F I L M
Many characters intended to be people with albinism have made appearances
on TV and in the movies. Unfortunately, the depictions have been
overwhelmingly negative, revealing a great deal of insensitivity and ignorance
on the part of the writers and directors.
Below is a chronology of movies and television shows featuring depictions of albinism, beginning with the most recent.
ME, MYSELF, & IRENE: Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, 2000.
This slapstick comedy features a character called "Whitey" and "Casper" who is openly ridiculed about his albinism. His use of a bioptic (a telescopic lens mounted on glasses), which some people with albinism use to help improve their distance vision, is also mocked in the movie.
Rintaro's X-1999: Clamp Studios, 1999.
While not identified with albinism explicitly, the character of Hinoto in the Japanese anime eco-epic X-1999 displays many of the physical traits stereotypically associated with the condition. Her eyes alternate between red and purple (left) and, like many other "albino" characters, she is portrayed as severely handicapped blind, deaf, mute, diminutive in frame, and unable to walk while also possessing counterbalancing supernatural abilities; in this case, telepathy and dreamweaving. She is sought out by the most powerful political figures in Japan, and guides the hero of the story, Kamui, on his quest to save the earth.
On the bright side, Hinoto is shown to be a sympathetic and benevolent character with valuable aid to offer. However, her multiple handicaps reflect a common misconception amongst even the medical community about the effects of albinism on the body.
END OF DAYS: Directed by Peter Hyams, 1999.
This horror film revolves around Satan's release from Hell just prior to the second millenium. It is prophesied that his success in impregnating a human female by the end of 1999 will usher in the apocalypse and preserve his freedom. The target woman receives ominous visitations from demonic entities amidst her daily life, including a character referred to only as "Albino" in the credits.
DISTURBING BEHAVIOUR: Directed by David Nutter, 1998.
This story is set in a high school whose students have had their brains surgically altered to suppress their rebellious tendencies. However, this causes a buildup of negative emotions leading to random acts of violence. "U.V.," a character with albinism, is one of a group of "misfits" who has not yet been subjected to the operation. He and his friends band together to prevent further proliferation of the procedure and to expose the madness of its creator, whose vision of a perfect race includes total conformity. Although U.V.'s uniqueness puts him on the fringe, it is also a key factor enabling him to advance the cause undertaken by the story's main protagonists. He emerges as both likable and somewhat heroic, which is refreshing and unusual for fictional characters with albinism.
POWDER: Directed by Victor Salva, 1995.
Young Jeremy Reed, born to a mother struck by lightning while she was pregnant, is diagnosed with albinism at birth and later, with the ability to conduct electricity all over his body. His head is completely bald, his skin stark-white, and his eyes pink. Though extraordinarily intelligent and empathic, his life is a constant struggle, as he is rejected by his father shortly after being born, spends his childhood in a basement locked up by his grandparents, endures merciless treatment from his peers, and loses his only chance at romantic love. In the end, he leaves the world behind via self-electrocution, his bodily energy dissapating in a powerful burst as he places himself in the path of a brilliant bolt of lightning.
Though deserving credit for at least putting a character with albinism in the role of the protagonist, this film still perpetuates the concept of people with albinism as freaks with no place in society. Additionally, Jeremy's physical features are extremely artificial (one could even see the caky residue of the unnaturally white makeup the actor was wearing) and he is more often addressed by "Powder," the nickname given to him because of his skin color, than by his real name.
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