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.

Character in Me, Myself, and IreneME, 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.

Hinoto, from X-1999 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. Hinoto, from X-1999She 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.

Character in End of DaysEND 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.

Character from Disturbing BehaviourDISTURBING 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.

PowderPOWDER:  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.

THE SIMPSONS HALLOWEEN SPECIAL:  Aired mid-'90s, written by Matt Groening

In the wake of a nuclear accident Homer Simpson sets off, survivors are transformed into pale, menacing creatures who live underground. He drives through the streets and comes upon the Winter brothers, two musicians with albinism, as they are loading equipment onto their truck below a marquee with their names on it. He associates them with the radioactively altered mutants and runs them over with his car, yelling, "Die, chalk-faced scum!"

STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE "BLOOD OATH" Episode:  Aired 1994, written by Peter Alan Fields.

A crusade is undertaken by Lt. Dax and three Klingon warriors to seek revenge against a villain known as "The Albino" by hunting him down and killing him. "The Albino" has murdered one of the Klingon's sons, and the bereaved father vows to "cut out [The Albino's] heart and eat it while he watches with his dying breath."

THE FIRM:  Directed by Sidney Pollack, 1993.

A hired hitman for a law firm connected to organized crime is said to be an "albino" with "long blond hair, almost white, and weird blue eyes," and is shot by his own cohort near the end as both are attempting to kill the hero.

LETHAL WEAPON:  Directed by Richard Donner, 1987.

Another evil hitman, this one legally blind, at one point makes direct hits through plate glass from a helicopter. The protagonist calls him, amidst a stream of curses, an "albino" and later succeeds in killing him.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE:  Directed by Rob Reiner, 1987.

A lumbering, hunchbacked lackey who is one of the "bad guys" is referred to as "The Albino," both by the other characters and in the closing credits.

VAMP:  Directed by Richard Wenk, 1986.

A red-eyed, white mutant named Snow is called a "psychotic albino" in the midst of a coffee-shop brawl that he is involved in and subsequently loses. He and a gang of other "albinos" later chase the protagonist through the sewers but are defeated when vampires attack them.

STICK:  Directed by Burt Reynolds, 1985.

"Snow White" and "Bunny Eyes" are the epithets given to a drug-lord strong-arm with a bad make-up job designed to resemble a person with albinism. He eventually meets his death by plummeting to the ground from a tower.

FOUL PLAY:  Directed by Colin Higgins, 1978.

A shockingly white "albino" with a twisted agenda divides his energies between stalking the leading lady and attempting to kill the Pope. The film comes to a climax when he is shot through the neck by the hero.

ALBINO:  Directed by Jürgen Goslar, 1976.  (German)

An "albino" African terrorist leader and woman-stalker leaves fear and horror in his wake.

THE EIGER SANCTION:  Directed by Clint Eastwood, 1975.

A murderous crime boss describes himself as "a total albino...the slightest amount of direct light is painful to my eyes."

Bad Bob from The Life and Times of Judge Roy BeanTHE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN:  Directed by John Huston, 1972.

Stacey Keach plays "Bad Bob," an Old West-style villain with albinism who is most likely a parody of real-life blues-rock musician Johnny Winter who, unlike the film actor, actually has albinism.

THE OMEGA MAN:  Directed by Boris Sagal, 1971.

A rampant virus causes those it infects to lose their pigment. They cannot stand bright light and become nocturnal stalkers dressed in hooded black robes, attempting to kill the few not yet infected. One of the protagonists shoots at them, but they capture him and try to sacrifice him in a darkened Yankee Stadium. Their efforts are thwarted when the rescuers switch on the lights, sending the evil horde scurrying from the scene of the crime.

This consistent pattern of degrading portrayals makes a troubling statement about the way albinism is viewed by the general public. Furthermore, these characterizations amplify and reinforce the social stigma associated with the condition. The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) is doing its best to combat such treatment by the media and to educate people on a large scale.

HOME | Introduction | Art | Fiction | Fashion | Public Figures | Credits & Links | Other