According to Hollywood, evil has a face and it isn’t smooth or even-toned: A study published in JAMA Dermatology analyzed the top ten movie villains (according to the American Film Institute) and found that 60 percent of them had some type of skin disease. Darth Vader turned to the dark side, but according to dermatologists, he was also afflicted with dark under-eye circles (periorbital hyperpigmentation), scars on the left cheek and scalp, and deep rhytides (a fancy way of saying wrinkles). Naturally, Hollywood would designate wrinkles to be a sign of Satan.
Other indicators of skin disease identified in movie villains include alopecia or hair loss (Hannibal Lecter, Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life, Lord Voldemort, Dr. Evil, and Kurtz from Apocalypse Now), verruca vulgaris or warts (the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Wicked Witch of the West), gray skin (Darth Vader, Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist), and albinism (MacNeil, Silas in The Da Vinci Code, Bosie in Cold Mountain, and the Albino in The Princess Bride). Although noted film villains Norman Bates, Nurse Ratched, or Alex Forrest of Fatal Attraction are clear-skinned, the study concludes that “the results of this study demonstrate Hollywood’s tendency to depict skin disease in an evil context. Its most prominent use in film is to illustrate underlying immoral depravity.” Now you know why you call your pimples “evil.”
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