Dear Ms Barbara Broccoli and Mr Michael. G. Wilson,
As No Time To Die finally reaches our cinema screens, we are excited to see Bond’s latest gadgets, new agents in action and the epic fight scenes.
We know what Bond means to so many; it’s an institution, a fixture in British popular culture. And for local cinemas, this is a much-needed opportunity to reopen their doors and welcome an audience back after being closed due to COVID-19.
But for us, a group of volunteer campaigners with disfigurements and visible differences, the release of No Time To Die also 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 It’s a trope, it’s old fashioned and it’s outdated.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.
The daily reality of living with a visible difference such as a birthmark, skin condition, or scarring, is contending with staring and comments. And for too many of us, we regularly experience abuse and hate, just because of how we look. We are hyper visible when we open our front doors.
Yet onscreen and in popular culture, we are virtually unseen. Unless you want a ‘baddie’ of course. Research has found that 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. Even fewer (15%) have seen someone with a scar, mark or condition that makes them look different playing the love interest on screen. Yet nearly double have seen someone with a visible difference cast as the villain or ‘baddie’.
Growing up, when you don’t ever see someone like you, it adds to the loneliness and isolation. People with visible differences report long-term impacts from not seeing people who look like them represented across popular culture. A third have low levels of confidence (34%), and three in 10 have struggled with body image (31%) and low self-esteem (29%).
Your films are powerful, they spark debate, they can challenge attitudes and help shift perceptions. They reach people.
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. Will you please meet with us so we can discuss this idea?
Changing Faces Volunteer Campaigners on behalf of:
Supported by: Face Equality International, Headlines Craniofacial Support, Centre for Appearance Research (CAR), Scar Free Foundation, Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA), Katie Piper and The Katie Piper Foundation
If you’d like to find out more about why we’ve written this letter, our campaigner Mikaela has written a blog post about her interest in the Bond films and why she wanted to send this letter to the producers.