes are a normal color, many with albinism have impaired vision. McGowan points out that it is ironic that movies dating back to 'The Firm,' and 'Lethal Weapon,' have made people with albinism into sharpshooters. NOAH argues that the evil albino is a hackneyed plot device used repeatedly by filmmakers depicting people with albinism as being only wicked . NOAH believes that the absence of positive albino characters in motion pictures contributes to misinformation about the condition and stereotyping and discrimination against people with albinism.



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oldgoat
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posted 19 July 2006 12:21 PM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You know I've noticed that. There was even a Deep Space Nine episode that featured a sociopathic albino Klingon.
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Michelle
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posted 19 July 2006 12:24 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, I was just reading about that on this interesting web page. I found it by googling "Edgar Winter Albino".
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Pearson
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posted 21 July 2006 11:43 AM      Profile for Pearson        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There is the Elric series of books though by Michael Moorcock, in which the hero/protagonist is an albino.

I haven't really seen it myself, but if so, it is definately something that needs to be changed - if it is a message that is being established.

The odd thing, unlike other stereotypes in movies which reinforce pre-existent discrimination - this one is purely make-believe.

Does the media have enough power to get certain citizens in our society to feel differently towards albinos purley through works of fiction (admittedly fiction)

Germans are another group that are always portrayed as evil - and not just Holocaust movies. You never see a good German in Hollywood.


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Michelle
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posted 21 July 2006 12:28 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Heh. My mother and I get a kick out of the German stereotypes in movies. We laugh when we watch old movies where a German accent guarantees that the person is a reprehensible villain, and make fun of the atrocious accent and the overwrought dialogue. It's also fun to imitate it. (My mother emigrated from Germany to Canada when she was a kid, so German is her mother tongue, but she speaks English with no accent. So she's way better at imitating German villains than I am.)

But it's often true in newer movies too, that Germans are quite often portrayed as villains, and German accents are sinister, even if the movie is a modern, non-Nazi-related flick. I'm not really sensitive to that, though, considering that Germans can hardly be considered a historically persecuted group or anything.

I know Arnie is Austrian, but at least he's one actor who has played positive roles despite his strong Austrian (German-sounding) accent.


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otter
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posted 21 July 2006 12:33 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
You never see a good German in Hollywood.

... now there is a loaded assumption

But the one portrayal of Germans that stands out for me - simply because it was on tv the other night - is Red October where the submarine captian not only spoke english but also had a scottish accent. A kinda new-age blackface


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oldgoat
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posted 21 July 2006 01:51 PM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
But the one portrayal of Germans that stands out for me - simply because it was on tv the other night - is Red October where the submarine captian not only spoke english but also had a scottish accent. A kinda new-age blackface

psst...otter...that would be Russian, you know, the new bad guys.

You'd be thinking of "Och Aye, Das Boot!", starring Harry Lauder.

[ 21 July 2006: Message edited by: oldgoat ]


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Makwa
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posted 21 July 2006 03:40 PM      Profile for Makwa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Two questions: 1)What does Albinism have to do with anything related to racism, and 2)What would Yellowman have said?
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Michelle
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posted 21 July 2006 04:22 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I wasn't sure whether Albinism had to do with racism or not - in fact, I was going to ask about that when I posted it and forgot. I guess I kind of figured that it's discrimination against a minority group based on skin colour. I'd be interested in hearing your take on it, though. And I'm sorry for the thread drift about portrayals of Germans. I know that has nothing to do with race (and I think I said so in my post, but still).
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oldgoat
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posted 21 July 2006 06:23 PM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, it's kind of racismesque, and I hadn't really thought about where the thread was slotted, but I could see it more under media, or even body and soul. I can see Makwa's point. One doesn't want to devalue the principle of the racism forum.
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otter
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posted 22 July 2006 12:12 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Doh!!! Oops, , it gets so hard to tell those bad guys apart, especially when they have scottish accents

[ 22 July 2006: Message edited by: otter ]


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CMOT Dibbler
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posted 22 July 2006 05:12 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
1)What does Albinism have to do with anything related to racism...

Given that the concept of race is entirely arbitrary, why shoudn't Albinos be considered a race?

[ 22 July 2006: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]

[ 22 July 2006: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]


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Fidel
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posted 22 July 2006 08:03 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Michelle, I've got a friend whose parents were born one in Germany and the other Czech and who kids way more about that stuff than you and your mother, I think. I can't repeat some of the stuff he says here. We're taking chances just being seen and heard in public with him, he's that bad.
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voice of the damned
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posted 22 July 2006 10:05 PM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
McGowan points out that it is ironic that movies dating back to 'The Firm,' and 'Lethal Weapon,' have made people with albinism into sharpshooters.

The 1978 movie Foul Play, about a detective and a librarian who uncover a criminal conspiracy, also features an albino hit man, known by his gangland moniker "The Albino". I really liked that movie as a kid.


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voice of the damned
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posted 22 July 2006 10:06 PM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
quote:

Given that the concept of race is entirely arbitrary, why shoudn't Albinos be considered a race?


Perhaps because none of the "arbiters" of what is and isn't a race have ever defined them as such?


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DrConway
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posted 23 July 2006 03:28 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Apparently only in extreme cases does the lack of pigmentation in albinos lead to "pink eye". (hardly red, however!)

Interestingly, in fiction, S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders has Dallas Winston, who's the toughest of them all, as a white-blond, blue-eyed smartass. I would peg him as an albino.

(So, did S. E. Hinton perpetuate albino stereotypes? I'm not sure.)


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Michelle
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posted 23 July 2006 04:08 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by voice of the damned:
Perhaps because none of the "arbiters" of what is and isn't a race have ever defined them as such?

Yeah, and according to a couple of sites I read, Albinism is considered a medical thing, and it happens to people of all races. Something else I didn't know.

So, I'm sorry for starting the thread here. I didn't intend to "downgrade" racism - it was an honest mistake.


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Fidel
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posted 23 July 2006 08:59 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
.

[ 23 July 2006: Message edited by: Fidel ]


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bigcitygal
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posted 23 July 2006 10:47 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I did wonder if this topic belonged here, and as the moderator I should have stepped in earlier.

I'm going to close it here and move it to....um...
culture, since Michelle began the thread with a mention of the portrayal of albinos in movies.

This is mt first attempt to simlutaneously close and move a thread. Let's see how it goes...


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Michelle
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posted 23 July 2006 11:05 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
WHY DID YOU MOVE MY THREAD!? This is censorship! Discrimination! I'll sue, don't think I won't!

Er...ahem, did I say that out loud? What I really meant to say is:

Woo hoo, you did it!


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Sineed
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posted 23 July 2006 11:20 AM      Profile for Sineed     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Surely this thread is not about racism but discrimination against people who look different for medical reasons and how Hollywood often uses physical appearances as a shortcut to ascribing character.

I've worked in health care for 20 years and have seen many people who have been horrifically disfigured by injury or disease, but you hardly ever see these people out and about. The first public discussion I've seen recently was after that French woman received the face transplant, when her doctors pointed out how disabled people can be by disfigurement.

There's an organization, About Face, that helps these people.

I was thinking about this the other day when I took my kids to a public pool. Hardly anyone's a beauty at a public pool, and there are people, including me, who display surgical scars, but you don't see, say, kids who have been severely burned, or folks who have had major reconstructive plastic surgery.

When I first heard of About Face, someone at the organization told of a young boy, a burn survivor, who was asked to leave a McDonalds because his appearance might scare the other patrons.


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Brian White
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posted 25 July 2006 06:39 PM      Profile for Brian White   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Earliest albino in movies? Would that be the keach guy in judge roy bean? Definitely a scary human being.
Perhaps the space thingys in close encounters were albinos? so there might be a positive in it all.

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arborman
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posted 26 July 2006 03:34 PM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by voice of the damned:

The 1978 movie Foul Play, about a detective and a librarian who uncover a criminal conspiracy, also features an albino hit man, known by his gangland moniker "The Albino". I really liked that movie as a kid.


That would hardly be a good way to keep his identity a secret. Not very bright gangsters, apparently.

'Who did the hit?'
'The Albino'

Sort of a short hand for cops.

If I had a gangland moniker I'd want it to be 'The little scrawny guy'.


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