Advocacy group attacks Lone Ranger for 'disheartening' plot decision

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Jul 24, 2013, 5:17 PM EDT

Another day, another reason Disney probably really wishes it hadn't made The Lone Ranger.

First, the film couldn't escape criticism that Johnny Depp's portrayal of the Native American Tonto is racist, then the flick bombed (and continues to bomb) at the box office. Now Disney is facing more than $100 million in losses, and to top it all off, they've got a whole new controversy to deal with, this time centered around the film's villain.

That villain, Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner, picture above), has what looks like a cleft lip, and Disney describes the character as "a ruthless outlaw whose terribly scarred face is a perfect reflection of the bottomless pit that passes for his soul." Sounds like a nasty piece of work, as villains in films like this probably should be, but maybe Disney should have rethought some of those scars. Cleft lip charity and advocacy group Transforming Faces has released a statement condemning Disney for giving Cavendish a cleft lip, and thus furthering the often "negative perception" children who may see the movie have about other children with cleft lips.

“I’ve met many children over the past 10 years who have been affected by cleft lip and palate –- they are resilient, strong and beautiful," Transforming Faces Executive Director Esteban Lasso said. "But, I have also seen the physical as well as emotional scars that these individuals often carry. They are often bullied and taunted at school or depicted as villains. 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."

The group also noted in its statement that it has a special interest in characters like Cavendish because of its "Face Equality on Film" campaign, which exists to further a "balanced portrayal of people with disfigurements in films."

So, once again Disney is taking fire for one of the year's biggest bombs. What do you think? Is Cavendish an insensitive portrayal, or is this the least of Disney's worries?

(Via Huffington Post)