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James Bond hasn't changed much, and neither have his problematic villains after 25 films

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11.10.2021

In many ways, Daniel Craig's Bond swan song "No Time to Die" delivers everything fans have come to expect from the franchise: thrilling action sequences, beautiful women, snappy one-liners . . . and a disfigured villain.

The new supervillain this time around is a man named Lyutsifer Safin, played by Oscar winner Rami Malek ("Bohemian Rhapsody"). Safin is smart, sauve and isn't content with merely seeking revenge on various people, including 007's latest Bond girl Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) and her young daughter. Once they're crossed off his list, Safin intends to unleash a bioweapon upon the world.

In short, Safin is pretty evil. But his actions alone aren't what's sparking controversy and conversation. First introduced wearing an expresssionless white mask reminiscent of the kind worn in Japanese noh performances, Safin's true face is eventually revealed to be covered in scars due to an attempt on his life involving a nerve agent.

"What I really wanted from Safin was to make him unsettling," Malek said in an interview with W magazine. Over on Total Film, Malek defends the character's scars further, saying they're "important to have."

It's this physical difference, the disfigurement, however, that has disfigured and disabled activist Jen Campbell and others like her up in arms.

On her YouTube channel, the author addresses the topic: "The link with villainy to deformity, disfigurements, disability and bodily transformation, it is a device used in literature so much and also now in film and has been used for so long that it is such an ingrained part of society that it's something that I think a lot of people don't think twice about, and that needs to change."

Portrayals of villains who are disfigured perpetuate the stereotype that moral corruption and untrustworthiness is tied to the physical appearance. This has real-world repercussions for people who are visibly disabled or disfigured, and how they're treated as lesser-than because of how audiences have been conditioned.

Unfortunately, the 007 franchise is........

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