Albinism in popular culture
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The depiction of albinism in popular culture, especially the portrayal of people with albinism in film and fiction, has been asserted by albinism organizations and others to be largely negative and has raised concerns that it reinforces, or even engenders, societal prejudice and discrimination against such people. This trend is sometimes referred to as the "evil albino" plot device or albino bias.
The "evil albino" stereotype is a villain in fiction who is depicted as being albinistic (or displaying physical traits usually associated with albinism, even if the term is not used), with the specific and obvious purpose of distinguishing the villain in question from the heroes by means of appearance. Traits of albinism commonly associated with the evil albino stereotype include pale skin, platinum blonde hair, and blue or pink-to-red eyes. Notably absent from most depictions is impaired vision, which is experienced by most real people with albinism.
The stereotype has become sufficiently well-recognized to attract satire and to be considered a cliché. In response to the "albino gunmen" characters in The Da Vinci Code and The Matrix Reloaded, albinistic actor Dennis Hurley wrote, produced and starred in a short film parody, The Albino Code, playing up the stereotypes, illustrating a typical example of real-world prejudice, and pointing out that the vision problems associated with albinism would make a successful career as a hitman highly improbable. In The Big Over Easy, author Jasper Fforde includes an "albino community" protest against albino bias among his fictional news clippings, most of which satirize stock characters and hackneyed plot devices. Chicago Tribune movie reviewer Mark Caro says of this character type that it is someone "who looks albino and thus, in movie shorthand, must be vicious." The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) has stated that there were a total of sixty-eight films from 1960 to 2006 featuring an "evil albino".
Conversely, a number of real people with albinism have risen to fame (see "Famous people with albinism" section, below), especially in popular music (though, as in the case of the Winter brothers, may themselves be the subject of "evil albino" parody). Albino animals capture public imagination and wonder as zoo attractions, and even in the wild can attract popular, positive attention (see "Notable albino animals" section, below).