Having already stirred plenty of controversy regarding its decisions to cast Johnny Depp as Tonto and also not be very good, Disney’s The Lone Ranger is now the subject of backlash from another group that feels the movie did wrong by them: advocates for people with cleft lips, who are angry at the prosthetic one sported by William Fichtner as the villainous Butch Cavendish. As the synopsis for his character notes, Cavendish’s “terribly scarred face is a perfect reflection of the bottomless pit that passes for his soul,” and cleft-lip advocacy groups have taken issue with facial scars being used yet again as a visual shorthand for evil. (Particularly as pointy beards remain readily available.)
“Not only is this incredibly lazy storytelling, it's also sending a deeply harmful message that will impact the 90,000 people that were born with a cleft in the UK as well as others worldwide,” the UK’s Cleft Lip And Palate Association said, echoing similar sentiments from Canada’s “cleft care” charity Transforming Faces—who called it “disheartening that a major motion picture would perpetuate this negative perception”—as well as many of the film’s reviews, at least in that first part. The CLAPA statement concluded by calling for a boycott of The Lone Ranger ahead of its Aug. 9 British release, giving anyone who skips the film one more reason to characterize doing so as taking a moral stand.